What is the Cloud? Part 1: Defining Cloud & Virtualization

HOSTING’s mission statement is “We Build & Operate High-Performance Clouds for Business-Critical Applications.”  Sounds impressive, or at least we like to think so, but  many people are still unsure what the cloud is and how they can benefit from it.

My goal with this series is to help you, the reader, understand what the cloud really is and how it can help you to move your business forward.  Before I go any further, let’s first talk about the term “cloud” and what it really means.  There is always the commonly accepted NIST definition, but let’s take a more basic tact.

In traditional environments, companies built solutions on dedicated hardware requiring datacenters full of servers running 24 hours a day.  These solutions required a large amount of capital investment to first build out a proper datacenter and then fill it with servers. Expansion typically involved further capital investments on hardware. And, when the project ended, businesses were left with a large amount of hardware they could no longer use.

As technology became more advanced, the concept of virtualization was introduced.  Virtualization allows for the creation of a virtual machine that runs on a physical server.  This virtual machine runs just like a physical server with its own operating system, but only uses a portion of the resources on the server.  Each physical server can run multiple virtual machines, allowing for more efficient use of hardware and, in most cases, a reduction in the amount of physical hardware needed. For a deeper definition, my go-to site (yes, I admit it) is often Wikipedia. This virtualization is the main driver of the cloud.

Cloud as a technology is still in its infancy, and is thus still evolving – no shocker there. As the term has grown in popularity, companies have tried to define the cloud to fit their needs.  Some will define cloud as a utility-based computing model while others will define it as a way to access your applications from anywhere.

HOSTING defines the cloud as a manifestation of “capacity on demand” to enable “capability on demand”.  As your solution grows, the cloud gives you the ability to quickly and easily scale the resources of your solution to match your demand.

The cloud is available in many forms.  In this series I will focus on the differences between public and private cloud, the benefits and drawbacks to using the cloud and finally how you can begin to integrate the cloud into your business.

Stay tuned for Part 2!

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