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Cloud Computing - What is It

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  Todd Swank, Senior Director of Product Marketing at Servers Direct, discusses cloud computing and what you need to know.

You ask 10 different people what cloud computing is, you're going to get 10 different answers. Ten years ago, there was cloud computing because people had servers and they were connected to the Internet. They didn't call it cloud computing then, but it did exist.

Today obviously, it's much more prevalent in people's environments. Now, organizations are using terms like private cloud and public cloud. Servers Direct looks at cloud from the hardware perspective. We look at who owns the hardware and where they're going to keep it located.

Cloud computing is broken down into three categories: public cloud, colocation and on premise.

With public cloud, you're often times looking at a very large provider, like an Amazon or a Microsoft or many different small public cloud providers. And they're great for customers that have a very specific project in mind. For example, they need 16 cores of CPU with 64 Gigs of memory, 1TB of hard drive and their going to need it for approximately 60 hours. In those scenarios, public cloud is a great solution for them because it's a very limited project and they have no fixed costs. They're basically renting server time from a company, they're getting their project done and they can just move on.

Another instance where public cloud is very sound is for a software developer who is going out looking to deploy an application and they have no concept if they will get 100 users or 10,000 users. And because public cloud is so scalable, you can start with 5 servers worth of performance or 5 servers worth of resources and then if all of a sudden you start getting user after user after user, you can scale up very quickly. Pull out your credit card you buy a little bit more time from the public cloud provider and it's a great solution for you.

Some of the downfalls of public cloud are now you've let your company's data reside in someone else's environment and some companies just don't have the stomach for that. They're very paranoid about who has their data. Now, a lot of those concerns probably are unfounded and if we were a public cloud provider, I'm sure I could come up with a thousand reasons why you don't need to concerned with that, but the reality is many customers are concerned about allowing their data to reside in someone else's environment.

So, one of the other ways, one of our next areas of cloud computing is in colocation. Colocation is where a company owns their own hardware, owns their own servers, but they're housing it in somebody else's infrastructure. So it's typically an ISP or somebody who had racks and racks of servers and this rack is this company's and that rack is that company's. Inside that rack, it's going to be locked up and only the company can go in there and access those servers. So companies have the ability to have control over their data and who accesses that data, all without the infrastructure costs. Companies don't have to pay for staff to monitor the data center 24x7 in case of a power outage. Companies can get consolidated Internet connectivity and get a lower price for their Internet connection than in their own facility. So there are benefits of colocation as well.

Again, some of the concerns is that a company's data is residing is somebody else's infrastructure, so there are certain benefits to it and certain disadvantages.

And then, the more traditional method of data centers is when it is going to be on premise. A company owns the servers, owns the data center, owns the rack, owns the cooling. It's their responsibility to make sure those servers are running 24x7 and that if there's a problem with it, it's up to them to fix it. It's great for people that want complete control over their data. Obviously the costs are going to be higher for fixed costs as companies have to pay for those servers, the cooling, the rent, and the staff that is going to run it, so it really depends on what the organization needs.

Often times, companies aren't using just one or the other. Most times, most organizations today use a hybrid approach where they have an on premise data center and maybe they have a colocation facility for certain applications or certain servers or they use public cloud for a different application or they're residing their private cloud in their data center and their replicating to a colocation facility or multiple colocation facilities. So, when you talk about cloud computing, it really encompasses a lot of different solutions and options.

Learn more here: http://www.serversdirect.com/


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