Today, driven in large part by the financial crisis gripping the global economy, more and more organizations are turning toward cloud computing as a low-cost means of delivering quick-time-to-market solutions for mission-critical operations and services.
While there is no arguing about the staying power of the cloud model and the benefits it can bring to any organization or government, mainstream adoption depends on several key variables falling into alignment that will provide users the
- desired outcomes, and
- levels of trust necessary
- Reduced implementation and maintenance costs
- Increased mobility for a global workforce
- Flexible and scalable infrastructures
- Quick time to market
- IT department transformation (focus on innovation vs. maintenance and implementation)
- “Greening” of the data center
- Increased availability of high-performance applications to small/ medium-sized businesses
Let’s take this case in point: GTRA research showed that the most common concern about implementing cloud programs was security and privacy, a finding supported by an IDC study of 244 CIOs on cloud computing, in which 75% of respondents listed security as their number-one concern. (downlod it).
Government Technology Research Alliance (GTRA), an organization that provides government CXO leaders a forum in which to collaborate, strategize, and create innovative solutions for today’s most pressing IT needs.
It is true that moving from architectures that were built for on-premises services and secured by firewalls and threat-detection systems to mobile environments with SaaS applications makes previous architectures unsuitable to secure data effectively. In addition, at a March 2009 FTC meeting discussing cloud computing security and related privacy issues, it was agreed that data management services might experience failure similar to the current financial meltdown if further regulation was not implemented. In short, some executives are simply too scared to move forward with cloud initiatives. However, this concern, while valid, is not insurmountable.
Already there are countless examples of successful cloud computing implementations, from small organizations up to large enterprises that have low risk tolerance, such as the U.S. Department of the Navy.The security community is also coming together through various initiatives aimed at education and guidance creation. The National Institute of Standards and Technologies (NIST) is releasing its first guidelines for agencies that want to use cloud computing in the second half of 2009, and groups such as the Jericho forum are bringing security executives together to collaborate and deliver solutions. As with any emerging technology, there exists a learning curve with regard to security in a cloud environment, but there is no doubt that resources and case studies exist today to help any organization overcome this.
The same types of pros and cons listed above can be applied to other concerns facing executives, such as data ownership rights, performance, and availability. While these are all valid concerns, solutions do exist and are being fine-tuned every day; the challenge is in bringing executives out of a state of unknown and fear and giving them the understanding and knowledge necessary to make informed, educated decisions regarding their cloud initiatives.
- First one must understand the evolution of computing from a historical perspective, focusing primarily on those advances that led to the development of cloud computing, such as the transition from mainframes to desktops, laptops, mobile devices, and on to the cloud.
- Second one must know in some detail the key components that are critical to make the cloud computing paradigm feasible with the technology available today.
- Third one must know some of the standards that are used or are proposed for use in the cloud computing model, since standardization is crucial to achieving widespread acceptance of cloud computing.
- Fourth one must know the means used to manage effectively the infrastructure for cloud computing.
- Significant legal considerations in properly protecting user data and mitigating corporate liability will also be covered.
- Finally, have a idea of what some of the more successful cloud vendors have done and how their achievements have helped the cloud model evolve.
What Is the Cloud?
The term cloud has been used historically as a metaphor for the Internet. This usage was originally derived from its common depiction in network diagrams as an outline of a cloud, used to represent the transport of data across carrier backbones (which owned the cloud) to an endpoint location on the other side of the cloud.
This concept dates back as early as 1961, when Professor John McCarthy suggested that computer time-sharing techology might lead to a future where computing power and even specific applications might be sold through a utility-type business model (look here).This idea became very popular in the late 1960s, but by the mid-1970s the idea faded away when it became clear that the IT-related technologies of the day were unable to sustain such a futuristic computing model. However, since the turn of the millennium, the concept has been revitalized. It was during this time of revitalization that the term cloud computing began to emerge in technology circles.
The Emergence of Cloud Computing
Utility computing can be defined as the provision of computational and storage resources as a metered service, similar to those provided by a traditional public utility company.
This, of course, is not a new idea. This form of computing is growing in popularity, however, as companies have begun to extend the model to a cloud computing paradigm providing virtual servers that IT departments and users can access on demand.Early enterprise adopters used utility computing mainly for non-mission-critical needs, but that is quickly changing as trust and reliability issues are resolved.
Some people think cloud computing is the next big thing in the world of IT. Others believe it is just another variation of the utility computing model that has been repackaged in this decade as something new and cool. However, it is not just the buzzword “cloud computing” that is causing confusion among the masses.
Currently, with so few cloud computing vendors actually practicing this form of technology and also almost every analyst from every research organization in the country defining the term differently, the meaning of the term has become very nebulous.Even among those who think they understand it, definitions vary, and most of those definitions are hazy at best. To clear the haze as we said previously, the term the cloud is often used as a metaphor for the Internet and has become a familiar cliché. However, when “the cloud” is combined with “computing,” it causes a lot of confusion.
- Market research analysts and technology vendors alike tend to define cloud computing very narrowly, as a new type of utility computing that basically uses virtual servers that have been made available to third parties via the Internet.
- Others tend to define the term using a very broad, all-encompassing application of the virtual computing platform. They contend that anything beyond the firewall perimeter is in the cloud.
- A more tempered view of cloud computing considers it the delivery of computational resources from a location other than the one from which you are computing.
The Global Nature of the Cloud
The cloud sees no borders and thus has made the world a much smaller place. The Internet is global in scope but respects only established communication paths. People from everywhere now have access to other people from anywhere else.
Globalization of computing assets may be the biggest contribution the cloud has made to date.For this reason, the cloud is the subject of many complex geopolitical issues.
Cloud vendors must satisfy myriad regulatory concerns in order to deliver cloud services to a global market.When the Internet was in its infancy, many people believed cyberspace was a distinct environment that needed laws specific to itself. University computing centers and the ARPANET were, for a time, the encapsulated environments where the Internet existed. It took a while to get business to warm up to the idea.
Cloud computing is still in its infancy. There is a hodge-podge of providers, both large and small, delivering a wide variety of cloud-based services. For example, there are :
- full-blown applications,
- support services,
- mail-filtering services,
- storage services, etc.
The concept of cloud computing becomes much more understandable when one begins to think about what modern IT environments always require:
the means to increase capacity or add capabilities to their infrastructure dynamically, without investing money in the purchase of new infrastructure, all the while without needing to conduct training for new personnel and without the need for licensing new software.Given a solution to the aforementioned needs, cloud computing models that encompass a subscription-based or pay-per-use paradigm provide a service that can be used over the Internet and extends an IT shop’s existing capabilities. Many users have found that this approach provides a return on investment that IT managers are more than willing to accept.
Cloud-Based Service Offerings
Cloud computing may be viewed as a resource available as a service for virtual data centers, but cloud computing and virtual data centers are not the same. For example, consider Amazon’s S3 Storage Service. This is a data storage service designed for use across the Internet (i.e., the cloud). It is designed to make web-scale computing easier for developers. According to Amazon:
Amazon S3 provides a simple web services interface that can be used to store and retrieve any amount of data, at any time, from anywhere on the web. It gives any developer access to the same highly scalable, reliable, fast, inexpensive data storage infrastructure that Amazon uses to run its own global network of web sites. The service aims to maximize benefits of scale and to pass those benefits on to developers(see here).Amazon.com has played a vital role in the development of cloud computing.
- In modernizing its data centers after the dot-com bubble burst in 2001, it discovered that the new cloud architecture it had implemented resulted in some very significant internal efficiency improvements.
- By providing access to its systems for third-party users on a utility computing basis, via Amazon Web Services, introduced in 2002, a revolution of sorts began.
This approach transformed cloud computing into a paradigm whereby data is permanently stored in remote servers accessible via the Internet and cached temporarily on client devices that may include desktops, tablet computers, notebooks, hand-held devices, mobile phones, etc., and is often called Software as a Service (SaaS).
SaaS is a type of cloud computing that delivers applications through a browser to thousands of customers using a multiuser architecture. The focus for SaaS is on the end user as opposed to managed services (described below).
- For the customer, there are no up-front investment costs in servers or software licensing.
- For the service provider, with just one product to maintain, costs are relatively low compared to the costs incurred with a conventional hosting model.
Another example is Google Apps, which provides online access via a web browser to the most common office and business applications used today, all the while keeping the software and user data stored on Google servers. A decade ago, no one could have predicted the sudden rise of SaaS applications such as these.
Managed service providers (MSPs) offer one of the oldest forms of cloud computing. Basically, a managed service is an application that is accessible to an organization’s IT infrastructure rather than to end users. Services include virus scanning for email, antispam services such as Postini,4 desktop management services such as those offered by CenterBeam5 or Everdream,6 and
application performance monitoring. Managed security services that are delivered by third-party providers also fall into this category.
Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) is yet another variation of SaaS. Sometimes referred to simply as web services in the cloud, PaaS is closely related to SaaS but delivers a platform from which to work rather than an application to work with. These service providers offer application programming interfaces (APIs) that enable developers to exploit functionality over the Internet, rather than delivering full-blown applications.
This variation of cloud computing delivers development environments to programmers, analysts, and software engineers as a service. A general model is implemented under which developers build applications designed to run on the provider’s infrastructure and which are delivered to users in via an Internet browser.The main drawback to this approach is that these services are limited by the vendor’s design and capabilities. This means a compromise between freedom to develop code that does something other than what the provider can provide and application predictability, performance, and integration. An example of this model is the Google App Engine. According to Google:
“Google App Engine makes it easy to build an application that runs reliably, even under heavy load and with large amounts of data.”The Google App Engine environment includes the following features:
- Dynamic web serving, with full support for common web technologies
- Persistent storage with queries, sorting, and transactions
- Automatic scaling and load balancing
- APIs for authenticating users and sending email using Google Accounts
- fully featured local development environment that simulates Google App Engine on your computer
Grid Computing or Cloud Computing?
