Cloud Integration FAQs
Cloud Related Questions and Answers
Cloud computing is a data delivery model that provides highly scalable and on-demand access to computer resources. These include CPUs, storage, networking and other hosted software services. Cloud functions are broken into two sections, the front and the back end, which connect to each other through a network, usually the Internet. The front end is geared toward the computer user (what the client connects to and what they see) while the back end is the true functional cloud section of the system. For this of many cloud integration questions, we prefer Azure from Microsoft.
The front end includes the client’s computer (or computer network) and the application required to access the cloud computing system. Not all cloud computing systems have the same user interface. Services like Web-based e-mail programs leverage existing Web browsers like Internet Explorer or Firefox. Other systems have unique applications that provide network access to clients.
On the back end of the system are the various computers, servers and data storage systems that create the “cloud” of computing services. By design, a cloud computing system could include practically any computer program you can imagine, from data processing, design or even video games. For more information on public/private cloud integration questions, please see our cloud glossary of terms.
A central server administers the system, monitoring traffic and client demands to ensure everything runs smoothly. It follows a set of protocols (rules) and uses a special kind of software referred to as “middleware,” that allows networked computers to communicate with each other. In order to run at maximum capacity, physical servers to work as if they’re multiple servers, each running with its own independent operating system. This is called virtualization which greatly reduces the need for more physical machines and keeps hardware costs very low. For more information on front end/back end integration questions, please see our cloud glossary of terms.
If a cloud computing company has a lot of clients, then they need a lot of storage. Some companies require hundreds of digital storage devices and Cloud computing systems need at least twice the number of storage devices it requires to keep all client information stored. These devices, like all computers, occasionally break down, so a cloud computing system makes a copy of all its data and stores it on these secondary devices. The copies enable the central server to access backup machines to retrieve data that otherwise would be unreachable. Making scheduled and automated copies of data as a backup is called redundancy.
Clouds can be either public or private, but it’s public clouds that are more commonly associated with cloud computing.
Public cloud platforms, such as AWS and Microsoft Azure, pool resources in data centers often distributed around the globe, and users access them via the internet. Resources are provided to customers through metered services, and the cloud vendor is responsible for the varying degrees of back-end maintenance and security.
Private clouds are walled-off environments hosted in a corporate data center or a collocation facility. They lack the massive scale of public clouds, but do have some flexibility, as a company’s developers and administrators can still use self-service portals to access resources. Private clouds provide greater control and security but it’s really up to each IT team or service provider to put processes and automations in place to ensure it happens.
Cloud computing lowers IT operational costs because the cloud provider manages the underlying infrastructure, including hardware and software. Those managed components are typically more reliable and secure than the standard corporate data center, and in return, free up IT teams and resources to focus on work that more directly benefits the business.
The cloud is also global, convenient, scalable and easily accessible, all of which accelerate the time to create and deploy software applications. It opens organizations to a host of newer services that enable the most popular trends in application architectures and uses, including microservices, containers, serverless computing, machine learning, large-scale data analytics, IoT and so much more.
Clouds are typically more secure than most private data centers since companies such as Amazon and Google typically hire talented engineers and automate many of their practices. Cloud infrastructure providers can also offer tools and architectural options to isolate workloads, encrypt data and detect potential threats. Instead of thousands of individual companies updating their own equipment, the cloud provider takes on the cost and responsibility for security, maintenance, updates, and more foundational aspects of the system. This leaves individual companies free to focus on more strategic needs and particular functions.
In the early days of cloud, most enterprise usage was as needed and often driven by developers and lines of business that wanted to go around traditional processes. Today, organizations must work towards a “holistic” strategy, meaning comprehension of the parts as intimately interconnected, and understood only by reference to the whole.
To address this, most successful strategies assemble key stakeholders and employees with cloud experience to map out a long-term strategy based on proprietary business objectives. A successful cloud strategy should include a full network discovery process, a technology roadmap and then a decision framework to identify workload characteristics and how they will port to cloud platforms. IT leaders and cloud architects will evaluate risks and benefits and determine how they will manage and secure cloud-based workloads. They will also determine what and even if there is any need to function with on-premises equipment.
Public clouds charge on a per-use basis, so costs will vary based on multiple items like the size of your environment, the provider, the region you operate in, the amount of data movement and the number of higher-level services consumed. Major public cloud providers also have pricing schemes that can lower costs in exchange for certain long-term commitments.
SaaS vendors have long boasted of selling software on a pay-as-you-go, as-needed basis and now cloud infrastructure providers like Amazon are doing the same. For example, Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud charges for per-hour usage of virtualized server capacity where a small Linux server costs 10 cents an hour, and the largest Windows server costs $1.20 an hour. Storage clouds are priced similarly, starting at 25 cents per gigabyte of storage each month.