This paper explores and explains cloud computing in depth, giving varying definitions and comparing it with other services. The conditions under which private or public cloud computing should be adopt is also explained, similar concepts of cloud computing are outlined, the impact of cloud computing on security and a brief description of cloud computing sustainability to businesses is described. The paper seeks to bring clarity and understanding of the new and evolving way of computing with the use authors opinions and illustrative diagrams.
Keywords: Cloud computing, private computing, public computing.
The Definition of Cloud Computing and its Characteristics
Cloud computing is a newly hyped-up term among Information Technology vendors, with its unique characteristics that enables a significant workload shift, user computers are relieved of a vast amount of tasks. This new and evolving way of computing promote the use of remote, centralized, cloud-base facilities. According to Rafeq ( 2011)“The ‘cloud’ in cloud computing is defined as the set of hardware, networks, storage, services, and interfaces that combine to deliver aspects of computing as a Service” ( p.103). The cloud system can be divided into two parts; the front end, which comprises of the user or client computers and interface which enables access to the cloud and the back end. The back end, which is term as the cloud consist of the various servers, storage, hardware connected over a network. The IEEE computing society (2006) briefly explains cloud computing, outlining that:
Cloud computing is the ability to access a pool of computing resources owned and maintained by a third party via the Internet. It isn’t a new technology but a new way of delivering computing resources based on long existing technologies such as server virtualization. (p.6)
With this type of service users are only required to be able to access the cloud, server computers own by a separate company takes care of the running applications, email services, word processing, and other rigorous data analysis. An example of cloud computing in action is demonstrated by web based email service providers such as Yahoo and Gmail which uses cloud computing to store software and users emails. The maintenance of the resources which provide this service is the responsibility of yahoo or g-mail and users are just required to login through the internet with a device.
Cloud computing is a great improvement in computer technology, with a variety of defining characteristics that makes it above the rest. Some of these characteristics are: on-demand self service, broad network access, rapid elasticity, resource pooling and measured service. On-demand self service according to (Oracle Cloud Computing, May 2010) is explained as “Users being able to monitor and manage computing resources as needed without the help of human administrators” (p.3). This feature promotes less interaction between servers and users, since users are able to maneuver resources on their own.
Another characteristics is broad network access, this entails service been transmitted over a standard network and different devices such as laptops, mobile phones and tablets. Oracle cloud computing (May 2010) also pointed out that the rapid elasticity capability of cloud computing is the ability to scale resources both up and down as needed. To the consumer, the cloud appears to be infinite, and the consumer can purchase as much or as little computing power as they need (p.3). On the other hand, resource pooling is whereby the service provider put together a group of resources to work together to meet users needs. This explained in detail by the National Institute of Standard Technology (September 2011), where they stated that
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
The final characteristics that was identify above, measured service, is basically the cloud system being closely monitored and service use by users is measured and the appropriate charges are presented to consumers.
Overall, cloud computing reduces spending, increases start-up speed and allows flexibility. It however faces security concerns.
Conditions under which private or public cloud computing should be adopt
Private cloud (also called internal cloud or corporate cloud) is a marketing term for a proprietary computing architecture that provides hosted services to a limited number of people behind a firewall. Advances in virtualization and distributed computing have allowed corporate network and datacenter administrators to effectively become service providers that meet the needs of their "customers" within the corporation. Marketing media that uses the words "private cloud" is designed to appeal to an organization that needs or wants more control over their data than they can get by using a third-party hosted service such as Amazon's Elastic Compute Cloud or Simple Storage Service.
Private cloud computing can also be adopted when business owners and application owners use the corporate IT as a standard infrastructure on the request of new business service, not knowing how complex it is at the time.
A public cloud is one based on the standard cloud computing model, in which a service provider makes resources, such as applications and storage, available to the general public over the Internet. Public cloud services may be free or offered on a pay-per-usage model.
The main benefits of using a public cloud service are:
Easy and inexpensive set-up because hardware, application and bandwidth costs are covered by the provider.
Scalability to meet needs.
No wasted resources because you pay for what you use.
The term "public cloud" arose to differentiate between the standard model and the private cloud, which is a proprietary network or data center that uses cloud computing technologies, such as virtualization. A private cloud is managed by the organization it serves. A third model, the hybrid cloud is maintained by both internal and external providers. Examples of public clouds include Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), IBM's Blue Cloud, Sun Cloud, Google App Engine and Windows Azure Services Platform.
Similar concepts to cloud computing
As previously defined, Cloud Computing is the use of computing services and capabilities that are delivered over a network, typically the Internet. Computers in the cloud are configured to work together to provide access to the various applications offered by the cloud. It is called Cloud Computing because of the cloud-shaped symbol that is used to represent the system diagram (wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_computing, 2012).
Figure 1: System diagram illustrating the cloud network (wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_computing, 2012)
The central concept of Cloud Computing is that a user can access files and perform computer-related tasks anywhere via a network or the Internet without installing a programme on their physical device. All that is required is a computer or a media consumption device such as an ipad® or Blackberry Playbook®, an operating system, an Internet connection and a compatible web browser (Thurana, 2008). Based on our research there are seven concepts or systems that are similar to Cloud Computing (wikipedia.org/wiki/Cloud_computing, 2012), however, we will be focusing on the two listed below:
1. Client Server
Client-server architecture allows the resources of a system, to be distributed among several individual computers. These individual computers are accessed only through a network.