Grid computing is often confused with cloud computing.
Grid computing is a form of distributed computing that implements a virtual supercomputer made up of a cluster of networked or Internetworked computers acting in unison to perform very large tasks. Many cloud computing deployments today are powered by grid computing implementations and are billed like utilities, but cloud computing can and should be seen as an evolved next step away from the grid utility model.There is an ever-growing list of providers that have successfully used cloud architectures with little or no centralized infrastructure or billing systems, such as the peer-to-peer network BitTorrent and the volunteer computing initiative SETI@home.
Service commerce platforms are yet another variation of SaaS and MSPs. This type of cloud computing service provides a centralized service hub that users interact with.
Currently, the most often used application of this platform is found in financial trading environments or systems that allow users to order things such as travel or personal services from a common platform (e.g., Expedia.com or Hotels.com), which then coordinates pricing and service delivery within the specifications set by the user.
Is the Cloud Model Reliable?
The majority of today’s cloud computing infrastructure consists of time-tested and highly reliable services built on servers with varying levels of virtualized technologies, which are delivered via large data centers operating under service-level agreements (SLAs) that require 99.99% or better uptime. Commercial offerings have evolved to meet the quality-of-service (QOS) requirements of customers and typically offer such service-level agreements to their customers. From users’ perspective, the cloud appears as a single point of access for all their computing needs. These cloud-based services are accessible anywhere in the world, as long as an Internet connection is available.
Open standards and open-source software have also been significant factors in the growth of cloud computing
Benefits of Using a Cloud Model
- Because customers generally do not own the infrastructure used in cloud computing environments, they can forgo capital expenditure and consume resources as a service by just paying for what they use. Many cloud computing offerings have adopted the utility computing and billing model described above, while others bill on a subscription basis. By sharing computing power among multiple users, utilization rates are generally greatly improved, because cloud computing servers are not sitting dormant for lack of use. This factor alone can reduce infrastructure costs significantly and accelerate the speed of applications development.
- A beneficial side effect of using this model is that computer capacity increases dramatically, since customers do not have to engineer their applications for peak times, when processing loads are greatest. Adoption of the cloud computing model has also been enabled because of the greater availability of increased high-speed bandwidth. With greater enablement, though, there are other issues one must consider, especially legal ones.
What About Legal Issues When Using Cloud Models?
Recently there have been some efforts to create and unify the legal environment specific to the cloud. For example, the United States–European Union Safe Harbor Act provides a seven-point framework of requirements for U.S. companies that may use data from other parts of the world, namely, the European Union. This framework sets forth how companies can participate and certify their compliance and is defined in detail on the U.S. Department of Commerce and Federal Trade Commission web sites.
In summary, the agreement allows most U.S. corporations to certify that they have joined a self-regulatory organization that adheres to the following seven Safe Harbor Principles or has implemented its own privacy policies that conform
with these principles:
- Notify individuals about the purposes for which information is collected and used.
- Give individuals the choice of whether their information can be disclosed to a third party.
- Ensure that if it transfers personal information to a third party, that third party also provides the same level of privacy protection.
- Allow individuals access to their personal information.
- Take reasonable security precautions to protect collected data from loss, misuse, or disclosure.
- Take reasonable steps to ensure the integrity of the data collected.;
- Have in place an adequate enforcement mechanism.
The USA PATRIOT Act, more commonly known as the Patriot Act, is a controversial Act of Congress that U.S. President George W. Bush signed into law on October 26, 2001. The contrived acronym stands for “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001” (Public Law P.L. 107-56). The Act expanded the definition of terrorism to include domestic terrorism, thus enlarging the number of activities to which the USA PATRIOT Act’s law enforcement powers could
be applied. It increased law enforcement agencies’ ability to surveil telephone, email communications, medical, financial, and other records and increased the range of discretion for law enforcement and immigration authorities when detaining and deporting immigrants suspected of terrorism-related acts. It lessened the restrictions on foreign intelligence gathering within the United States. Furthermore, it expanded the Secretary of the Treasury’s authority to regulate financial transactions involving foreign individuals and businesses.
The Electronic Communications Privacy Act’s Stored Communications Act is defined in the U.S. Code, Title 18, Part I, Chapter 121, § 2701, Unlawful Access to Stored Communications. Offenses committed under this act include intentional access without authorization to a facility through which an electronic communication service is provided or intentionally exceeding an authorization to access that facility in order to obtain, alter, or prevent authorized access to a wire or electronic communication while it is in electronic storage in such a system. Persons convicted under this Act can be punished if the offense is committed for purposes of commercial advantage, malicious destruction or damage, or private commercial gain, or in furtherance of any criminal or tortious act in violation of the Constitution or laws of the United States or any state by a fine or imprisonment or both for not more than five years in the case of a first offense. For a second or subsequent offense, the penalties stiffen to fine or imprisonment for not more than 10 years, or both.
What Are the Key Characteristics of Cloud Computing?
There are several key characteristics of a cloud computing environment.
Service offerings are most often made available to specific consumers and small businesses that see the benefit of use because their capital expenditure is minimized.This serves to lower barriers to entry in the marketplace, since the infrastructure used to provide these offerings is owned by the cloud service provider and need not be purchased by the customer. Because users are not tied to a specific device (they need only the ability to access the Internet) and because the Internet allows for location independence,
use of the cloud enables cloud computing service providers’ customers to access cloud-enabled systems regardless of where they may be located or what device they choose to use.Multitenancy (refers to a principle in software architecture where a single instance of the software runs on a SaaS vendor’s servers, serving multiple client organizations (tenants) ) enables sharing of resources and costs among a large pool of users. Chief benefits to a multitenancy approach include:
- Centralization of infrastructure and lower costs
- Increased peak-load capacity
- Efficiency improvements for systems that are often underutilized
- Dynamic allocation of CPU, storage, and network bandwidth
- Consistent performance that is monitored by the provider of the service
Reliability is often enhanced in cloud computing environments because service providers utilize multiple redundant sites.
This is attractive to enterprises for business continuity and disaster recovery reasons.
The drawback, however, is that IT managers can do very little when an outage occurs.
Another benefit that makes cloud services more reliable is that scalability can vary dynamically based on changing user demands. Because the service provider manages the necessary infrastructure, security often is vastly improved. As a result of data centralization, there is an increased focus on protecting customer resources maintained by the service provider. To assure customers that their data is safe, cloud providers are quick to invest in dedicated security staff. This is largely seen as beneficial but has also raised concerns about a user’s loss of control over sensitive data. Access to data is usually logged, but accessing the audit logs can be difficult or even impossible for the customer.
Data centers, computers, and the entire associated infrastructure needed to support cloud computing are major consumers of energy. Sustainability of the cloud computing model is achieved by leveraging improvements in resource utilization and implementation of more energy-efficient systems. In 2007, Google, IBM, and a number of universities began working on a large-scale cloud computing research project. By the summer of 2008, quite a few cloud computing events had been scheduled. The first annual conference on cloud computing was scheduled to be hosted online April 20–24, 2009. According to the official web site:
This conference is the world’s premier cloud computing event, covering research, development and innovations in the world of cloud computing. The program reflects the highest level of accomplishments in the cloud computing community, while the invited presentations feature an exceptional lineup of speakers. The panels, workshops, and tutorials are selected to cover a range of the hottest topics in cloud computing.It may seem that all the world is raving about the potential of the cloud computing model, but most business leaders are likely asking:
“What is the market opportunity for this technology and what is the future potential for long-term utilization of it?”Meaningful research and data are difficult to find at this point, but the potential uses for cloud computing models are wide.
Ultimately, cloud computing is likely to bring supercomputing capabilities to the masses. Yahoo, Google, Microsoft, IBM, and others are engaged in the creation of online services to give their users even better access to data to aid in daily life issues such as health care, finance, insurance, etc.
Challenges for the Cloud
The biggest challenges these companies face are
- secure data storage,
- high-speed access to the Internet, and
Another challenge to the cloud computing model is the fact that broadband penetration in the United States remains far behind that of many other countries in Europe and Asia. Cloud computing is untenable without high-speed connections (both wired and wireless). Unless broadband speeds are available, cloud computing services cannot be made widely accessible.
Finally, technical standards used for implementation of the various computer systems and applications necessary to make cloud computing work have still not been completely defined, publicly reviewed, and ratified by an oversight body. Even the consortiums that are forming need to get past that hurdle at some point, and until that happens, progress on new products will likely move at a snail’s pace.
Aside from the challenges discussed in the previous paragraph, the reliability of cloud computing has recently been a controversial topic in technology circles. Because of the public availability of a cloud environment, problems that occur in the cloud tend to receive lots of public exposure. Unlike problems that occur in enterprise environments, which often can be contained without publicity, even when only a few cloud computing users have problems, it makes headlines.
In October 2008, Google published an article online that discussed the lessons learned from hosting over a million business customers in the cloud computing model. Google‘s personnel measure availability as the average uptime per user based on server-side error rates. They believe this reliability metric allows a true side-by-side comparison with other solutions.
