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The Clouds are of different kinds

One thing is for certain - cloud computing solutions are becoming part of the IT toolbox in the growing number of firms and organizations. In a world that increasingly depends on technology, on-demand services represent a new model for the creation and delivery of IT resources: it provides flexibility to handle difficult-to-predict loads, scalability in times of significant increase in demand for resources, and costs at the level that enables their use by any business user.  


The concepts of cloud computing or the on-demand services are so wide that describing them needs moving between different categories, and each of the categories requires at least a brief description.  


First of all, there are different types of resources that can be delivered to a user with cloud computing services. The most popular is software and applications as a service (SaaS). The scope of these services includes, for example, the commonly used applications such as Twitter and LinkedIn, which do not need to be installed on a user’s computer, and it is not the user who worries about versions and updates to be able to fully enjoy them.   The offer, which has the greatest potential to revolutionize the IT departments is infrastructure as a service. IaaS provides users via Internet with available resources such as space for data storage, and computing power on servers usually equipped with operating system and virtualization platform to enable users virtualize their applications. Virtualization is the foundation of infrastructure services in the cloud, providing access to a number of virtual applications and virtual machines with shared server resources. Depending on the required business resources, firms may obtain different advantages from various cloud options.  


First of all, it is better scalability and flexibility needed for dynamically changing demand for resources. And because traditional data center does not "support" these options, cloud infrastructure services can come to the rescue, giving an opportunity to allocate resources between virtual machines as needed, on demand. What's more, payments are only for the resources actually used.   The next most frequently cited cloud benefits are savings in hardware investments. Since it is service provider who is responsible for supplying and installing infrastructure elements, instead of making the investment, you pay monthly (usually) fee from the operating budget.  


Improving the quality and content of an application with the ability to test in fully scalable environments, and the introduction of standardization in applications as needed, providing the confidence that instances used in various departments in an enterprise meet certain requirements, such as security - it's the third.      


An important feature is shortened time needed to create a new application from days or weeks, to minutes. When a cloud development platform is integrated with infrastructure services, developers can use templates and tools in order to avoid having to perform monotonous tasks, speed up application development, testing and releasing new applications.  

Finally - reducing capital expenditures and time on servicing and maintenance of IT resources, as in a traditional data center 80% of these expenditures is spent on maintaining the current system, while only 20% is for investing. Cloud services move infrastructure maintenance duties to a service provider.  


Resources can be delivered to users in a variety of models: as services from public space, from an on-premises data center or in a mixed model.   The public cloud is hosted environment, which is the source of shared server and network infrastructure. Users put their applications in a cloud provider’s data center on virtual machines. The primary benefit to business users is flexibility, being the main feature of cloud applications. In public cloud configurations physical servers are shared between users, so that on a given server there are different firms’ applications. Access to the applications is generally via the Internet or API.  


Another location of resources for business needs is the private cloud. The term defines both - hosted environment as well as the cloud environment from an on-premises data center. A cloud hosted outside is the environment, where physical servers and any additional equipment is dedicated to one business user. All virtual machines on the physical server belong to the company. The most accurate definition of private cloud is the one classifying it as resources in a corporate own data center and managed by internal CIOs using hypervisors, platforms and management software, and high density physical server. Optionally, private cloud providers offer dedicated services as well.  


The most flexible solution for any type of business or institution (although with today's legal requirements not always possible to use) is combined model of the hybrid cloud. With hybrid configuration, a single application can be implemented into a variety of environments, such as marketing applications, where the front view is hosted in public cloud, while the background data and applications are stored in a private cloud of corporal physical data center.  


Despite continuous improvements of solutions that on-demand resources services are based on, the solutions can still cause different concerns - about security, availability, ownership of data. However, as they become widely accepted as a platform for delivering applications and services, their market position will strengthen.  


Stratecast, Frost and Sullivan, An Executive Brief Sponsored by IBM, All Clouds are Not Created Equal: A Logical Approach to Cloud Adoption in Your Company, 2012.