In previous editions of “From Cloudy to Clear” we defined the different kinds of cloud delivery methods (public, private, hybrid) and architectures (SaaS, PaaS, IaaS). Today we will describe the characteristics shared by all clouds regardless of delivery method or architecture: API, reliability, scalability, and multi-tenancy and virtualization.
API (application programming interface): Basically, API lets two separate software programs “speak” or partially integrate with one another. The cloud’s API allows it to quickly and easily install and host any number of applications. API gives the cloud its near-infinite variety in functionality. With API, IronOrbit can host Microsoft Office, QuickBooks, or any program our clients request.
Reliability: The cloud is more reliable (less susceptible to downtime and poor performance) than other computing methods because: 1) Most clouds run on platforms, meaning that they are dissociated somewhat from the physical hardware that sustains them. This allows problematic clouds to be easily repaired, deleted, and replaced, while the underlying hardware remains unaffected. 2) The centralization of clouds lets them be a) easily repaired, upgraded, and deleted and b) quickly and simply backed up or migrated to superior hardware.
Scalability: A system is scalable that can be “scaled” up or down, or enlarged or shrunk, and still maintain its basic composition and proportions. A scalable cloud can add further users, storage, or processing power simply by connecting extra hardware to the existing infrastructure. By definition this type of expansion does not require any extended integration or reworking of the existing system and will not disrupt the service of ongoing users.
Multi-tenancy and virtualization: With both multi-tenancy and virtualization, users with different devices or located in different offices or organizations share the same hardware resources via the cloud but not the same specific software, platform, or infrastructure. In both cases, unless intended for collaboration or combined storage, the end users should only be able to access and edit their own or their organization’s data.
Though slightly different, multi-tenancy and virtualization both account for the cloud’s incredible efficiency. On average, an organization will use less than 50% of its on-site computing resources less than 50% of the day. A cloud hosting provider, delivering off-site computing resources for dozens of organizations, will continually use almost 100% of its resources almost 100% of the day. The hosting provider purchases only the amount of hardware that its clients need; can provision more or less computing resources depending on workload, avoiding having to purchase surplus hardware; and hires a fraction of the total IT staff that dozens of organizations would need to keep their inefficient IT infrastructures running.
Come back next week for Part 4 of “From Cloudy to Clear,” which will explain virtualization, desktop virtualization, and related terms in further detail.