Their measurements are made for every server request for every user, every moment of every day, and even a single millisecond delay is logged. Google analyzed data collected over the previous year and discovered that their Gmail application was available to everyone more than 99.9% of the time.One might ask how a 99.9% reliability metric compares to conventional approaches used for business email. According to the research firm Radicati Group (The Radicati Group, 2008, “Corporate IT Survey—Messaging & Collaboration, 2008–2009), companies with on-premises email solutions averaged from 30 to 60 minutes of unscheduled downtime and an additional 36 to 90 minutes of planned downtime per month, compared to 10 to 15 minutes of downtime with Gmail. Based on analysis of these findings, Google claims that for unplanned outages, Gmail is twice as reliable as a Novell GroupWise solution and four times more reliable than a Microsoft Exchange-based solution, both of which require companies to maintain an internal infrastructure themselves. It stands to reason that higher reliability will translate to higher employee productivity.
Google discovered that Gmail is more than four times as reliable as the Novell GroupWise solution and 10 times more reliable than an Exchange-based solution when you factor in planned outages inherent in on-premises messaging platforms.
Based on these findings, Google was confident enough to announce publicly in October 2008 that the 99.9% service-level agreement offered to their Premier Edition customers using Gmail would be extended to Google Calendar, Google Docs, Google Sites, and Google Talk. Since more than a million businesses use Google Apps to run their businesses, Google has made a series of commitments to improve communications with customers during any outages and to make all issues visible and transparent through open user groups. Since Google itself runs on its Google Apps platform, the commitment they have made has teeth, and I am a strong advocate of “eating your own dog food.”
Google leads the industry in evolving the cloud computing model to become a part of what is being called Web 3.0—the next generation of Internet.Standardization is a crucial factor in gaining widespread adoption of the cloud computing model, and there are many different standards that need to be finalized before cloud computing becomes a mainstream method of computing for the masses.
The Evolution of Cloud Computing
It is important to understand the evolution of computing in order to get an appreciation of how we got into the cloud environment. Looking at the evolution of the computing hardware itself, from the first generation to the current (fourth) generation of computers, shows how we got from there to here. The hardware, however, was only part of the evolutionary process. As hardware evolved, so did software. As networking evolved, so did the rules for how computers communicate. The development of such rules, or protocols, also helped drive the evolution of Internet software.
Establishing a common protocol for the Internet led directly to rapid growth in the number of users online. This has driven technologists to make even more changes in current protocols and to create new ones. Today, we talk about the use of IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6) to mitigate addressing concerns and for improving the methods we use to communicate over the Internet. Over time, our ability to build a common interface to the Internet has evolved with the improvements in hardware and software.
Using web browsers has led to a steady migration away from the traditional data center model to a cloud-based model. Using technologies such as server virtualization, parallel processing, vector processing, symmetric multiprocessing, and massively parallel processing has fueled radical change. Let’s take a look at how this happened, so we can begin to understand more about the cloud.
In order to discuss some of the issues of the cloud concept, it is important to place the development of computational technology in a historical context. Looking at the Internet cloud’s evolutionary development (Paul Wallis, “A Brief History of Cloud Computing: Is the Cloud There Yet? A Look at the Cloud’s Forerunners and the Problems They Encountered”), and the problems encountered along the way, provides some key reference points to help us understand the challenges that had to be overcome to develop the Internet and the World Wide Web (WWW) today. These challenges fell into two primary areas, hardware and software. We will look first at the hardware side.
Our lives today would be different, and probably difficult, without the benefits of modern computers. Computerization has permeated nearly every facet of our personal and professional lives. Computer evolution has been both rapid and fascinating.
- The first step along the evolutionary path of computers occurred in 1930, when binary arithmetic was developed and became the foundation of computer processing technology, terminology, and programming languages. Calculating devices date back to at least as early as 1642, when a device that could mechanically add numbers was invented. Adding devices evolved from the abacus. It was a significant milestone in the history of computers.
- In 1939, the Berry brothers invented an electronic computer capable of operating digitally. Computations were performed using vacuum-tube technology.
- In 1941, the introduction of Konrad Zuse’s Z3 at the German Laboratory for Aviation in Berlin was one of the most significant events in the evolution of computers because this machine supported both floating-point and binary arithmetic. Because it was a “Turing-complete” device (A computational system that can compute every Turing-computable function is called Turing-complete (or Turing-powerful). Alternatively, such a system is one that can simulate a universal Turing machine), it is considered to be the very first computer that was fully operational. A programming language is considered Turing-complete if it falls into the same computational class as a Turing machine, meaning that it can perform any calculation a universal Turing machine can perform. This is especially significant because, under the Church-Turing thesis, a Turing machine is the embodiment of the intuitive notion of an algorithm. Over the course of the next two years, computer prototypes were built to decode secret German messages by the U.S. Army.
The first generation of modern computers can be traced to 1943, when the Mark I and Colossus computers were developed, albeit for quite different purposes. With financial backing from IBM (then International Business Machines Corporation), the Mark I was designed and developed at Harvard University. It was a general-purpose electromechanical programmable computer. Colossus, on the other hand, was an electronic computer built in Britain at the end 1943. Colossus was the world’s first programmable, digital, electronic, computing device. First-generation computers were built using hard-wired circuits and vacuum tubes (thermionic valves). Data was stored using paper punch cards. Colossus was used in secret during World War II to help decipher teleprinter messages encrypted by German forces using the Lorenz SZ40/42 machine. British code breakers referred to encrypted German teleprinter traffic as “Fish” and called the SZ40/42 machine and its traffic “Tunny” (see here)
To accomplish its deciphering task, Colossus compared two data streams read at high speed from a paper tape. Colossus evaluated one data stream representing the encrypted “Tunny,” counting each match that was discovered based on a programmable Boolean function. A comparison with the other data stream was then made. The second data stream was generated internally and designed to be an electronic simulation of the Lorenz SZ40/42 as it ranged through various trial settings. If the match count for a setting was above a predetermined threshold, that data match would be sent as character output to an electric typewriter.
Another general-purpose computer of this era was ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer), which was built in 1946. This was the first Turing-complete, digital computer capable of being reprogrammed to solve a full range of computing problems (Joel Shurkin, Engines of the Mind: The Evolution of the Computer from Mainframes to Microprocessors, New York: W. W. Norton, 1996), although earlier machines had been built with some of these properties.
ENIAC’s original purpose was to calculate artillery firing tables for the U.S. Army’s Ballistic Research Laboratory. ENIAC contained 18,000 thermionic valves, weighed over 60,000 pounds, and consumed 25 kilowatts of electrical power per hour. ENIAC was capable of performing 100,000 calculations a second.Within a year after its completion, however, the invention of the transistor meant that the inefficient thermionic valves could be replaced with smaller, more reliable components, thus marking another major step in the history of computing. Transistorized computers marked the advent of second-generation computers, which dominated in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Despite using transistors and printed circuits, these computers were still bulky and expensive. They were therefore used mainly by universities and government agencies.
The integrated circuit or microchip was developed by Jack St. Claire Kilby, an achievement for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2000. In congratulating him, U.S. President Bill Clinton wrote:
“You can take pride in the knowledge that your work will help to improve lives for generations to come.”It was a relatively simple device that Mr. Kilby showed to a handful of co-workers gathered in the semiconductor lab at Texas Instruments more than half a century ago. It was just a transistor and a few other components on a slice of germanium. Little did this group realize that Kilby’s invention was about to revolutionize the electronics industry.
Kilby’s invention started an explosion in third-generation computers. Even though the first integrated circuit was produced in September 1958, microchips were not used in computers until 1963. While mainframe computers like the IBM 360 increased storage and processing capabilities even further, the integrated circuit allowed the development of minicomputers that began to bring computing into many smaller businesses. Large-scale integration of circuits led to the development of very small processing units, the next step along the evolutionary trail of computing.
In November 1971, Intel released the world’s first commercial microprocessor, the Intel 4004. The 4004 was the first complete CPU on one chip and became the first commercially available microprocessor. It was possible because of the development of new silicon gate technology that enabled engineers to integrate a much greater number of transistors on a chip that would perform at a much faster speed. This development enabled the rise of the fourth-generation computer platforms.
The fourth-generation computers that were being developed at this time utilized a microprocessor that put the computer’s processing capabilities on a single integrated circuit chip. By combining random access memory (RAM), developed by Intel, fourth-generation computers were faster than ever before and had much smaller footprints. The 4004 processor was capable of “only” 60,000 instructions per second. As technology progressed, however, new processors brought even more speed and computing capability to users. The microprocessors that evolved from the 4004 allowed manufacturers to begin developing personal computers small enough and cheap enough to be purchased by the general public.
The first commercially available personal computer was the MITS Altair 8800, released at the end of 1974. What followed was a flurry of other personal computers to market, such as
- the Apple I and II,
- the Commodore PET,
- the VIC-20,
- the Commodore 64, and
- eventually the original IBM PC in 1981.
Internet Software Evolution
The Internet is named after the Internet Protocol, the standard communications protocol used by every computer on the Internet. The conceptual foundation for creation of the Internet was significantly developed by three individuals. The first, Vannevar Bush, wrote a visionary description of the potential uses for information technology with his description of an automated library system named MEMEX (see Figure). Bush introduced the concept of the MEMEX in the 1930s as a microfilm-based “device in which an individual stores all his books, records, and communications, and which is mechanized so that it may be consulted with exceeding speed and flexibility”(see here).
After thinking about the potential of augmented memory for several years, Bush wrote an essay entitled “As We May Think” in 1936. It was finally published in July 1945 in the Atlantic Monthly. In the article, Bush predicted:
“Wholly new forms of encyclopedias will appear, ready made with a mesh of associative trails running through them, ready to be dropped into the MEMEX and there amplified.” (see here)In September 1945, Life magazine published a condensed version of “As We May Think” that was accompanied by several graphic illustrations showing what a MEMEX machine might look like, along with its companion devices.
