Moving To The Clouds. Cloud Computing And Cloud Hosting?

April 19, 2009

cloud-hosting-futureCloud computing has become very trendy term, many interpretations which often conflict with each other appeared, and I’ve seen many people to get confused with the terminology. When it comes to putting “Cloud computing” into practice including the implementation of this style of computing into web hosting industry, then it comes really cloudy. I can bet that only a few months from now, “Top Cloud Hosting” directories will be born and will flood the web space the way they did in Shared Hosting. This will bring a lot of confusion and misunderstanding of what “Cloud Hosting” is. Of course I don’t pretend to clear the air around the clouds. But I’l try to classify the different cloud here and to help consumers to better understand Cloud Hosting.

What is Cloud Computing?

We can find a lot of definitions of “Cloud” and “Cloud Computing”. One of the best can be found in Wikipedia (Cloud Computing). However I’ll try to provide original explanation here at Daw blog. So, in general “Cloud computing” is a new method of approach to computer technology. It replaces the concept of producing and selling computer platforms (hardware and software) to consumers and industry class users with a new one. In Cloud generation of computing, users buy computer technologies as a service, not as a product.

This means that in a very short perspective home computer users will not need to purchase expensive hardware and software licenses the way they do now. Most of the software licenses would be paid on “Pay Per Use” basis (similar to “pay as you go” GSM/Wireless phone services).

I can go even further and will say that soon we will not need to have a classic PC in our homes or offices. The only things we will need are monitors and a devices which make a connect them to remote hardware platforms (probably a high class Virtualized Data Center) hosted in the data center of the local IPS for example. In such virtualized data centers users will have access to virtual machines that host all applications, files and  data bases of theirs. This is a major change in the way we use computers, and it will make web hosting companies a mainstream IT (something we will talk about later in this article).

The above example illustrates the biggest change in computing we have seen in the last 2 decades. Computers and computing are transforming from an in-house model of hosted platforms (hardware and software) to a networking  model of using resources. This is a process that changes everything in Computer technologies – from the way companies produce computers and software to the way users pay to use them.

Of course the Cloud computing is unthinkable without virtualization technologies. The fast development of Virtualization techniques and their implementation in all fields of computing makes possible the birth of new generation of computer technologies – Cloud computing.

Now to summarize. Cloud computing is an approach of building computer architectures and a method of delivering computer applications and services to end users and businesses, which allows scalable, virtualised hardware and software resources to be provided as a service through a network (LAN, VPN, Intranet, Internet, etc.). Consumers of Cloud computing don’t need to have a knowledge over installation and maintenance of the technologies they use, because, the use them the way they work with their web based email accounts (GMail, Yahoo, AOL, other branded web addresses).

The existence of “Cloud Computing brings variety of new computer terms such as “Infrastructure as a service” (IaaS), “Platform as a service” (PaaS), “Software as a service” (SaaS). All of them refer to an IT architecture build to be used in a network. The term Cloud has become the most popular metaphor that illustrates the process of merging the physical computer resources with the Internet networks. A popular joke says “Ony one will survive’! It would be the Cloud.

What “Cloud Hosting”?

“Cloud Hosting” is a web hosting service delivered from a cloud generation computing platform. To name a hosting service “Cloud” it must be provided on “Pay per use” basis, to be delivered from high availability clustered system (a network of servers), and from virtualized resources.

To deliver Cloud Hosting services any provider must utilize any kind of HA cluster (a group of connected computer nodes). The clustered system guarantees that the web hosting services delivered from the Cloud will come form a redundant, multi-node system that offers dynamically scalable resources. Having a clustered system is actually the basic requirement that any Cloud generation hosting solution should met.

The Cloud provides those who host their websites on it with the opportunity to use a large amount of resources any time they need them. The resources include processing power, hard drives, and burstable memory. The Cloud Hosting services are usually based on load-balanced clusters, in which the data is stored on SAN (Storage Area Network). Any of the processing nodes (servers) of the cluster can be easily added to or removed from the system when this is necessary. If any server is down for maintenance or for any other reason is not in service, other nodes take the load.

When using a Cloud hosting service the consumer is billed for the use of compute cycles, an indicator which measures how much processing time the web hosting customer’s applications use. They pay only for the resources they use; can easily increase or decrease resources; can get any new servers deployed instantly; receive better uptime than web hosting services delivered from standard servers; can receive a very large number of visitors; can use different technologies together as part of the same cloud; don’t need to buy or install hardware or software.

Cloud Hosting systems are becoming rapidly popular, because web hosts, especially Shared Hosting providers need to deal with a large amount of websites which require growing amount of resources. In the next article I’ll talk about cloud hosting service providers and about the providers of cloud hosting infrastructure solutions.

Meanwhile you can spend some time reading the article “WHT Members Say: What Is Cloud Computing?” and to find out what WHT members know about “Cloud”, “Cloud Hosting” and “Cloud” computing”.