Join Malcolm Shore for an in-depth discussion in this video Defining the essential characteristics of cloud, part of Cybersecurity with Cloud Computing.
- Cloud's a fascinating technology. But even more, it's a disruptive technology. We've seen disruptive technologies before, for example, personal computers, the internet and smart phones. So, what is Cloud? Cloud is a set of pooled resources delivered over the internet. Cloud allows you to deliver services globally to your customers at the least cost, and with the ability to service a variable workload by scaling the underlying resources up and down to meet the needs of the moment, and at the cost only of the resources consumed.
This is quite different to traditional IT, where resources have to be purchased and pre-established to meet maximum expected demand, and then upgraded when the inevitable occurs and capacity runs out. Cloud uses a very large pool of resources to deliver services to an equally large number of users. Each user can select the resources they need, and provision new resources instantly, should their workload require it. How automatic this is, and how quickly resources can be provisioned, and deprovisioned, depends upon the specific service.
Cloud computing, as we know it, started in 2006, when Amazon launched its Amazon Web Services product. By 2008, Google had established its presence in the cloud, as had Microsoft. In May 2009, Dr. Rich Wolski, of the University of California, Santa Barbara, created the Elastic Utility Computing Architecture for linking your programs to useful systems, referred to as Eucalyptus. Eucalyptus is an open-source cloud system which is compatible with Amazon's Ec2 Cloud Service.
By July 2010, NASA had teamed up with Rackspace, to launch a second open-source cloud system called Openstack. The key cloud success story in 2010 was Netflix, which used the Amazon Cloud Service to achieve 1.6 billion dollars in sales. By 2012, a cloud survey indicated 67% of businesses used some form of cloud. Not all cloud ventures have been successful. In October 2013, a company called Novanix, which provided cloud storage announced it would wind down its operations.
By focusing purely on the cloud storage market, Novanix came under pressure from an increasingly commoditized market dominated by the likes of Amazon, Microsoft and Google, and it became irrelevant. The National Institute of Standards and Technology has published a definition of cloud. This definition empasizes the on-demand nature of resource provisioning and deprovisioning, and the ability to change resourcing with minimal effort. The Cloud Security Alliance's definition is more technical, but essentially means the same thing.
It focuses on the kind of services and the pooling of resources, as well as rapid provisioning, orchestration and deprovisioning on-demand. Both definitions define five essential characteristics of cloud: On-demand self service, allowing the consumer to unilaterally provision resources independently of the service provider. Broad network access. Through-thick-or-thin clients, as web, or traditional services, and from a variety of endpoint devices, including desktops, phones, laptops and PDAs.
Resource pooling. With resources being shared by multiple consumers in a multi-tenanted model, in an abstracted form that hides their physical and geographic attributes. Rapid elasticity. Providing the consumer with the resources needed at any time, but scaling up and down quickly enough to appear to the consumer to be unlimited. And Measured service, with metering in order to monitor, control and report on usage by consumer. There is one additional characteristic, which is not included in the CSA or NIST list of essential characteristics.
And that is, that cloud is charged by the amount consumed. This is known as the "pay as you go" model. Some service providers, however, offer alternative approaches, such as subscription services. Why has cloud become so compelling? Well, there are many reasons. Let's have a look at a few. Businesses using cloud don't have to raise the capital to purchase and maintain technology to support their business. They can pay for their information technology through a utility service model, in which they simply pay for the resources they use, as they use them.
Cloud Computing users do not have to maintain staff to design and operate their technology infrastructure, and in some case, applications. This eliminates the bulk of IT staff. In addition, using cloud may avoid the need to gain IT approvals and allow more rapid deployment of business support systems. 80% of enterprise software expenditure is on installation and maintenance of software. By using cloud, with pre-installed software, businesses avoid the cost and the responsibility.
Cloud Computing users do not have to scale their physical infrastructure to handle drastic traffic fluctuations and all predict traffic growth in order to maintain performance. By adopting cloud, engineering and investing for peak traffic is no longer required. Cloud, most definitely, has a compelling business case.
- Essential cloud concepts: infrastructure, deployment models, and more
- Defining trust models for clouds
- Identifying governance and risk
- Complying with legal and audit requirements
- Managing incident response
- Maximizing application security
- Managing encryption and keys
- Implementing virtualization
- Introducing SABSA and the cloud attribute taxonomy