The second individual to have a profound effect in shaping the Internet was Norbert Wiener. Wiener was an early pioneer in the study of stochastic and noise processes. His work in stochastic and noise processes was relevant to electronic engineering, communication, and control systems. He also founded the field of cybernetics. This field of study formalized notions of feedback and influenced research in many other fields, such as engineering, systems control, computer science, biology, philosophy, etc. His work in cybernetics inspired future researchers to focus on extending human capabilities with technology. Influenced by Wiener, Marshall McLuhan put forth the idea of a global village that was interconnected by an electronic nervous system as part of our popular culture.
In 1957, the Soviet Union launched the first satellite, Sputnik I, prompting U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower to create the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA) agency to regain the technological lead in the arms race. ARPA (renamed DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, in 1972) appointed J. C. R. Licklider to head the new Information Processing Techniques Office (IPTO). Licklider was given a mandate to further the research of the SAGE system. The SAGE system (see Figure) was a continental air-defense network commissioned by the U.S. military and designed to help protect the United States against a space-based nuclear attack. SAGE stood for Semi-Automatic Ground Environment.
SAGE was the most ambitious computer project ever undertaken at the time, and it required over 800 programmers and the technical resources of some of America’s largest corporations. SAGE was started in the 1950s and became operational by 1963. It remained in continuous operation for over 20 years, until 1983.While working at ITPO, Licklider evangelized the potential benefits of a country-wide communications network. His chief contribution to the development of the Internet was his ideas, not specific inventions.
He foresaw the need for networked computers with easy user interfaces. His ideas foretold of graphical computing, point-and-click interfaces, digital libraries, e-commerce, online banking, and software that would exist on a network and migrate to wherever it was needed.Licklider worked for several years at ARPA, where he set the stage for the creation of the ARPANET. He also worked at Bolt Beranek and Newman (BBN), the company that supplied the first computers connected on the ARPANET.
After he had left ARPA, Licklider succeeded in convincing his replacement to hire a man named Lawrence Roberts, believing that Roberts was just the person to implement Licklider’s vision of the future network computing environment. Roberts led the development of the network. His efforts were based on a novel idea of “packet switching” that had been developed by Paul Baran while working at RAND Corporation.
The idea for a common interface to the ARPANET was first suggested in Ann Arbor, Michigan, by Wesley Clark at an ARPANET design session set up by Lawrence Roberts in April 1967. Roberts’s implementation plan called for each site that was to connect to the ARPANET to write the software necessary to connect its computer to the network. To the attendees, this approach seemed like a lot of work. There were so many different kinds of computers and operating systems in use throughout the DARPA community that every piece of code would have to be individually written, tested, implemented, and maintained. Clark told Roberts that he thought the design was “bass-ackwards” (the art and science of hurtling blindly in the wrong direction with no sense of the impending doom about to be inflicted on one’s sorry ass. Usually applied to procedures, processes, or theories based on faulty logic, or faulty personnel)
After the meeting, Roberts stayed behind and listened as Clark elaborated on his concept to deploy a minicomputer called an Interface Message Processor (IMP) (see Figure) at each site. The IMP would handle the interface to the ARPANET network. The physical layer, the data link layer, and the network layer protocols used internally on the ARPANET were implemented on this IMP. Using this approach, each site would only have to write one interface to the commonly deployed IMP. The host at each site connected itself to the IMP using another type of interface that had different physical, data link, and network layer specifications. These were specified by the Host/IMP Protocol in BBN Report 1822 (Frank Heart, Robert Kahn, Severo Ornstein, William Crowther, and David Walden, “The Interface Message Processor for the ARPA Computer Network,” Proc. 1970 Spring Joint Computer Conference 36:551–567, AFIPS, 1970).
So, as it turned out, the first networking protocol that was used on the ARPANET was the Network Control Program (NCP). The NCP provided the middle layers of a protocol stack running on an ARPANET-connected host computer (see also here). The NCP managed the connections and flow control among the various processes running on different ARPANET host computers. An application layer, built on top of the NCP, provided services such as email and file transfer. These applications used the NCP to handle connections to other host computers.
the Internet architecture was an open architecture from the very beginning. The Interface Message Processor interface for the ARPANET went live in early October 1969. The implementation of the architecture is depicted in Figure 1.8.
Establishing a Common Protocol for the Internet
Since the lower-level protocol layers were provided by the IMP host interface, the NCP essentially provided a transport layer consisting of the ARPANET Host-to-Host Protocol (AHHP) and the Initial Connection Protocol (ICP). The AHHP specified how to transmit a unidirectional, flow-controlled data stream between two hosts. The ICP specified how to establish a bidirectional pair of data streams between a pair of connected host processes. Application protocols such as File Transfer Protocol (FTP), used for file transfers, and Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP), used for sending email, accessed network services through an interface to the top layer of the NCP.
On January 1, 1983, known as Flag Day, NCP was rendered obsolete when the ARPANET changed its core networking protocols from NCP to the more flexible and powerful TCP/IP protocol suite, marking the start of the Internet as we know it today.It was actually Robert Kahn and Vinton Cerf who built on what was learned with NCP to develop the TCP/IP networking protocol we use today. TCP/IP quickly became the most widely used network protocol in the world. The Internet’s open nature and use of the more efficient TCP/IP protocol became the cornerstone of an internetworking design that has become the most widely used network protocol in the world.
The history of TCP/IP reflects an interdependent design. Development of this protocol was conducted by many people. Over time, there evolved four increasingly better versions of TCP/IP (TCP v1, TCP v2, a split into TCP v3 and IP v3,and TCP v4 and IPv4).Today, IPv4 is the standard protocol, but it is in the process of being replaced by IPv6, which is described later.
The TCP/IP protocol was deployed to the ARPANET, but not all sites were all that willing to convert to the new protocol. To force the matter to a head, the TCP/IP team turned off the NCP network channel numbers on the ARPANET IMPs twice. The first time they turned it off for a full day in mid-1982, so that only sites using TCP/IP could still operate. The second time, later that fall, they disabled NCP again for two days. The full switchover to TCP/IP happened on January 1, 1983, without much hassle. Even after that, however, there were still a few ARPANET sites that were down for as long as three months while their systems were retrofitted to use the new protocol.
In 1984, the U.S. Department of Defense made TCP/IP the standard for all military computer networking, which gave it a high profile and stable funding.By 1990, the ARPANET was retired and transferred to the NSFNET. The NSFNET was soon connected to the CSNET, which linked universities around North America, and then to the EUnet, which connected research facilities in Europe. Thanks in part to the National Science Foundation’s enlightened management, and fueled by the growing popularity of the web, the use of the Internet exploded after 1990, prompting the U.S. government to transfer management to independent organizations starting in 1995.
Evolution of Ipv6
The amazing growth of the Internet throughout the 1990s caused a vast reduction in the number of free IP addresses available under IPv4. IPv4 was never designed to scale to global levels. To increase available address space, it had to process data packets that were larger (i.e., that contained more bits of data). This resulted in a longer IP address and that caused problems for existing hardware and software. Solving those problems required the design, development, and implementation of a new architecture and new hardware to support it. It also required changes to all of the TCP/IP routing software. After examining a number of proposals, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) settled on IPv6, which was released in January 1995 as RFC 1752 . Ipv6 is sometimes called the Next Generation Internet Protocol (IPNG) or TCP/IP v6. Following release of the RFP, a number of organizations began working toward making the new protocol the de facto standard.
Fast-forward nearly a decade later, and by 2004, IPv6 was widely available from industry as an integrated TCP/IP protocol and was supported by most new Internet networking equipment.
Finding a Common Method to Communicate Using the Internet Protocol
In the 1960s, twenty years after Vannevar Bush proposed MEMEX, the word hypertext was coined by Ted Nelson. Ted Nelson was one of the major visionaries of the coming hypertext revolution. He knew that the technology of his time could never handle the explosive growth of information that was proliferating across the planet. Nelson popularized the hypertext concept, but it was Douglas Engelbart who developed the first working hypertext systems. At the end of World War II, Douglas Engelbart was a 20-year-old U.S. Navy radar technician in the Philippines. One day, in a Red Cross library, he picked up a copy of the Atlantic Monthly dated July 1945. He happened to come across Vannevar Bush’s article about the MEMEX automated library system and was strongly influenced by this vision of the future of information technology. Sixteen years later, Engelbart published his own version of Bush’s vision in a paper prepared for the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and Development. In Englebart’s paper, “Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework,” he described an advanced electronic information system:
Most of the structuring forms I’ll show you stem from the simple capability of being able to establish arbitrary linkages between different substructures, and of directing the computer subsequently to display a set of linked substructures with any relative positioning we might designate among the different substructures. You can designate as many different kinds of links as you wish, so that you can specify different display or manipulative treatment for the different types.Engelbart joined Stanford Research Institute in 1962. His first project was Augment, and its purpose was to develop computer tools to augment human capabilities. Part of this effort required that he developed the mouse, the graphical user interface (GUI), and the first working hypertext system, named NLS (derived from oN-Line System). NLS was designed to cross-reference research papers for sharing among geographically distributed researchers. NLS provided groupware capabilities, screen sharing among remote users, and reference links for moving between sentences within a research paper and from one research paper to another. Engelbart’s NLS system was chosen as the second node on the ARPANET, giving him a role in the invention of the Internet as well as the World Wide Web.
