Cloud Pick

Is my Cloud hosting really cloud hosting?

GUEST COLUMN | by Tom Canavan

CREDIT RochenWith all the hype surrounding cloud-hosting technology it’s hard to identify a true cloud-hosting platform, from a hosting platform called Cloud. Advertising that promises cloud hosting but fails to deliver on the reality is called “CLOUD-WASHING”. Cloud washing is when the promises don’t live up to the real nature of a cloud. You could think of these providers as CINO or Cloud-In-Name-Only. How does today’s educational technology professional make the right decision for cloud hosting providers?

Cloud – the big picture view

The essential way to think of a cloud is a like a ‘utility’ such as water, electric, telephone, natural gas, and so on. As with any service, you use what you need and pay accordingly.

The essential way to think of a cloud is a like a ‘utility’ such as water, electric, telephone, natural gas, and so on. As with any service, you use what you need and pay accordingly. 

For instance our ‘need’ (resource consumption) for water goes up greatly in the summer for trees and lawns and to stay cool. Our expectation is that we turn on the tap and consume the amount of water we deem fit. When done, we turn if off. Our water company will read the ‘meter’ and bill us for the water consumed. Water companies don’t have a practice of saying you must buy thousands of more gallons of water than you’ll need. They simply ensure the infrastructure is working and able to bring the water to the tap, and that it’s safe for human consumption (secure) and available 24x7x365 (high availability).

Cloud hosting works in much the same way. Your website or application will consume a certain amount of resources such memory, disk storage, CPU or network.

Carrying out that example let’s say a school district needs during the year a greater degree of storage, or network bandwidth, than when school is out of session.

In ordinary server technology you would need to purchase or provide the highest amount of resource to meet your peak demand. If you were buying that from a hosting provider you would pay for that most likely all year around. However with Cloud you consume what you need and are billed accordingly. Thus during the quiet of summer, you would turn your cloud all the way down and pay the minimum.

With that, let’s dive in and learn the definition of Cloud hosting as defined by the National Institute of Standards (NIST).

On-Demand Self Service

Cloud computing by its nature is natively self-serve, allowing consumers to provision their own needs, such as the amount of CPU, RAM, and network storage (SAN or NAS), as needed without requiring human intervention from the host. As an example a ‘cloud’ that requires migration of your data to a new machine to upgrade is not on-demand.

Broad Network Access

This is the idea of ubiquitous connectivity to most any device type (desktop, phones, tablets, mobile computing, etc.) and typically will be more applicable to a Software-As-A-Service (SaaS) Services delivery Model. This feature specifically is related to such things as hosted online learning education Software   or other software and applications, where your ‘application’ resides in the cloud.

Resource pooling 

One of the most attractive features of the cloud hosting model is resource pooling.  Pooling is designed to work by taking multiple servers (including their sub-components such as memory, cpu, bandwidth, network storage) and pooling them into a common set of resources. Resource pooling allows for multi-tenant’ model that allows access to different physical and virtual resources as required by the consumers need.

Rapid elasticity 

Cloud hosting infrastructures are elastic. They can have resources added or removed very rapidly depending on the demand (load on the website or application). This gives the consumer’s websites for instance, a “view” of nearly unlimited resources.

Measuring service

Cloud hosting gives has the native ability to provide detailed resource measurement. This is accomplished through the measurement at various points in the infrastructure for usage of such as memory used, disk storage consumed, bandwidth use and so on. This gives the consumer a transparent billing model to the consumer.

Service Models: 

Cloud hosting services are delivered vis-à-vis a utility model being offered in three different variations.

Software as a Service (SaaS). 

SaaS offers the consumer access to ‘applications’ running on a cloud infrastructure. The consumer can access it through various devices, and typically buys on a subscription basis. The consumer has no control over the cloud infrastructure.

Platform as a Service (PaaS). 

In this service model the consumer can deploy their own apps or websites, such as a those built on a content management framework (Joomla!, WordPress, Drupal, etc).  Billing is typically pay-per-use or charge per use basis – such as consumption of service (remember clouds are a UTILITY model).

The cloud itself consists of hardware and software that conforms to the essential characteristics of cloud computing.

Keeping with the spirit of cloud computing, the consumer does not manage the cloud, its network services, operating systems and so forth.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). 

In the final model, the consumer has a greater amount of control, such as the selection of the operating system and applications. Yet again they do not manage the cloud itself. In this model the consumer has, [provider dependent], limited ability to handle some network components such as firewalls.

Summary

The choice for using a cloud of course is dependent on your needs, however choosing a technology provider who offers true cloud hosting is vital. Cloud hosting offers Self-Service resource assignment, broad-network access, resource pooling, rapid elasticity, and service measurement.  The cloud can be deployed in three service models such as SaaS, PaaS and IaaS. Amongst is many solid feature sets, high-availability and lower cost are a strong bonus to look at this technology for your districts.

Tom Canavan is with Rochen.com’s Enterprise Solutions Group. He has 20+ years of IT experience in the Global Fortune 500, K-12 and Higher Ed segments and is the author of several technical books, including CMS Security Handbook. Rochen.com is a hosting service provider, offering managed cloud servers and other types of business hosting. Learn more at Rochen.

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