Cloud computing

Cloud computing is the delivery of computing as a service rather than a product, whereby shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices as a utility (like the electricity grid) over a network (typically the Internet). Clouds can be classified as public, private or hybrid.Cloud computing relies on sharing of resources to achieve coherence and economies of scale, similar to a utility (like the electricity grid) over a network.At the foundation of cloud computing is the broader concept of converged infrastructure and shared services.

Cloud computing, or in simpler shorthand just "the cloud", also focuses on maximizing the effectiveness of the shared resources. Cloud resources are usually not only shared by multiple users but are also dynamically reallocated per demand. This can work for allocating resources to users.

For example, a cloud computer facility that serves European users during European business hours with a specific application (e.g., email) may reallocate the same resources to serve North American users during North America's business hours with a different application (e.g., a web server). This approach should maximize the use of computing power thus reducing environmental damage as well since less power, air conditioning, rackspace, etc. are required for a variety of functions. With cloud computing, multiple users can access a single server to retrieve and update their data without purchasing licenses for different applications.

The term "moving to cloud" also refers to an organization moving away from a traditional CAPEX model (buy the dedicated hardware and depreciate it over a period of time) to the OPEX model (use a shared cloud infrastructure and pay as one uses it).The origin of the term cloud computing is unclear. The expression cloud is commonly used in science to describe a large agglomeration of objects that visually appear from a distance as a cloud and describes any set of things whose details are not inspected further in a given context.

In analogy to above usage the word cloud was used as a metaphor for the Internet and a standardized cloud-like shape was used to denote a network on telephony schematics and later to depict the Internet in computer network diagrams. With this simplification, the implication is that the specifics of how the end points of a network are connected are not relevant for the purposes of understanding the diagram. The cloud symbol was used to represent the Internet as early as 1994,in which servers were then shown connected to, but external to, the cloud.The 1950s

The underlying concept of cloud computing dates to the 1950s, when large-scale mainframe computers were seen as the future of computing, and became available in academia and corporations, accessible via thin clients/terminal computers, often referred to as "static terminals", because they were used for communications but had no internal processing capacities. To make more efficient use of costly mainframes, a practice evolved that allowed multiple users to share both the physical access to the computer from multiple terminals as well as the CPU time.

This eliminated periods of inactivity on the mainframe and allowed for a greater return on the investment. The practice of sharing CPU time on a mainframe became known in the industry as time-sharing.During the mid 70s, time-sharing was popularly known as RJE (Remote Job Entry); this nomenclature was mostly associated with large vendors such as IBM and DEC.

The 1990s

In the 1990s, telecommunications companies, who previously offered primarily dedicated point-to-point data circuits, began offering virtual private network (VPN) services with comparable quality of service, but at a lower cost. By switching traffic as they saw fit to balance server use, they could use overall network bandwidth more effectively. They began to use the cloud symbol to denote the demarcation point between what the provider was responsible for and what users were responsible for. Cloud computing extends this boundary to cover all servers as well as the network infrastructure.

As computers became more prevalent, scientists and technologists explored ways to make large-scale computing power available to more users through time-sharing, experimenting with algorithms to provide the optimal use of the infrastructure, platform and applications which prioritized the CPU and efficiency for the end users.

Since 2000

In early 2008, Eucalyptus became the first open-source, AWS API-compatible platform for deploying private clouds. In early 2008, OpenNebula, enhanced in the RESERVOIR European Commission-funded project, became the first open-source software for deploying private and hybrid clouds, and for the federation of clouds. In the same year, efforts were focused on providing quality of service guarantees (as required by real-time interactive applications) to cloud-based infrastructures, in the framework of the IRMOS European Commission-funded project, resulting in a real-time cloud environment.

