Tag Archive: cloud computing


Cloud hosting isn’t going anywhere any time real soon. I believe it’s here to stay for some very simple reasons.

  • No. 1, there’s no other hosting solution that is as scalable as cloud hosting. If you need more bandwidth right now, today, then call your hosting company. It’s done. With traditional hosting, they won’t upgrade you until you’ve paid for the extra bandwidth, and then if you need to scale down again, it’s a nearly impossible task.
  • You also get redundancy. This is a huge benefit because your cloud host will save your data on multiple machines at once. If one machine goes down, then you won’t lose your data – not even for a nanosecond. It will still be accessible to other machines on the network and your operations are continuous.
  • By charging you based on the amount of computing assets you consume, you’ll get more cost efficiency. That means you won’t have loads of storage space going unused. Instead, you’ll be billed only for what you use, leading to less cost per storage unit.
  • Cloud hosting is in huge demand. Companies are realizing the benefits and are flocking to it in droves.

All of this spells a long road ahead of us where cloud hosting is concerned. It’s not going anywhere any time soon.

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If you are looking for a suitable platform for hosting your public, private, or hybrid cloud, then I recommend Windows Azure. There are several reasons why you might want to use Windows Azure for your cloud hosting platform. Here are 5 reasons why you should consider Windows Azure.

  1. Supports Multiple Languages – Windows Azure is flexible enough to be compatible with any Web language you program in, including PHP, .NET, Java, and Ruby.
  2. Integrates With Existing Environment – You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. You can integrate Windows Azure with whatever computing environment you are currently running.
  3. Scalable With Minimal Resources – You can scale up or down easily without depleting your own computing resources.
  4. Move Quickly, Save Money – Running an IT department has become very costly for many businesses. And with some companies there is so much red tape involved in the approval process that you can’t really distribute Web services very quickly or efficiently. Windows Azure changes all of that.
  5. Work On-Premises Or Off-Premises – The cloud is the cloud. You can operate an internal cloud, use external cloud resources, build a public or private cloud, or go the hybrid way. Any way you choose, you can integrate on-premise resources with off-premise resources easily and manage them all from one central location.

Windows Azure is one of the most powerful cloud hosting platforms on the market. Don’t deploy until you’ve examined this option.

This might seem like a silly question to some of you, but it gets asked by people who aren’t as familiar with cloud computing as your enterprise-level IT guru. Do all the standard web languages work in the cloud? The answer is a clear and simple “yes.”

There is no such thing as a cloud-based language. All the standard computing languages work just as well in the cloud as they do in traditional computing. That includes HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Ruby on Rails, C#, C++, and we could go on. But I think you get the idea.

What is cloud computing if it isn’t an extension of your mainframe? Think of it as a loose network of mainframe computers connected by a series of fiber optic cables over a long distance. The cloud then becomes an extension of each of those mainframes, so in a sense it is nothing more than a traditional computer with extended memory and functionality.

That’s a simplification, but it does illustrate the simple notion of what the cloud actually is. Therefore, because the cloud – or “a cloud” – is nothing more than an extension of a traditional computer with additional functionality, all the same languages can be used. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Just put it on another vehicle.

According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, there are five characteristics of cloud computing:

  • On-demand self-service – As a user of cloud hosting services, you can set up your own infrastructure without the assistance of a third party.
  • Broad network access – All you need is an Internet connection.
  • Resource pooling – Resources available to the host are also available to all end users equally. The resources are shared.
  • Rapid elasticity – You can increase or decrease your cloud capacity as you need to and without a lot of resource manipulation.
  • Measured service -You pay for the service that you use, not a service that is rolled into a package containing resources that you’ll never use.

These characteristics of cloud hosting can be delivered through several formats including infrastructure as a service, software as a service, and platform as a service. Furthermore, there are several deployment models, which include private cloud, public cloud, and hybrid cloud.

The flexibility of cloud hosting environments means that more and more businesses will move to this model of computing and as they do it is likely that the cost of services will come down. If you have not considered cloud hosting until now, perhaps now is the time to start planning for your future in the cloud.

What Is Elasticity?

Elasticity is not cloud computing, but it does have implications for cloud computing. According to Reuven Cohen, elasticity can be defined as

The quantifiable ability to manage, measure, predict and adapt responsiveness of an application based on real time demands placed on an infrastructure using a combination of local and remote computing resources.

That’s not a bad definition, but what does it mean? Here’s what I think it means in a nutshell:

Elasticity is the quality of expanding and contracting computing resources to meet demand in real time.

That’s a bit more simplified, but in layman’s terms it really means that your computing architecture is designed to allow your business to utilize available computing resources on demand by automatically drawing upon external resources or scaling back to use only local resources as the momentary situation dictates. That can really free up your IT team to focus on important matters instead of always trying to meet your current demands.

In order for elasticity to work efficiently, you’ll need resources available to you in the cloud. You do not necessarily need a datacenter or managed servers off location. You can simply have access to computers in the cloud that you can draw upon from your local computers in the event that demand momentarily grows at any time.

Whatever your need for cloud computing systems, elasticity is a quality that can be met in a variety of ways. It’s a powerful quality and one that I’d recommend pursuing.

