Cloud Computing – Flexible Infrastructure To Support Dynamic Business Demands

Cloud computing is the solution to help to achieve an agile, efficient IT infrastructure that responds quickly and flexibly to the changing demands of business, explains Kumaraan Arumugam of Dell Malaysia.
Kumaraan Arumugam
Country Manager, Infrastructure Solutions, of Dell Malaysia
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With the ever-increasing dynamic demands from business nowadays, IT has been challenged to provide an effective IT infrastructure that can scale quickly to meet this and maximise the utilisation of IT investments. This can be achieved thru an evolutionary approach through virtualisation or a more revolutionary approach by building an infrastructure from scratch.

The cloud is a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (eg networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.

The Value of Cloud Computing

Cloud computing enables IT organisations to respond faster to the needs of business, while driving greater operational efficiencies.

Cloud computing delivers IT as a service. The main features of a cloud include:

  • Virtually unlimited processing and storage capacity
  • Abstracted, pooled resources
  • Elasticity (the ability to scale up or down easily)
  • On-demand, self-service provisioning
  • High level of automation
  • Consumption-based billing.

It can be in the form of:

  • a private cloud, operated and hosted by an enterprise IT department or by an external provider is for the exclusive use of and accessible only within an organisation
  • a public cloud of an external provider, which is open to any number of organisations and individual users on a shared basis. Using a public cloud minimises initial capital investment and combines agility and efficiency with massive scalability
  • a hybrid cloud that spans both of the above, linking private and public clouds to provide access to extra resources when the private cloud hits maximum utilisation. A hybrid cloud might also split computing by tier between private and public clouds. For example, the database may reside in the private cloud while the application server is located in the public cloud.

A true cloud has three key characteristics:

  • flexible costs on a pay-per-use basis,
  • the ability to elastically scale capacity up or down,
  • geographic and hardware independence.

There are also three cloud service models:

  • Software as a service (SaaS) - gives web access to applications hosted on a service provider’s infrastructure. A wide range of applications can be delivered through a SaaS model, such as customer relationship management, collaboration, email and enterprise resource management.
  • Platform as a service (PaaS) - a software development and hosting environment made up of development tools, databases, middleware and infrastructure software.
  • Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) - enables the system administrators and developers to self-provision the compute, storage and network resources they need to deploy and run applications and operating systems.

Maximising Existing Resources

After years of data center growth and IT evolution, many businesses are left living with complex, overgrown computing platforms that are chronically underutilised. These systems take up valuable data centre floor space, depreciate quickly, consume large amounts of power and cooling resources, and can cause management headaches.

What’s more, the IT resources in the typical data centre are locked into silos that are dedicated to particular applications. This rigid architecture makes it hard for an IT organisation to quickly adapt or respond to changing business demands, and it makes it difficult to share resources throughout an enterprise — to increase utilisation and improve efficiency.

Cloud computing enables an application to take advantage of idle or excess computing, storage and network capacity that is shared with other applications. The cloud is one of the keys to avoiding overprovisioning and enabling efficient load balancing among computing resources.

As organisations move toward cloud computing, they typically evolve through three phases.

Implementing virtualisation is the first step, followed by accelerating and expanding its use. The final phase is interconnecting the data centres to create a single resource pool and private cloud; this phase might also include utilising compatible public clouds if appropriate. The resulting hybrid infrastructure provides true on-demand computing in an environment designed for maximum flexibility.

Cloud services create significant cost and business model advantages — helping to reduce capital and operational expenses, enhancing business agility while minimising risk, and enabling resources (and personnel) to shift from simply keeping a data center running to pursuing strategic business goals.

Graduating in the field of Information Technology with exposure in virtualisation technology will be the stepping stone leading into the cloud world. Knowledge in storage management technology, networking and IT security could certainly help individuals gain a well-versed understanding of the cloud framework.

Other relevant competencies include having the knowledge and certification in ITIL framework as well obtaining the certifications in the fields of virtualisation, networking, IT security and storage management. Exposure and experience in these areas can help one become a domain expert within the cloud framework.