Skip to main content
Engineering LibreTexts

10-E.7: Cloud Configuration

  • Page ID
    1.5 Compare and contrast cloud and virtualization concepts and technologies.

    Cloud Computing

    Cloud computing is the on-demand availability of computer system resources, especially data storage (cloud storage) and computing power, without direct active management by the user. The term is generally used to describe data centers available to many users over the Internet. Large clouds, predominant today, often have functions distributed over multiple locations from central servers. If the connection to the user is relatively close, it may be designated an edge server.

    Clouds may be limited to a single organization (enterprise clouds), or be available to many organizations (public cloud).

    Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\): Cloud computing metaphor: the group of networked elements providing services need not be individually addressed or managed by users; instead, the entire provider-managed suite of hardware and software can be thought of as an amorphous cloud.. ("Cloud_computing.svg" by Sam Johnston, Wikimedia Commonss is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0)

    Cloud computing is a relatively new technology, and there is a great deal of new terminology that comes with new technology. The National Institute of Standards and Technology has attempted to address some of this for cloud computing. There are five essential characteristics of cloud computing:

    Characteristic Description
    On-demand self-service A consumer can unilaterally provision computing capabilities, such as server time and network storage, as needed automatically without requiring human interaction with each service provider.
    Broad network access Capabilities are available over the network and accessed through standard mechanisms that promote use by heterogeneous thin or thick client platforms (e.g., mobile phones, tablets, laptops, and 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. There is a sense of location independence in that the customer generally has no control or knowledge over the exact location of the provided resources but may be able to specify location at a higher level of abstraction (e.g., country, state, or datacenter). Examples of resources include storage, processing, memory, and network bandwidth.
    Rapid elasticity Capabilities can be 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 optimize 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 utilized service.

    Service Models of Cloud Computing

    Along with these characteristics there are several service models that we find in cloud computing:

    Model Description
    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)
    Mobile "backend" as a service (MBaaS) In the mobile "backend" as a service (m) model, also known as backend as a service (BaaS), web app and mobile app developers are provided with a way to link their applications to cloud storage and cloud computing services with application programming interfaces (APIs) exposed to their applications and custom software development kits (SDKs). Services include user management, push notifications, integration with social networking service and more. This is a relatively recent model in cloud computing, with most BaaS startups dating from 2011 or later, but trends indicate that these services are gaining significant mainstream traction with enterprise consumers.
    Function as a service (FaaS) Function as a service (FaaS) is a service-hosted remote procedure call that leverages serverless computing to enable the deployment of individual functions in the cloud that run in response to events. FaaS is included under the broader term serverless computing, but the terms may also be used interchangeably.
    Serverless computing Serverless computing is a cloud computing code execution model in which the cloud provider fully manages starting and stopping virtual machines as necessary to serve requests, and requests are billed by an abstract measure of the resources required to satisfy the request, rather than per virtual machine, per hour. Despite the name, it does not actually involve running code without servers. Serverless computing is so named because the business or person that owns the system does not have to purchase, rent or provision servers or virtual machines for the back-end code to run on.

    Models of Cloud Deployment

    Model Description
    Private cloud A cloud infrastructure operated solely for a single organization, whether managed internally or by a third party, and hosted either internally or externally. Undertaking a private cloud project requires significant engagement to virtualize the business environment, and requires the organization to reevaluate decisions about existing resources. It can improve business, but every step in the project raises security issues that must be addressed to prevent serious vulnerabilities.
    Public cloud Cloud services are considered "public" when they are delivered over the public Internet, and they may be offered as a paid subscription, or free of charge. Architecturally, there are few differences between public- and private-cloud services, but security concerns increase substantially when services (applications, storage, and other resources) are shared by multiple customers. Most public-cloud providers offer direct-connection services that allow customers to securely link their legacy data centers to their cloud-resident applications.
    Hybrid cloud Hybrid cloud is a composition of a public cloud and a private environment, such as a private cloud or on-premises resources, that remain distinct entities but are bound together, offering the benefits of multiple deployment models. Hybrid cloud can also mean the ability to connect collocation, managed and/or dedicated services with cloud resources. Gartner defines a hybrid cloud service as a cloud computing service that is composed of some combination of private, public and community cloud services, from different service providers. A hybrid cloud service crosses isolation and provider boundaries so that it can't be simply put in one category of private, public, or community cloud service.

    There are additional deployment models such as Community cloud, Distributed cloud, Multicloud, High Performance Computing cloud, and Big Data cloud. However, the ones listed in the table above are the most common deployment models.

    Providers of Cloud Services

    There are quite a large number of cloud service providers. Some of the larger, more well known companies include: Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud, Alibaba Cloud, IBM Cloud, Oracle, Salesforce, SAP, Rackspace Cloud, and VMWare. This is only a very small sampling. For additional service providers consult places like Wikipedia's Cloud computing providers category page.

    Adapted from:
    "Cloud computing" by Multiple ContributorsWikipedia is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

    • Was this article helpful?