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Cloud Computing Technologies

Cloud Computing Technologies

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An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards Competition by Sean Carlin. Originally submitted for BSc Computer Science at None, with lecturer Dr Jose Santos in the category of Computer Sciences & Information Technology
An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards Competition by Sean Carlin. Originally submitted for BSc Computer Science at None, with lecturer Dr Jose Santos in the category of Computer Sciences & Information Technology

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Published by: Undergraduate Awards on Aug 30, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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10/27/2013

 
 Abstract:
This paper outlines the key characteristics thatcloud computing technologies possess and illustrates thecloud computing stack containing the three essentialservices (SaaS, PaaS and IaaS) that have come to definethe technology and its delivery model. The underlyingvirtualization technologies that make cloud computingpossible are also identified and explained. The variouschallenges that face cloud computing technologies todayare investigated and discussed. The future of cloudcomputing technologies along with its variousapplications and trends are also explored, giving a brief outlook of where and how the technology will progressinto the future.
I.I
 NTRODUCTION
Cloud computing has been a concept and a buzz word in thecomputing industry for many years now, the term has beenwidely used with many businesses not fully understandingwhat it actually is and how it will benefit them. The reasonwhy the term was not fully understood was because it wasstill a concept and the underlying virtualization technologyneeded and our own networking infrastructure was still inits infancy which meant we could not unlock the full potential of cloud computing, until now. Microsoft hasstated that for many businesses in the year 2012 it “stops being a buzzword, or a future goal and becomes a part of your plan, today” [1]. This technology has been steadilygathering momentum in many of today’s industries, withmany of IT’s biggest corporations such as, Amazon,Google, Microsoft and Salesforce.com etc pushing theutilization of cloud technology this year. More and more businesses are starting to understand the cloud with sometouting it to be “The fifth generation of computing”[2].The National Institute of Standards and Technology(NIST) defines cloud computing as a model for enablingubiquitous, convenient, on-demand network access to ashared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g.,networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) thatcan be rapidly provisioned and released with minimalmanagement effort or service provider interaction [3]. What NIST have outlined here is that cloud computing is not anew technology but rather a new delivery model focomputing infrastructure, services and information usingmany existing technologies that have been harnessed andmade available by the cloud service provider’s (CSP’s).Cloud service providers use the Internet infrastructure toallow communication between client side and server sideservices/applications [4] and offer the customer/user a pay- per-use model of the CSP’s computing resources andinfrastructure. Cloud computing can be described as a usagemodel in which resources are deliveries and, it means to provide resources, such as hardware, software andapplications as scalable and "on-demand" services via public network in a multi-tenant environment [5].From the description and definition of cloudcomputing outlined it’s clear that cloud computing hasmany features, attributes and terminologies that have madethe delivery model difficult to grasp for many. This articleaims to explain the key concepts, terminologies andunderlying technologies as well as discussing the currentchallenges and future applications of cloud computingtechnologies which will deliver a much broader understanding, appreciation and adoption of cloudcomputing.II.T
ECHNICAL
A
SPECT
The cloud delivery model has four essential characteristicsthat set it apart from any other computing model.Understanding these characteristics is essential and is thefirst step to grasping how important cloud computingtechnology will be for businesses and end users alike. Thefour essential characteristics of cloud computing areoutlined below:
Cloud Computing Technologies
 
Multi-tenancy (Resource Pooling) – 
Cloud computingutilizes a multitenant model which allows multipleusers/customers to share resources from a large resource pool. The esources are dynamically assigned andreassigned to facilitate each customers needs and includes processing, storage, memory, network bandwidth, andvirtual machines
Massive Scalability (
On-demand self-service
) -
Cloudcomputing offers
 