In the 1980s, a precursor to the web as we know it today was developed in Europe by Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau. Its popularity skyrocketed, in large part because Apple Computer delivered its HyperCard product free with every Macintosh bought at that time. In 1987, the effects of hypertext rippled through the industrial community. HyperCard was the first hypertext editing system available to the general public, and it caught on very quickly. In the 1990s, Marc Andreessen and a team at the National Center for Supercomputer Applications (NCSA), a research institute at the University of Illinois, developed the Mosaic and Netscape browsers. A technology revolution few saw coming was in its infancy at this point in time.
Building a Common Interface to the Internet
While Marc Andreessen and the NCSA team were working on their browsers, Robert Cailliau at CERN independently proposed a project to develop a hypertext system. He joined forces with Berners-Lee to get the web initiative into high gear. Cailliau rewrote his original proposal and lobbied CERN management for funding for programmers. He and Berners-Lee worked on papers and presentations in collaboration, and Cailliau helped run the very first WWW conference.
In the fall of 1990, Berners-Lee developed the first web browser (Figure) featuring an integrated editor that could create hypertext documents. He installed the application on his and Cailliau’s computers, and they both began communicating via the world’s first web server, at info.cern.ch, on December 25, 1990.
Usenet newsgroups instantly accessible via a web page displayed in his browser. He also added a Telnet server on info.cern.ch, making a simple line browser available to anyone with a Telnet client.
The first public demonstration of Berners-Lee’s web server was at a conference called Hypertext 91. This web server came to be known as CERN httpd (short for hypertext transfer protocol daemon), and work in it continued until July 1996. Before work stopped on the CERN httpd, Berners-Lee managed to get CERN to provide a certification on April 30, 1993, that the web technology and program code was in the public domain so that anyone could use and improve it. This was an important decision that helped the web to grow to enormous proportions.
In 1992, Joseph Hardin and Dave Thompson were working at the NCSA. When Hardin and Thompson heard about Berners-Lee’s work, they downloaded the Viola WWW browser and demonstrated it to NCSA’s Software Design Group by connecting to the web server at CERN over the Internet. The Software Design Group was impressed by what they saw. Two students from the group, Marc Andreessen and Eric Bina, began work on a browser version for X-Windows on Unix computers, first released as version 0.5 on January 23, 1993 (Figure). Within a week, Andreeson’s release message was forwarded to various newsgroups by Berners-Lee. This generated a huge swell in the user base and subsequent redistribution ensued, creating a wider awareness of the product. Working together to support the product, Bina provided expert coding support while Andreessen provided excellent customer support. They monitored the newsgroups continuously to ensure that they knew about and could fix any bugs reported and make the desired enhancements pointed out by the user base.
Mosaic was the first widely popular web browser available to the general public.It helped spread use and knowledge of the web across the world. Mosaic provided support for graphics, sound, and video clips. An early version of Mosaic introduced forms support, enabling many powerful new uses and applications. Innovations including the use of bookmarks and history files were added. Mosaic became even more popular, helping further the growth of the World Wide Web. In mid-1994, after Andreessen had graduated from the University of Illinois, Silicon Graphics founder Jim Clark collaborated with Andreessen to found Mosaic Communications, which was later renamed Netscape Communications.
Mozilla 0.96b, over the Internet. The final version, named Mozilla 1.0, was released in December 1994. It became the very first commercial web browser. The Mosaic programming team then developed another web browser, which they named Netscape Navigator. Netscape Navigator was later renamed Netscape Communicator, then renamed back to just Netscape. See Figure 1.12.
During this period, Microsoft was not asleep at the wheel. Bill Gates realized that the WWW was the future and focused vast resources to begin developing a product to compete with Netscape. In 1995, Microsoft hosted an Internet Strategy Day and announced its commitment to adding Internet capabilities to all its products. In fulfillment of that announcement, Microsoft Internet Explorer arrived as both a graphical Web browser and the name for a set of technologies.
In July 1995, Microsoft released the Windows 95 operating system, which included built-in support for dial-up networking and TCP/IP, two key technologies for connecting a PC to the Internet. It also included an add-on to the operating system called Internet Explorer 1.0 (Figure). When Windows 95 with Internet Explorer debuted, the WWW became accessible to a great many more people. Internet Explorer technology originally shipped as the Internet Jumpstart Kit in Microsoft Plus! for Windows 95.
One of the key factors in the success of Internet Explorer was that it eliminated the need for cumbersome manual installation that was required by many of the existing shareware browsers. Users embraced the “do-it-for-me” installation model provided by Microsoft, and browser loyalty went out the window. The Netscape browser led in user and market share until Microsoft released Internet Explorer, but the latter product took the market lead in 1999. This was due mainly to its distribution advantage, because it was included in every version of Microsoft Windows.
The browser wars had begun, and the battlefield was the Internet. In response to Microsoft’s move, Netscape decided in 2002 to release a free, open source software version of Netscape named Mozilla (which was the internal name for the old Netscape browser). Mozilla has steadily gained market share, particularly on non-Windows platforms such as Linux, largely because of its open source foundation. Mozilla Firefox, released in November 2004, became very popular almost immediately.
The Appearance of Cloud Formations (From One Computer to a Grid of Many)
Two decades ago, computers were clustered together to form a single larger computer in order to simulate a supercomputer and harness greater processing power. This technique was common and was used by many IT departments.
Clustering, as it was called, allowed one to configure computers using special protocols so they could “talk” to each other.The purpose was to balance the computational load across several machines, dividing up units of work and spreading it across multiple processors. To the user, it made little difference which CPU executed an application. Cluster management software ensured that the CPU with the most available processing capability at that time was used to run the code. A key to efficient cluster management was engineering where the data was to be held. This process became known as data residency. Computers in the cluster were usually physically connected to magnetic disks that stored and retrieved a data while the CPUs performed input/output (I/O) processes quickly and efficiently.
In the early 1990s, Ian Foster and Carl Kesselman presented their concept of “The Grid.” They used an analogy to the electricity grid, where users could plug in and use a (metered) utility service. They reasoned that if companies cannot generate their own power, it would be reasonable to assume they would purchase that service from a third party capable of providing a steady electricity supply. So, they asked, “Why can’t the same apply to computing resources?” If one node could plug itself into a grid of computers and pay only for the resources it used, it would be a more cost-effective solution for companies than buying and managing their own infrastructure. Grid computing expands on the techniques used in clustered computing models, where multiple independent clusters appear to act like a grid simply because they are not allocated within the same domain (see also here).
A major obstacle to overcome in the migration from a clustering model to grid computing was data residency. Because of the distributed nature of a grid, computational nodes could be anywhere in the world. Paul Wallis explained the data residency issue for a grid model like this:
It was fine having all that CPU power available, but the data on which the CPU performed its operations could be thousands of miles away, causing a delay (latency) between data fetch and execution. CPUs need to be fed and watered with different volumes of data depending on the tasks they are processing. Running a data-intensive process with disparate data sources can create a bottleneck in the I/O, causing the CPU to run inefficiently, and affecting economic viability.The issues of storage management, migration of data, and security provisioning were key to any proposed solution in order for a grid model to succeed. A toolkit called Globus was created to solve these issues, but the infrastructure hardware available still has not progressed to a level where true grid computing can be wholly achieved.
The Globus Toolkit is an open source software toolkit used for building grid systems and applications. It is being developed and maintained by the Globus Alliance and many others all over the world. The Globus Alliance has grown into community of organizations and individuals developing fundamental technologies to support the grid model.
The toolkit provided by Globus allows people to share computing power, databases, instruments, and other online tools securely across corporate, institutional, and geographic boundaries without sacrificing local autonomy.The cloud is helping to further propagate the grid computing model. Cloud-resident entities such as data centers have taken the concepts of grid computing and bundled them into service offerings that appeal to other entities that do not want the burden of infrastructure but do want the capabilities hosted from those data centers. One of the most well known of the new cloud service providers is Amazon’s S3 (Simple Storage Service) third-party storage solution.
Amazon S3 is storage for the Internet. According to the Amazon S3 website, it provides a simple web services interface that can be used to store and retrieve any amount of data, at any time, from anywhere on the web. It gives any developer access to the same highly scalable, reliable, fast, inexpensive data storage infrastructure that Amazon uses to run its own global network of web sites. The service aims to maximize benefits of scale and to pass those benefits on to developers.In 2002, EMC offered a Content Addressable Storage (CAS) solution called Centera as yet another cloud-based data storage service that competes with Amazon’s offering. EMC’s product creates a global network of data centers, each with massive storage capabilities. When a user creates a document, the application server sends it to the Centera storage system. The storage system then returns a unique content address to the server. The unique address allows the system to verify the integrity of the documents whenever a user moves or copies them. From that point, the application can request the document by submitting the address. Duplicates of documents are saved only once under the same address, leading to reduced storage requirements. Centera then retrieves the document regardless of where it may be physically located.
EMC’s Centera product takes the sensible approach that no one can afford the risk of placing all of their data in one place, so the data is distributed around the globe. Their cloud will monitor data usage and automatically move data around in order to load-balance data requests and better manage the flow of Internet traffic. Centera is constantly self-tuning to react automatically to surges in demand. The Centera architecture functions as a cluster that automatically configures itself upon installation. The system also handles fail-over, load balancing, and failure notification.
