Cloud Computing


“Cloud computing is a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction. This cloud model is composed of five Essential characteristics, three service models, and four deployment models.

Essential Characteristics:

On Demand Self Service – The unilateral provisioning of computer resource, server time, network and storage on an automatic basis without the necessity for human interaction with the provider for each requested action.

Broad Network Access – Services available over the network and accessed via standard mechanisms that promote the use of either thin or thick clients and end user devices (mobile phones, tablets, laptops, workstations).

Resource Pooling – The provider’s computing resources are pooled to serve multiple consumers using a multi-tenant model, with different physical and virtual resources dynamically assigned and reassigned according to consumer demand.

Rapid elasticity – Functionality can be dynamically elastically provisioned and released, in some cases automatically, to scale rapidly outward and inward commensurate with demand. To the consumer, the capabilities available for provisioning often appear to be unlimited and can be appropriated in any quantity at any time.

Measured service – Cloud systems automatically control and optimise resource use by leveraging a metering capability at some level of abstraction appropriate to the type of service (e.g., storage, processing, bandwidth, and active user accounts). Resource usage can be monitored, controlled, and reported, providing transparency for both the provider and consumer of the utilised service.


Service Models:

Software as a Service (SaaS) – The capability provided to the consumer is to use the provider’s applications running on a cloud infrastructure. The applications are accessible from various client devices through either a thin client interface, such as a web browser (e.g., web-based email), or a program interface. The consumer does not manage or control the underlying cloud infrastructure including network, servers, operating systems, storage, or even individual application capabilities, with the possible exception of limited user – specific application configuration settings.

Platform as a Service (PaaS) – The capability provided to the consumer is to deploy onto the cloud infrastructure consumer – created or acquired applications created using programming languages, libraries, services, and tools supported by the provider.

The consumer does not manage or control the underlying cloud infrastructure including network, servers, operating systems, or storage, but has control over the deployed applications and possibly configuration settings for the application-hosting environment.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) – The capability provided to the consumer is to provision processing, storage, networks, and other fundamental computing resources where the consumer is able to deploy and run arbitrary software, which can include operating systems and applications. The consumer does not manage or control the underlying cloud infrastructure but has control over operating systems, storage, and deployed applications; and possibly limited control of select networking components (e.g., host firewalls).

Deployment Models:

Private cloud – The cloud infrastructure is provisioned for exclusive use by a single organization comprising

Multiple consumers (e.g., business units). It may be owned, managed, and operated by the organization,

a third party, or some combination of them, and it may exist on or off premises.

Community cloud – The cloud infrastructure is provisioned for exclusive use by a specific community of consumers from organizations that have shared concerns (e.g., mission, security requirements, policy,

and compliance considerations). It may be owned, managed, and operated by one or more of the organizations

in the community, a third party, or some combination of them, and it may exist on or off premises.

Public cloud – The cloud infrastructure is provisioned for open use by the general public. It may be

owned, managed, and operated by a business, academic, or government organization, or

some combination of them. It exists on the premises of the cloud provider.

Hybrid cloud – The cloud infrastructure is a composition of two or more distinct cloud infrastructures (private, community, or public) that remain unique entities, but are bound together by standardised or proprietary technology that enables data and application portability (e.g., cloud bursting for load balancing between clouds).

This area is one of the most interesting areas in IT at the moment. There is so much work in this area and a shortage of resources. In order to be able to play any one of many roles, from implementation and architecture, to core sales for vendors, a rich portfolio of skills is required. There are main vendors whose technologies have spawned the definition and use cases for Cloud computing and Cloud Enablement. These include VMware, EMC, Cisco, Netapp, Microsoft, IBM, HP, Dell, Rackspace, NASA, to name but a small number.

This has lead to differing and sometimes non-compatible architectures and associated ecosystems, that all constitute ‘Cloud’ in varying degrees to internationally accepted standards as to what defines ‘Cloud’ and its various ‘Service Models’ such as the aforementioned NIST explanation.

There are many viable IaaS offerings in the Public Cloud Space from the likes of Google Compute Engine, HP Cloud, and Microsoft Windows Azure. These three vendors launched their offerings in the past year, but they are behind the undisputed leader Amazon Web Services and also Rackspace both from a functional maturity perspective and also percentage of market share.

On the private cloud front we see there is a predominant battle for construction of IaaS coming by default from the flavour of virtualisation vendor used by the enterprise/corporation/ISP/SI/SO/government body/finance house in question. It is this that determines how successful any attempt at IaaS cloud ‘Hybridisation’ will be for those parties and the ability to ‘burst’ and consume resources from a compatible ecosystem provider. It is heavily open to personal opinion as to what successful means in the eyes of architects and the SOA/TOGAF et al methods used when planning the solutions in question.

There is VMware and its associated ecosystem of users and providers with IaaS via vCloud Director and newer products versus propositions from a whole host of aforementioned vendors. This is a discussion best parked for consultancy discussions!

There is in effect an arms race to construction of *aaS solutions in response to business needs by all technologically functioning companies of a size that necessitates this kind of solution. This requires technical people in all areas relating to both the sale and assembly of such technology.

Expected knowledge for Cloud Computing scenarios and people working at a Cloud Architect and System Engineering level are typically:

  • Virtualisation Technology / Cloud Technology Vendor and Open Source.
  • Converged Infrastructure: VCE / VCN / HP/ + ‘Frankenblock (Self Assembly Approach)
  • SOA/ ESOA/ TOGAF etc
  • Security
  • Networking
  • End User Compute, VDI, Thin Clients etc

Professionals that have these fused skill sets and the ability to wield these skills and present at CxO level are highly in demand.

We have only discussed IaaS in this article but the subject also extends to specialists working in Software as a Service (SaaS) as well as Platform as a Service (PaaS).

We specialise in talent engagement across all areas of Cloud Computing. There is also massive interest in people that have strong skills with the VMware Application Platform, Google Apps, and other skills that relate to the PaaS level of Cloud solutions.

PthinkS have a strong understanding in this area, please feel free to get in touch and discuss any engagement needs you may have in further detail.