the ability to dynamically scale from tento thousands of systems andusers canself-provisioncomputing resources, such as servers and network storage,as needed without the need to notify the cloud service provider.
Rapid Elasticity -
Users can rapidly increase and decreasetheir computing resources as needed, this is often achievedautomatically, which gives the consumer impression thatresources are infinite and that the application can alwayscope when in demand. When resources are no longer needed they are relinquished back into the resource pool.
Measured Service (Pay-Per-Use) – 
Any resources that areused are carefully monitored, controlled and recordedwhich allows the cloud service provider to be completelytransparent with the consumer of the resources andfacilities. The user only pays for the amount of resourcesthey consume and are always made aware of anydiscrepancies, spikes or abnormal behavior regardingresources.Cloud computing delivers the characteristics outlined abovethrough three main services that have come to define cloudcomputing and how the end users can access their resourcesand services. Together these three services form the cloudcomputing stack shown in Figure 1. The services are knownas Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), Platform-as-a-Service(PaaS) and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS):
Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) – 
Offers users an easier wayto access many of their standard business applications andservices such as email and word processing packages etc, by allowing users to access these programs through theinternet, there is no need to install and run the specialsoftware on your computer if you use the SaaS. Instead of  buying the software at a relative higher price, you justfollow the pay-per-use pattern, which can reduce you totalcost [6]. This allows businesses to save money, as itremoves licensing fees and they only pay for what they useand when they use. It also removes the need to upgradesoftware packages as the cloud service provider does thisautomatically so the end user will always be up-to-date.One of the greatest benefits of SaaS is that the user canaccess their work and services from anywhere in the worldwhere they can connect to the Internet. Examples of SaaStoday are Google’s Gmail, Microsoft’s Office Live andCornerstone On Demand etc.
Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) – 
Is a set of cloud-deliveredservices that provide an environment for applicationdevelopment, deployment, management and integration inthe cloud [7]. This service is tailored towards softwaredevelopers, it allows new software solutions to bedeveloped and even existing solutions to be extendedwithout the developer having the hassle of having all thesoftware development kits (SDK’s) and infrastructure.Many CSP’s that offer PaaS have many web based tools todecrease development time and reduce costs for developerssuch as version control, agile and lifecycle planning etc.There are many examples of PaaS today such as Google’sApp Engine, Amazon’s EC2 and Microsoft’s Azure platform.
Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) – 
Is known for  providing computational and storage infrastructure in acentralized, location-transparent service [8]. Theinfrastructure that is provided by the CSP includes storage,servers, bandwidth and network equipment, which includessoftware that monitors the use of the infrastructure and
 
allows the user to only pay for what they use. Some of themost popular examples of IaaS today include Go Grid’sServePath and Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2).
Figure 1 Showing the cloud computing stack andexisting cloud services
T
HE
U
 NDERLYING
T
ECHNOLOGY
(V
IRTUALIZATION
)Cloud computing technologies could never exist withoutthe use of the underlying technology known asVirtualization. It allows abstraction and isolation of lower level functionalities and underlying hardware. This enables portability of higher level functions and sharing and/or aggregation of the physical resources [9]. Cloud computingheavily relies on virtualization as it virtualizes many aspectsof the computer including software, memory, storage, dataand networks. Virtualization is known to enables you toconsolidate your servers and do more with less hardware. Italso lets you support more users per piece of hardware,deliver applications, and run applications faster [10]. Theseattributes that virtualization hold are the core of cloudcomputing technologies and is what makes it possible for cloud computing’s key characteristics of multi-tenancy,massive scalability, rapid elasticity andmeasured service toexist. There are three types of Virtualization known as Full,Para and Isolation, each are explained below and arerepresented visually in figure 2.
Full Virtualization – 
This type of virtualization operates atthe processor level, which supports unmodified guestoperating systems that simulate the hardware and softwareof the host machine.
Para-virtualization – 
Utilizes the use of a virtual machinemonitor, which is software that allows a single physicalmachine to support multiple virtual machines [11]. It allowsmultiple virtual machines to run on one host and eachinstance of a guest program is executed independently ontheir own virtual machine.
Isolation – 
Is similar to Para virtualization although it onlyallows virtualization of the same operating system as thehost and only supports Linux systems but it is considered to perform the best and operate the most efficiently.
Figure 2 Showing three forms of virtualization
As more businesses are starting to move to the cloud, theyshould be aware of the many challenges that the technologyis currently experiencing, its important that they are prepared to encounter some of these challenges during their migration towards cloud technologies.Cloud computing has been around for many yearsand has always been clouded in ambiguity as to what thetechnology was and many individuals would provide their own interpretations and opinions in defining various clouddelivery models. This is very much to do with lack of standards and a clear definition of each aspect of what

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