As we move through time, closer and closer to infinity, there is a growing trend in business to move toward cloud-based computing systems and hosting in the cloud. There are some definite benefits to cloud hosting services, one of which is that businesses can pay only for the hosting they use rather than pay for hosting on a server that is partially not used. It’s a powerful way to host your Web applications, store data, and make use of your information.

While cloud-based computing has grown in popularity, it’s still relatively obscure. That is, it hasn’t caught on in a big way. It has caught on in a moderate way. So that causes me to ask the question: Could 2011 be the year of the cloud? Could it be the year we see a mass migration to cloud computing?

That’s a fairly good question. No one, of course, can predict the future. Maybe 2011 will be the year of mass migration to cloud hosting, or maybe that won’t happen until 2012. Or maybe later. But I suspect that 2011 will see considerable growth in cloud computing.

Why do I say that? Because it’s the trend. Each year since cloud hosting was introduced, there has been growth in the number of companies adopting it as a model for their business. I fully expect 2011 to continue that trend. How about you?

If you have any doubt that you are already operating in the cloud, allow me to dispel your doubt. You ARE, in fact, operating in the cloud. Here are 5 evidences that prove you are working in the cloud right now.

  1. Twitter – If you have a Twitter account and you tweet to it on even a semi-regular basis, then you are operating in the cloud. Twitter is a cloud-based communications tool that allows you to send messages to a mass audience with just one click. It’s a powerful tool and, chances are, you’ve already discovered that.
  2. Flickr – Flickr is one of the most popular photo-sharing websites online. If you upload photos to Flickr and share them with your friends, then you are operating in the cloud.
  3. YouTube – YouTube is to videos as Flickr is to photos. If you use YouTube at all to upload videos or even view the videos uploaded by others, then you are using a cloud-based platform.
  4. Google Docs – It’s free and you can do all sorts of things with it. Create spreadsheets, use a word processing application, upload presentations … hey, it’s a virtual office. If you’re using Google Docs, then you are working in the cloud.
  5. Facebook – Some people use Facebook like a virtual office. You can have long conversations through Facebook, network, meet people, and share information. If you’re using Facebook for business, you are operating in the cloud.

No more excuses. You’re in the cloud. You might as well take it to the next level.

One of the biggest benefits to having your business operating in the cloud is that you can run your business from anywhere. You can check your e-mail while on location, make your payroll while on vacation, and manage your inventory in between sales calls. There is no time in history that is more amenable than now for doing business without an office.

In a word, cloud computing makes that possible.

Not only can you run your business in the cloud from anywhere in the world, but you can run it from your cell phone or Blackberry. You don’t need expensive computer equipment, you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on software programs and hardware, and you don’t have to invest in malware or antivirus programs when you can protect yourself from a distance. Your cloud service provider will take care of the security element for you.

With cloud hosting, all you have to worry about is marketing and running your business. The cloud can host your applications, make them work together, secure your operations from theft and viruses, and provide all the tools you need to run an operation from front to finish.

This is the 21st century way of doing business. For once, it’s OK to have your head in the cloud.

Perhaps one of the most important aspects of doing business in the cloud for small businesses is that you can run your entire company in a virtual environment or a real-time physical environment off-location and appear as if you are an enterprise-level corporation. You can appear larger than you really are.

You must ask yourself this question if you are a small business owner considering a move to the cloud: Would the appearance of being a larger operation make a difference in my business?

If the answer to that question is “yes” then the obvious correct answer with regard to your move to cloud computing is, “What are you waiting for?” You can have the appearance of bigness the moment you move to the cloud and still continue your humble operation without a single break. That is, if your move goes smoothly and you do it right.

The first thing any small business should do when considering a move to cloud-based computing is plan for the move. Don’t just jump out there and do it. Plan it first.

You’ll need to plan when you’ll make the move, what kind of servers you’re going to use, how much of your business you intend to operate out of the cloud, and how you’ll integrate server security into your operations. Don’t make a single move until you have it all planned out and you have viable answers to the most important questions.

One very definite challenge to server security is with software updates. Cloud-based software has the unique ability to show a new version of software when each page is updated. So imagine that you have a page that has been updated a hundred times and you have several versions of that software sitting out there on your server. Each of those are a separate security risk.

How does that change the security of your server? Well, it obviously makes you more vulnerable.

But, can you fix it?

You can, but it is challenging. You have to look at cloud server security as a component of its own rather than as a component of your server configuration. With that in mind you should look at each server in light of the following three principles.

  1. Elasticity – Each server needs to be elastic enough that you can have the same level of security as you scale up and down, but you should also have the same level of security as you maneuver horizontally. Scalability and flexibility are only benefits if you have security to back them up.
  2. Programmable – You have to have the ability to program security for each application and each software package on the server as opposed to expecting one level of security for the entire server to protect everything on that server.
  3. Adaptive – Not only should you expect server security to match scalability and flexibility protocols as well as be programmable for each software and application package, but you should also be able to configure security for each user level. If you have server work groups that allow for security configuration per work group then you can allow each user and management representative in your company to do the work they need to do on the server and keep it secure.

Cloud computing has its challenges, especially where security is concerned, but they can be overcome.