What Is Cloud?

You would get a different response for the same question depending upon whom you ask. .  If it’s a student, the response may be as a noun.

“A visible mass of condensed water vapor floating in the atmosphere, typically high above the ground.”

If it was someone working with computers, you would get a response like the ability to access the same data from different devices using or over the internet. Like accessing photos from a home computer, office computer, laptops, tablets, smartphones etc.

So What Exactly Is Cloud Computing Or Simply Cloud?

It is new architecture of delivering storage, compute, network, and application, software as a complete stack or one or more of them over the internet which is the back bone of cloud. So cloud isn’t a new technology, it’s just a way of delivering a service in a different way than the traditional datacenters have always done.

It enables on-demand access to shared pool of resource like networks, storage, servers, applications and service that can be instantiated or brought down with click of buttons.

Some examples of existing cloud services are Rackspace, Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, Verizon Terramark, IBM Softlayer etc.

Before we understand what these cloud service providers are offering, it’s time to understand the different type of cloud and its service.

A Typical IT Datacenter Can Be Classified As Follows

Traditional Datacenters

  • Building siloed, best of the bread stack and building all of them manually. Takes a quite long time to commission, decommission, increase or decrease capacity or performance.

Private/Internal/On-Premise Cloud

  • Building shared virtual infrastructure with templates and highly automated process with orchestrators. Instantaneous and provides self-service to end users of infrastructure with click of a button, commissioning, decommission, increase and decrease capacity as well as performance.
  • All in house, within the corporate firewall and typically a WAN access. Used by a single organization.

Public/External Could

  • Outside the corporate firewall, located in a non-company space and typically require a high speed Internet Access.
  • Very Similar to Private Cloud, but no capital expenditure, rather operational expenditure. Pay per use, on-demand.
  • Hosted by a Cloud Service Provider and used by several organizations.

Hybrid cloud:

  • It’s a composition or use of two or more clouds typically a private cloud and a public cloud, presenting a single view as if everything is in one datacenter.

Traditional datacenter and Private Cloud can be broadly categories as On-Premise Cloud and Public Cloud as Off-Premise Cloud. All categories of cloud offer one or all of these service like

Infrastructure as a Service-IaaS:

Typically provide you a stack with Storage, Server (Virtual Machine), Network and any layer above is managed by the end user, like Operating System, Application Software etc.

Migrating from traditional datacenters to Public or Private Cloud is done by using IaaS.

PaaS: Platform as a Service:

Includes all of Iaas plus operating system, programming language execution environment, database, and web server. A typical example would be a lamp stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP)

Building Software or application typical startups idea incubation etc. is done on PaaS.

SaaS: Software as a Service:

Includes of all PaaS plus application software and databases. A typical example would be Office 365, CRM, ERP by Salesfore.com, Email games etc.

Consumer or End User directly use like Flickr, Drop Box, and Salesforce.com ZohoCorp etc.

Figure 1) Cloud Service Examples (Image Source: TheGadgetSquare)


Figure 2) Cloud Service Models (Image Source: Microsoft Azure)


All the above types of cloud has a characteristics

Scalability and Flexibility: Without any planning you can increase or decrease your capacity or performance needs or both of the infrastructure

  • Service-On Demand: with a pay as you use.
  • Web Services API for management, control and billing.
  • Shared Virtual Infrastructure: Highly abstracted hardware layers like, Storage, Server, Network, CPU, memory etc.

There are 3 main technologies that are essential to build any successful cloud.

  1. High Speed Internet: So Clients can access the Cloud Computing from anywhere.
  2. Virtualized Hardware at all the basic infrastructure namely, Network, Storage and Server.
  3. Automation and Orchestration via Programmatic Management using Web Services API.

Advantages of Cloud:

  • Agility and Flexibility: Commission and decommission in no time with no capex.
  • Scale and Cost: Scale up and out on demand with no capex again.
  • Architectures for next generation: Built for the next wave of change.
  • Built in Change Management: The back end orchestrator/automation take care of change management which is needed for billing, auditing and reporting.

Things that one needs to be cautious of when moving to cloud

  • Security: How and who uses the data you stored is not in your control anymore as it’s all managed by the cloud service provider (CSP)
  • Lack of Control: As a consumer, we can just do CURD Operations (Create, Update, Read, & Delete) but can’t do anything more than what CSP offers.
  • Vendor Lock-In: Moving from one CSP to another is not easy. Once data moves from on premise to off premise, it may potentially get locked due to painful migration process from one CSP to the other.

Where Virtual Tech Gurus (VTG) Can Help ?

VTG with its technical gurus provides consulting service to move from physical to virtual across your datacenter like, server, network and storage. VTG also helps in building Automation and web services to move from traditional datacenter to a private cloud, as well as manager Hybrid Cloud environment. VTG assists in identifying the part of the datacenter that are best suited for moving to cloud.  For example, evaluating the right CSP, keeping in mind the gotchas when moving to cloud.

In the Next Blog series we will see in detail about two products that help in building the Automation piece of Cloud OnCommand Workflow Automation (WFA), a Framework that helps in orchestrating storage in general and NetApp specific along with vRealize Orchestrator, which is a mid-level orchestrator that helps in automation of any IT process along with Virtual machine provisioning and integration with other lower-level orchestrator like WFA.

Thanks for reading this blog and please do share your valuable comments and feedback on this topic.