There are some drawbacks to these cloud-based solutions, however. An example is a recent problem at Amazon S3. They suffered a “massive” out-age in February 2008, which served to highlight the risks involved with adopting such cloud-based service offerings. Amazon’s technical representative from the Web Services Team commented publicly with the following press release:
Early this morning, at 3:30am PST, we started seeing elevated levels of authenticated requests from multiple users in one of our locations. While we carefully monitor our overall request volumes and these remained within normal ranges, we had not been monitoring the proportion of authenticated requests. Importantly, these cryptographic requests consume more resources per call than other request types. Shortly before 4:00am PST, we began to see several other users significantly increase their volume of authenticated calls. The last of these pushed the authentication service over its maximum capacity before we could complete putting new capacity in place. In addition to processing authenticated requests, the authentication service also performs account validation on every request Amazon S3 handles. This caused Amazon S3 to be unable to process any requests in that location, beginning at 4:31am PST. By 6:48am PST, we had moved enough capacity online to resolve the issue. As we said earlier today, though we’re proud of our uptime track record over the past two years with this service, any amount of downtime is unacceptable. As part of the post mortem for this event, we have identified a set of short-term actions as well as longer term improvements. We are taking immediate action on the following: (a) improving our monitoring of the proportion of authenticated requests; (b) further increasing our authentication service capacity; and (c) adding additional defensive measures around the authenticated calls. Additionally, we’ve begun work on a service health dashboard, and expect to release that shortly.The message above clearly points out the lesson one should take from this particular incident: caveat emptor, which is Latin for “Let the buyer beware.”
The Amazon Web Services Team
Virtualization is a method of running multiple independent virtual operating systems on a single physical computer. This approach maximizes the return on investment for the computer. The term was coined in the 1960s in reference to a virtual machine (sometimes called a pseudo-machine). The creation and management of virtual machines has often been called platform virtualization. Platform virtualization is performed on a given computer (hardware platform) by software called a control program. The control program creates a simulated environment, a virtual computer, which enables the device to use hosted software specific to the virtual environment, sometimes called guest software.
The guest software, which is often itself a complete operating system, runs just as if it were installed on a stand-alone computer. Frequently, more than one virtual machine is able to be simulated on a single physical computer, their number being limited only by the host device’s physical hardware resources. Because the guest software often requires access to specific peripheral devices in order to function, the virtualized platform must support guest interfaces to those devices. Examples of such devices are the hard disk drive, CD-ROM, DVD, and network interface card.
Virtualization technology is a way of reducing the majority of hardware acquisition and maintenance costs, which can result in significant savings for any company.Parallel Processing
Parallel processing is performed by the simultaneous execution of program instructions that have been allocated across multiple processors with the objective of running a program in less time.
- On the earliest computers, a user could run only one program at a time. This being the case, a computation-intensive program that took X minutes to run, using a tape system for data I/O that took X minutes to run, would take a total of X + X minutes to execute. To improve performance, early forms of parallel processing were developed to allow interleaved execution of both programs simultaneously. The computer would start an I/O operation (which is typically measured in milliseconds), and while it was waiting for the I/O operation to complete, it would execute the processor-intensive program (measured in nanoseconds). The total execution time for the two jobs combined became only slightly longer than the X minutes required for the I/O operations to complete.
- The next advancement in parallel processing was multiprogramming. In a multiprogramming system, multiple programs submitted by users are each allowed to use the processor for a short time, each taking turns and having exclusive time with the processor in order to execute instructions. This approach is known as Round-Robin scheduling (RR scheduling). It is one of the oldest, simplest, fairest, and most widely used scheduling algorithms, designed especially for time-sharing systems. In RR scheduling, a small unit of time called a time slice (or quantum) is defined. All executable processes are held in a circular queue. The time slice is defined based on the number of executable processes that are in the queue. For example, if there are five user processes held in the queue and the time slice allocated for the queue to execute in total is 1 second, each user process is allocated 200 milliseconds of process execution time on the CPU before the scheduler begins moving to the next process in the queue. The CPU scheduler manages this queue, allocating the CPU to each process for a time interval of one time slice. New processes are always added to the end of the queue(FIFO). The CPU scheduler picks the first process from the queue, sets its timer to interrupt the process after the expiration of the timer, and then dispatches the next process in the queue. The process whose time has expired is placed at the end of the queue. If a process is still running at the end of a time slice, the CPU is interrupted and the process goes to the end of the queue. If the process finishes before the end of the time-slice, it releases the CPU voluntarily. In either case, the CPU scheduler assigns the CPU to the next process in the queue. Every time a process is granted the CPU, a context switch occurs, which adds overhead to the process execution time. To users it appears that all of the programs are executing at the same time. Resource contention problems often arose in these early systems. Explicit requests for resources led to a condition known as deadlock. Competition for resources on machines with no tie-breaking instructions led to the critical section routine. Contention occurs when several processes request access to the same resource. In order to detect deadlock situations, a counter for each processor keeps track of the number of consecutive requests from a process that have been rejected. Once that number reaches a predetermined threshold, a state machine that inhibits other processes from making requests to the main store is initiated until the deadlocked process is successful in gaining access to the resource.
The next step in the evolution of parallel processing was the introduction of multiprocessing. Here, two or more processors share a common workload. The earliest versions of multiprocessing were designed as a master/slave model, where one processor (the master) was responsible for all of the tasks to be performed and it only off-loaded tasks to the other processor (the slave) when the master processor determined, based on a predetermined threshold, that work could be shifted to increase performance. This arrangement was necessary because it was not then understood how to program the machines so they could cooperate in managing the resources of the system.
Vector processing was developed to increase processing performance by operating in a multitasking manner. Matrix operations were added to computers to allow a single instruction to manipulate two arrays of numbers performing arithmetic operations. This was valuable in certain types of applications in which data occurred in the form of vectors or matrices. In applications with less well-formed data, vector processing was less valuable.
Symmetric Multiprocessing Systems
The next advancement was the development of symmetric multiprocessing systems (SMP) to address the problem of resource management in master/slave models. In SMP systems, each processor is equally capable and responsible for managing the workflow as it passes through the system. The primary goal is to achieve sequential consistency, in other words, to make SMP systems appear to be exactly the same as a single-processor, multiprogramming platform. Engineers discovered that system performance could be increased nearly 10–20% by executing some instructions out of order. However, programmers had to deal with the increased complexity and cope with a situation where two or more programs might read and write the same operands simultaneously. This difficulty, however, is limited to a very few programmers, because it only occurs in rare circumstances. To this day, the question of how SMP machines should behave when accessing shared data remains unresolved.
Data propagation time increases in proportion to the number of processors added to SMP systems. After a certain number (usually somewhere around 40 to 50 processors), performance benefits gained by using even more processors do not justify the additional expense of adding such processors. To solve the problem of long data propagation times, message passing systems were created. In these systems, programs that share data send messages to each other to announce that particular operands have been assigned a new value. Instead of a global message announcing an operand’s new value, the message is communicated only to those areas that need to know the change. There is a network designed to support the transfer of messages between applications. This allows a great number processors (as many as several thousand) to work in tandem in a system. These systems are highly scalable and are called massively parallel processing (MPP) systems.
Massively Parallel Processing Systems
Massive parallel processing is used in computer architecture circles to refer to a computer system with many independent arithmetic units or entire microprocessors, which run in parallel. “Massive” connotes hundreds if not thousands of such units.
In this form of computing, all the processing elements are interconnected to act as one very large computer. This approach is in contrast to a distributed computing model, where massive numbers of separate computers are used to solve a single problem (such as in the SETI project, mentioned previously).Early examples of MPP systems were the Distributed Array Processor, the Goodyear MPP, the Connection Machine, and the Ultracomputer. In data mining, there is a need to perform multiple searches of a static database. The earliest massively parallel processing systems all used serial computers as individual processing units in order to maximize the number of units available for a given size and cost. Single-chip implementations of massively parallel processor arrays are becoming ever more cost effective due to the advancements in integrated-circuit technology.
- An example of the use of MPP can be found in the field of artificial intelligence. For example, a chess application must analyze the outcomes of many possible alternatives and formulate the best course of action to take.
- Another example can be found in scientific environments, where certain simulations (such as molecular modeling) and complex mathematical problems can be split apart and each part processed simultaneously.
- Parallel data query (PDQ) is a technique used in business. This technique divides very large data stores into pieces based on various algorithms. Rather than searching sequentially through an entire database to resolve a query, 26 CPUs might be used simultaneously to perform a sequential search, each CPU individually evaluating a letter of the alphabet. MPP machines are not easy to program, but for certain applications, such as data mining, they are the best solution.
Web Services Delivered from the CloudSection Overview
Here we will examine some of the web services delivered from the cloud. We will take a look at Communication-as-a-Service (CaaS) and explain some of the advantages of using CaaS. Infrastructure is also a service in cloud land, and there are many variants on how infrastructure is managed in cloud environments. When vendors outsource Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), it relies heavily on modern on-demand computing technology and high-speed networking. We will look at some vendors who provide Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), such as Amazon.com with their elastic cloud platform, and foray into the implementation issues, the characteristics, benefits, and architectural maturity level of the service. Outsourced hardware environments (called platforms) are available as Platforms-as-a-Service (PaaS), and we will look at Mosso (Rackspace) and examine key characteristics of their PaaS implementation.
As technology migrates from the traditional on-premise model to the new cloud model, service offerings evolve almost daily. Our intent here is to provide some basic exposure to where the field is currently from the perspective of the technology and give you a feel for where it will be in the not-too-distant future.
Web service offerings often have a number of common characteristics, such as a low barrier to entry, where services are offered specifically for consumers and small business entities. Often, little or no capital expenditure for infrastructure is required from the customer. While massive scalability is common with these types of offerings, it not always necessary. Many cloud vendors have yet to achieve massive scalability because their user base generally does not require it. Multitenancy enables cost and resource sharing across the (often vast) user base. Finally, device and location independence enables users to access systems regardless of where they are or what device they are using. Now, let’s examine some of the more common web service offerings.