Client-server systems are constructed so that the resource that is to be accessed can reside on a central computer, known as a server, and is shared among several users. Users access the server through a client or server application.
A client-server system can be two-tiered or multi-tiered. In a two-tier client-server system, users run an application on their local computer, known as a client that connects over a network to the Server. The client application runs both business logic and the code to display output to the user, and is also known as a thick client (Technet.microsoft.com: Library: Chap 7 Client/Server Architecture ). Conversely, in a multi-tiered client-server system, the client application logic is run in two locations:
1. The thin client is run on the user's local computer and is focused on displaying results to the user.
2. The business logic is located in server applications running on a server.
Thin clients request functions from the server application, which is itself a multithreaded application capable of working with many concurrent users. The server application is the one that opens connections to the resource being accessed and can be running on the same server/computer as the resource, or it can connect across the network to a separate server/computer. This is a typical scenario for an Internet application, which connects millions of users to the Internet.
The client-server system enables sharing of resources across a large pool of users as it allows many users to use a single resource which is similar to the multi-tenancy characteristic of cloud computing. It also allows for the ease of maintenance of resources/applications as applications only has to be changed on the server that host the resources/applications. Additionally, tasks such as backing up and restoring data are simplified because they can focus on the central server.
Figure 2: Diagram illustrating Client Server System
(Technet.microsoft.com: Library: Chap 7 Client/Server Architecture )
Mainframes allow multiple users to share both the physical access to the computer from multiple terminals as well as to share the CPU time and is similar to the multi-tenancy concept used by cloud computing to make available to a large number of users the resources of the main frame (DHRITIMAN, 2008).
Mainframes also run multiple different instances of operating systems at the same time thereby operating not as a single computer but as a number of virtual machines. This technique of virtual machines allows applications to run as if they were on physically distinct computer.
This virtualization technique is used by cloud computing to allow servers and storage devices to be shared giving users the impression that they have full control over the resource that is being accessed.
Users gain access through specialized terminals or from personal computers equipped with terminal emulation software which is similar to cloud computing which uses a browser mainly to access the cloud’s resources. Applications/resources only have to be changed on the mainframe that hosts the resources/applications. Additionally, tasks such as backing up and restoring data are simplified because they can focus on the central mainframe.
The impacts of Cloud Computing on Computer security
In todays world more IT professionals are using cloud computing to protect their fims computer system. Instead of running anti-virus products on their own network, companies are buying security layers from cloud computing specialists. These would be security specialists like Kasperksy Lab and AVE.
When we think of the straight forward attacks on organizations security systems, they have to be one step ahead in the ever-evolving maleware engines. In terms of an organization risk can be mitigated, transferred or accepted. Calculating risk usually invloves.
· Calculating the value of asset
· Giving it a weight of importance in order to priortiaze its ranking for analysis
· Conducting an impact analysis
· Determine its associated risk
In terms of cloud computing security, the main point is that there is an infrastructure somewhere that supports and provide cloud computing services for each organization that uses it because each company has different structures and different needs in terms of security for their network system. According to a study done by “P. McFedries (2008)”, companies have seen and 18% reduction reduction in their IT budget from cloud compurting securtiy and a 16% reduction in data center power cost.
This shows the infrastructure set up by cloud computing providers for organizations securing their network system. Different organizations has different infrastructure settings to suit it but same modifications.
Benefits Organizations get from having cloud computing
Centralized Data – Small, temporary caches on handheld devices or notebook computers pose less risk than transporting data buckets in the form of laptops.
Incident Response/Forensics – If there is multiple incident responders, a copy of the VM can be given so that distribution of forensic workload based on the job at hand or as new sources of evidence arise and need analysis. This also decrease evidence transfer time and eliminate or reduce service downtime.
Password Assurance Testing – Decrease password cracking time and keep cracking activities to dedicated machines.
Improve State of Security Software – Process accounting will make a comeback as customers target expensive processes. A security vendor that does understand the performance their software will win.
Secure Builds – This can create gold image VM and clone away.
Cloud computing has many advantages for different organizations and in this changing world where technology is advancing at rapid paste companies often look to see how best to secure valuable data and from viruses as well. There will be times when issues may arise and software trouble but as “Craig Bald founder of Cloud Computing says all questions were answered for concerns that may arise with the cloud software for security concerns”. The only thing he won’t be able to prevent is if there is a crime and investigators need all data available to them to solve crimes.
The sustainability of cloud computing to business
Cloud computing has helped to sustain small to medium businesses, they only have to pay for the services they need from cloud computing. It helps to lower cost and fits with the budget the company is working with. Small businesses get more services from cloud computing and they get a dedicated server. Companies used cloud computing to help sustain a clean environment where their data sharing to external customers or otherwise are concern, saying their data centers are “green” says Richard Baillie writer for his blog cloud computing. Energy saving is also part of the business connection with cloud computing and getting to use less power to sustain a software to run any company.
Thomas S. (2012) explains that “Cloud computing offers many operational benefits to companies of all sizes, while at the same time providing them with a more sustainable, ecologically-friendly alternative to traditional IT infrastructure.” This is so because, when businesses use the cloud system, fewer physical components are required hence reducing the amount of energy use and also reducing carbon emission. Reducing the energy use is a key factor in business growth, high power driven hardware can cost a lot to operate. Carbon emission is not healthy for the environment and there cloud computing is environmental friendly.
In concluding, cloud computing provides greater flexibility, faster page loading and plays an important role in business sustainability
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