By mid-2008, Gartner saw an opportunity for cloud computing "to shape the relationship among consumers of IT services, those who use IT services and those who sell them" and observed that "organizations are switching from company-owned hardware and software assets to per-use service-based models" so that the "projected shift to computing ... will result in dramatic growth in IT products in some areas and significant reductions in other areas." Cloud computing exhibits the following key characteristics:

Agility improves with users' ability to re-provision technological infrastructure resources. Application programming interface (API) accessibility to software that enables machines to interact with cloud software in the same way that a traditional user interface (e.g., a computer desktop) facilitates interaction between humans and computers. Cloud computing systems typically use Representational State Transfer (REST)-based APIs.

Cost: cloud providers claim that computing costs reduce. A public-cloud delivery model converts capital expenditure to operational expenditure.[32] This purportedly lowers barriers to entry, as infrastructure is typically provided by a third party and does not need to be purchased for one-time or infrequent intensive computing tasks. Pricing on a utility computing basis is fine-grained, with usage-based options and fewer IT skills are required for implementation (in-house).

The e-FISCAL project's state-of-the-art repository[34] contains several articles looking into cost aspects in more detail, most of them concluding that costs savings depend on the type of activities supported and the type of infrastructure available in-house. Device and location independence enable users to access systems using a web browser regardless of their location or what device they use (e.g., PC, mobile phone).

As infrastructure is off-site (typically provided by a third-party) and accessed via the Internet, users can connect from anywhere. Maintenance of cloud computing applications is easier, because they do not need to be installed on each user's computer and can be accessed from different places.

Multitenancy enables sharing of resources and costs across a large pool of users thus allowing for: centralization of infrastructure in locations with lower costs (such as real estate, electricity, etc.) peak-load capacity increases (users need not engineer for highest possible load-levels) utilisation and efficiency improvements for systems that are often only 10–20% utilised. Performance is monitored, and consistent and loosely coupled architectures are constructed using web services as the system interface. Productivity may be increased when multiple users can work on the same data simultaneously, rather than waiting for it to be saved and emailed.

Time may be saved as information does not need to be re-entered when fields are matched, nor do users need to install application software upgrades to their computer. Reliability improves with the use of multiple redundant sites, which makes well-designed cloud computing suitable for business continuity and disaster recovery.

Scalability and elasticity via dynamic ("on-demand") provisioning of resources on a fine-grained, self-service basis in near real-time(Note, the VM startup time varies by VM type, location, os and cloud providers[42]), without users having to engineer for peak loads. Security can improve due to centralization of data, increased security-focused resources, etc., but concerns can persist about loss of control over certain sensitive data, and the lack of security for stored kernels.

Security is often as good as or better than other traditional systems, in part because providers are able to devote resources to solving security issues that many customers cannot afford to tackle. However, the complexity of security is greatly increased when data is distributed over a wider area or over a greater number of devices, as well as in multi-tenant systems shared by unrelated users. In addition, user access to security audit logs may be difficult or impossible. Private cloud installations are in part motivated by users' desire to retain control over the infrastructure and avoid losing control of information security.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology's definition of cloud computing identifies "five essential characteristics":

On-demand self-service. A consumer can unilaterally provision computing capabilities, such as server time and network storage, as needed automatically without requiring human interaction with each service provider.

Broad network access. Capabilities are available over the network and accessed through standard mechanisms that promote use by heterogeneous thin or thick client platforms (e.g., mobile phones, tablets, laptops, and workstations).

Resource pooling. The provider's computing resources are pooled to serve multiple consumers using a multi-tenant model, with different physical and virtual resources dynamically assigned and reassigned according to consumer demand.

Rapid elasticity. Capabilities can be elastically provisioned and released, in some cases automatically, to scale rapidly outward and inward commensurate with demand. To the consumer, the capabilities available for provisioning often appear unlimited and can be appropriated in any quantity at any time. Measured service.

Cloud systems automatically control and optimize resource use by leveraging a metering capability at some level of abstraction appropriate to the type of service (e.g., storage, processing, bandwidth, and active user accounts). Resource usage can be monitored, controlled, and reported, providing transparency for both the provider and consumer of the utilized service. —National Institute of Standards and Technology