CaaS is an outsourced enterprise communications solution. Providers of this type of cloud-based solution (known as CaaS vendors) are responsible for the management of hardware and software required for delivering Voice over IP (VoIP) services, Instant Messaging (IM), and video conferencing capabilities to their customers.
This model began its evolutionary process from within the telecommunications (Telco) industry, not unlike how the SaaS model arose from the software delivery services sector.CaaS vendors are responsible for all of the hardware and software management consumed by their user base. CaaS vendors typically offer guaranteed quality of service (QoS) under a service-level agreement (SLA).
A CaaS model allows a CaaS provider’s business customers to selectively deploy communications features and services throughout their company on a pay-as-you-go basis for service(s) used. CaaS is designed on a utility-like pricing model that provides users with comprehensive, flexible, and (usually) simple-to-understand service plans. According to Gartner,1 the CaaS market is expected to total $2.3 billion in 2011, representing a compound annual growth rate of more than 105% for the period (Gartner Press Release, “Gartner Forecasts Worldwide Communications-as-a-Service Revenue to Total $252 Million in 2007”).
CaaS service offerings are often bundled and may include :
- integrated access to traditional voice (or VoIP) and data,
- advanced unified communications functionality such as video calling,
- web collaboration,
- real-time presence and unified messaging,
- a handset, local and long-distance voice services,
- voice mail,
- advanced calling features (such as caller ID, three-way and conference calling, etc.) and
- advanced PBX functionality.
- redundant switching,
- POP and circuit diversity,
- customer premises equipment redundancy,
- and WAN fail-over that specifically addresses the needs of their customers.
CaaS offers flexibility and scalability that small and medium-sized business might not otherwise be able to afford. CaaS service providers are usually prepared to handle peak loads for their customers by providing services capable of allowing more capacity, devices, modes or area coverage as their customer demand necessitates.
Network capacity and feature sets can be changed dynamically, so functionality keeps pace with consumer demand and provider-owned resources are not wasted. From the service provider customer’s perspective, there is very little to virtually no risk of the service becoming obsolete, since the provider’s responsibility is to perform periodic upgrades or replacements of hardware and software to keep the platform technologically current.CaaS requires little to no management oversight from customers. It eliminates the business customer’s need for any capital investment in infrastructure, and it eliminates expense for ongoing maintenance and operations overhead for infrastructure. With a CaaS solution, customers are able to leverage enterprise-class communication services without having to build a premises-based solution of their own. This allows those customers to reallocate budget and personnel resources to where their business can best use them.
Advantages of CaaS
From the handset found on each employee’s desk to the PC-based software client on employee laptops, to the VoIP private backbone, and all modes in between, every component in a CaaS solution is managed 24/7 by the CaaS vendor. As we said previously, the expense of managing a carrier-grade data center is shared across the vendor’s customer base, making it more economical for businesses to implement CaaS than to build their own VoIP network. Let’s look as some of the advantages of a hosted approach for CaaS.
Hosted and Managed Solutions
Remote management of infrastructure services provided by third parties once seemed an unacceptable situation to most companies. However, over the past decade, with enhanced technology, networking, and software, the attitude has changed. This is, in part, due to cost savings achieved in using those services. However, unlike the “one-off ” services offered by specialist providers, CaaS delivers a complete communications solution that is entirely managed by a single vendor. Along with features such as VoIP and unified communications, the integration of core PBX features with advanced functionality is managed by one vendor, who is responsible for all of the integration and delivery of services to users.
Fully Integrated, Enterprise-Class Unified Communications
With CaaS, the vendor provides voice and data access and manages LAN/WAN, security, routers, email, voice mail, and data storage. By managing the LAN/WAN, the vendor can guarantee consistent quality of service from a user’s desktop across the network and back. Advanced unified communications features that are most often a part of a standard CaaS deployment include:
- Multimedia conferencing
- Microsoft Outlook integration
- Real-time presence
- “Soft” phones (software-based telephones)
- Video calling
- Unified messaging and mobility
No Capital Expenses Needed
When business outsource their unified communications needs to a CaaS service provider, the provider supplies a complete solution that fits the company’s exact needs. Customers pay a fee (usually billed monthly) for what they use. Customers are not required to purchase equipment, so there is no capital outlay. Bundled in these types of services are ongoing maintenance and upgrade costs, which are incurred by the service provider. The use of CaaS services allows companies the ability to collaborate across any workspace. Advanced collaboration tools are now used to create high-quality, secure, adaptive work spaces throughout any organization. This allows a company’s workers, partners, vendors, and customers to communicate and collaborate more effectively. Better communication allows organizations to adapt quickly to market changes and to build competitive advantage. CaaS can also accelerate decision making within an organization. Innovative unified communications capabilities (such as presence, instant messaging, and rich media services) help ensure that information quickly reaches whoever needs it.
Flexible Capacity and Feature Set
When customers outsource communications services to a CaaS provider, they pay for the features they need when they need them. The service provider can distribute the cost services and delivery across a large customer base. As previously stated, this makes the use of shared feature functionality more economical for customers to implement. Economies of scale allow service providers enough flexibility that they are not tied to a single vendor investment. They are able to leverage best-of-breed providers such as Avaya, Cisco, Juniper, Microsoft, Nortel and ShoreTel more economically than any independent enterprise.
No Risk of Obsolescence
Rapid technology advances, predicted long ago and known as Moore’s law (Gordon E. Moore, “Cramming More Components onto Integrated Circuits,” Electronics Magazine, 4, 1965), have brought about product obsolescence in increasingly shorter periods of time. Moore’s law describes a trend he recognized that has held true since the beginning of the use of integrated circuits (ICs) in computing hardware. Since the invention of the integrated circuit in 1958, the number of transistors that can be placed inexpensively on an integrated circuit has increased exponentially, doubling approximately every two years.
Unlike IC components, the average life cycles for PBXs and key communications equipment and systems range anywhere from five to 10 years. With the constant introduction of newer models for all sorts of technology (PCs, cell phones, video software and hardware, etc.), these types of products now face much shorter life cycles, sometimes as short as a single year. CaaS vendors must absorb this burden for the user by continuously upgrading the equipment in their offerings to meet changing demands in the marketplace.
No Facilities and Engineering Costs Incurred
CaaS providers host all of the equipment needed to provide their services to their customers, virtually eliminating the need for customers to maintain data center space and facilities. There is no extra expense for the constant power consumption that such a facility would demand. Customers receive the benefit of multiple carrier-grade data centers with full redundancy—and it’s all included in the monthly payment.
Guaranteed Business Continuity
If a catastrophic event occurred at your business’s physical location, would your company disaster recovery plan allow your business to continue operating without a break? If your business experienced a serious or extended communications outage, how long could your company survive? For most businesses, the answer is “not long.” Distributing risk by using geographically dispersed data centers has become the norm today. It mitigates risk and allows companies in a location hit by a catastrophic event to recover as soon as possible. This process is implemented by CaaS providers because most companies don’t even contemplate voice continuity if catastrophe strikes.
Unlike data continuity, eliminating single points of failure for a voice network is usually cost-prohibitive because of the large scale and management complexity of the project.With a CaaS solution, multiple levels of redundancy are built into the system, with no single point of failure.
According to Wikipedia, Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) is the delivery of computer infrastructure (typically a platform virtualization environment) as a service. IaaS leverages significant technology,services, and data center investments to deliver IT as a service to customers. Unlike traditional outsourcing, which requires extensive due diligence, negotiations ad infinitum, and complex, lengthy contract vehicles, IaaS is centered around a model of service delivery that provisions a predefined, standardized infrastructure specifically optimized for the customer’s applications. Simplified statements of work and à la carte service-level choices make it easy to tailor a solution to a customer’s specific application requirements. IaaS providers manage the transition and hosting of selected applications on their infrastructure. Customers maintain ownership and management of their application(s) while off-loading hosting operations and infrastructure management to the IaaS provider. Provider-owned implementations typically include the following layered components:
- Computer hardware (typically set up as a grid for massive horizontal scalability)
- Computer network (including routers, firewalls, load balancing, etc.)
- Internet connectivity (often on OC 192 backbones.An Optical Carrier (OC) 192 transmission line is capable of transferring 9.95 gigabits of data per second. )
- Platform virtualization environment for running client-specified virtual machines
- Service-level agreements
- Utility computing billing
- Ready access to a preconfigured environment that is generally ITIL-based (Jan Van Bon, The Guide to IT Service Management, Vol. I, New York: Addison-Wesley, 2002, p. 131) (The Information Technology Infrastructure Library [ITIL] is a customized framework of best practices designed to promote quality computing services in the IT sector.)
- Use of the latest technology for infrastructure equipment
- Secured, “sand-boxed” (protected and insulated) computing platforms that are usually security monitored for breaches
- Reduced risk by having off-site resources maintained by third parties
- Ability to manage service-demand peaks and valleys
- Lower costs that allow expensing service costs instead of making capital investments
- Reduced time, cost, and complexity in adding new features or capabilities
Modern On-Demand Computing
On-demand computing is an increasingly popular enterprise model in which computing resources are made available to the user as needed. Computing resources that are maintained on a user’s site are becoming fewer and fewer, while those made available by a service provider are on the rise. The on-demand model evolved to overcome the challenge of being able to meet fluctuating resource demands efficiently. Because demand for computing resources can vary drastically from one time to another, maintaining sufficient resources to meet peak requirements can be costly. Overengineering a solution can be just as adverse as a situation where the enterprise cuts costs by maintaining only
One example we will examine is Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2). This is a web service that provides resizable computing capacity in the cloud. It is designed to make web-scale computing easier for developers and offers many advantages to customers:
- It’s web service interface allows customers to obtain and configure capacity with minimal effort.
- It provides users with complete control of their (leased) computing resources and lets them run on a proven computing environment.
- It reduces the time required to obtain and boot new server instances to minutes, allowing customers to quickly scale capacity as their computing demands dictate.
- It changes the economics of computing by allowing clients to pay only for capacity they actually use.
- It provides developers the tools needed to build failure-resilient applications and isolate themselves from common failure scenarios.
Amazon’s Elastic Cloud
Amazon EC2 presents a true virtual computing environment, allowing clients to use a web-based interface to obtain and manage services needed to launch one or more instances of a variety of operating systems (OSs). Clients can load the OS environments with their customized applications. They can manage their network’s access permissions and run as many or as few systems as needed.
In order to use Amazon EC2, clients first need to create an Amazon Machine Image (AMI). This image contains the applications, libraries, data, and associated configuration settings used in the virtual computing environment.Amazon EC2 offers the use of preconfigured images built with templates to get up and running immediately. Once users have defined and configured their AMI, they use the Amazon EC2 tools provided for storing the AMI by uploading the AMI into Amazon S3. Amazon S3 is a repository that provides safe, reliable, and fast access to a client AMI.
Before clients can use the AMI, they must use the Amazon EC2 web service to configure security and network access.
Using Amazon EC2 to Run Instances
During configuration, users choose which instance type(s) and operating system they want to use. Available instance types come in two distinct categories :
- Standard or
- High-CPU instances.
Amazon EC2 Service Characteristics
There are quite a few characteristics of the EC2 service that provide significant benefits to an enterprise. First of all, Amazon EC2 provides financial benefits. Because of Amazon’s massive scale and large customer base, it is an inexpensive alternative to many other possible solutions. The costs incurred to set up and run an operation are shared over many customers, making the overall cost to any single customer much lower than almost any other alternative. Customers pay a very low rate for the compute capacity they actually consume. Security is also provided through Amazon EC2 web service interfaces. These allow users to configure firewall settings that control network access to and between groups of instances. Amazon EC2 offers a highly reliable environment where replacement instances can be rapidly provisioned.
When one compares this solution to the significant up-front expenditures traditionally required to purchase and maintain hardware, either in-house or hosted, the decision to outsource is not hard to make. Outsourced solutions like EC2 free customers from many of the complexities of capacity planning and allow clients to move from large capital investments and fixed costs to smaller, variable, expensed costs. This approach removes the need to overbuy and overbuild capacity to handle periodic traffic spikes. The EC2 service runs within Amazon’s proven, secure, and reliable network infrastructure and data center locations.
Amazon EC2 enables users to increase or decrease capacity in a few minutes. Users can invoke a single instance, hundreds of instances, or even thousands of instances simultaneously. Of course, because this is all controlled with web service APIs, an application can automatically scale itself up or down depending on its needs.
This type of dynamic scalability is very attractive to enterprise customers because it allows them to meet their customers’ demands without having to overbuild their infrastructure.Full Control of Instances
Users have complete control of their instances. They have root access to each instance and can interact with them as one would with any machine. Instances can be rebooted remotely using web service APIs. Users also have access to console output of their instances. Once users have set up their account and uploaded their AMI to the Amazon S3 service, they just need to boot that instance. It is possible to start an AMI on any number of instances (or any type) by calling the RunInstances API that is provided by Amazon.
Configuration settings can vary widely among users. They have the choice of multiple instance types, operating systems, and software packages. Amazon EC2 allows them to select a configuration of memory, CPU, and instance storage that is optimal for their choice of operating system and application. For example, a user’s choice of operating systems may also include numerous Linux distributions, Microsoft Windows Server, and even an OpenSolaris environment, all running on virtual servers.
Integration with Other Amazon Web Services
Amazon EC2 works in conjunction with a variety of other Amazon web services. For example, Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), Amazon SimpleDB, Amazon Simple Queue Service (Amazon SQS), and Amazon CloudFront are all integrated to provide a complete solution for computing, query processing, and storage across a wide range of applications.
- Amazon S3 provides a web services interface that allows users to store and retrieve any amount of data from the Internet at any time, anywhere. It gives developers direct access to the same highly scalable, reliable, fast, inexpensive data storage infrastructure Amazon uses to run its own global network of web sites. The S3 service aims to maximize benefits of scale and to pass those benefits on to developers.
- Amazon SimpleDB is another web-based service, designed for running queries on structured data stored with the Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) in real time. This service works in conjunction with the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) to provide users the capability to store, process, and query data sets within the cloud environment. These services are designed to make web-scale computing easier and more cost-effective for developers. Traditionally, this type of functionality was provided using a clustered relational database that requires a sizable investment. Implementations of this nature brought on more complexity and often required the services of a database administer to maintain it. By comparison to traditional approaches, Amazon SimpleDB is easy to use and provides the core functionality of a database (e.g., real-time lookup and simple querying of structured data) without inheriting the operational complexity involved in traditional implementations. Amazon SimpleDB requires no schema, automatically indexes data, and provides a simple API for data storage and access. This eliminates the need for customers to perform tasks such as data modeling, index maintenance, andperformance tuning.
- Amazon Simple Queue Service (Amazon SQS) is a reliable, scalable, hosted queue for storing messages as they pass between computers. Using Amazon SQS, developers can move data between distributed components of applications that perform different tasks without losing messages or requiring 100% availability for each component. Amazon SQS works by exposing Amazon’s web-scale messaging infrastructure as a service. Any computer connected to the Internet can add or read messages without the need for having any installed software or special firewall configurations. Components of applications using Amazon SQS can run independently and do not need to be on the same network, developed with the same technologies, or running at the same time.
- Amazon CloudFront is a web service for content delivery. It integrates with other Amazon web services to distribute content to end users with low latency and high data transfer speeds. Amazon CloudFront delivers content using a global network of edge locations. Requests for objects are automatically routed to the nearest edge server, so content is delivered with the best possible performance. An edge server receives a request from the user’s computer and makes a connection to another computer called the origin server, where the application resides. When the origin server fulfills the request, it sends the application’s data back to the edge server, which, in
turn, forwards the data to the client computer that made the request.
Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS) is yet another Amazon EC2 feature that provides users powerful features to build failure-resilient applications. Amazon EBS offers persistent storage for Amazon EC2 instances. Amazon EBS volumes provide “off-instance” storage that persists independently from the life of any instance. Amazon EBS volumes are highly available, highly reliable data shares that can be attached to a running Amazon EC2 instance and are exposed to the instance as standard block devices. Amazon EBS volumes are automatically replicated on the back end. The service pro vides users with the ability to create point-in-time snapshots of their data volumes, which are stored using the Amazon S3 service. These snapshots can be used as a starting point for new Amazon EBS volumes and can protect data indefinitely.
Support for Use in Geographically Disparate Locations
Amazon EC2 provides users with the ability to place one or more instances in multiple locations. Amazon EC2 locations are composed of Regions (such as North America and Europe) and Availability Zones.
- Regions consist of one or more Availability Zones, are geographically dispersed, and are in separate geographic areas or countries.
- Availability Zones are distinct locations that are engineered to be insulated from failures in other Availability Zones and provide inexpensive, low-latency network connectivity to other Availability Zones in the same Region.
Elastic IP Addressing
Elastic IP (EIP) addresses are static IP addresses designed for dynamic cloud
computing. An Elastic IP address is associated with your account and not with a particular instance, and you control that address until you choose explicitly to release it. Unlike traditional static IP addresses, however, EIP addresses allow you to mask instance or Availability Zone failures by programmatically remapping your public IP addresses to any instance in your account. Rather than waiting on a technician to reconfigure or replace your host, or waiting for DNS to propagate to all of your customers, Amazon EC2 enables you to work around problems that occur with client instances or client software by quickly remapping their EIP address to another running instance.
A significant feature of Elastic IP addressing is that each IP address can be reassigned to a different instance when needed.Now, let’s review how the Elastic IPs work with Amazon EC2 services.
First of all, Amazon allows users to allocate up to five Elastic IP addresses per account (which is the default). Each EIP can be assigned to a single instance. When this reassignment occurs, it replaces the normal dynamic IP address used by that instance. By default, each instance starts with a dynamic IP address that is allocated upon startup. Since each instance can have only one external IP address, the instance starts out using the default dynamic IP address. If the EIP in use is assigned to a different instance, a new dynamic IP address is allocated to the vacated address of that instance. Assigning or reassigning an IP to an instance requires only a few minutes. The limitation of designating a single IP at a time is due to the way Network Address Translation (NAT) works. Each instance is mapped to an internal IP address and is also assigned an external (public) address. The public address is mapped to the internal address using Network Address Translation tables (hence, NAT). If two external IP addresses happen to be translated to the same internal IP address, all inbound traffic (in the form of data packets) would arrive without any issues. However, assigning outgoing packets to an external IP address would be very difficult because a determination of which external IP address to use could not be made. This is why implementors have built in the limitation of having only a single external IP address per instance at any one time.
Mosso, a direct competitor of Amazon’s EC2 service, is a web application hosting service and cloud platform provider that bills on a utility computing basis. Mosso was launched in February 2008 and is owned and operated by Rackspace, a web hosting provider that has been around for some time. Most new hosting platforms require custom code and architecture to make an application work. What makes Mosso different is that it has been designed to run an application with very little or no modifications. The Mosso platform is built on existing web standards and powered by proven technologies.
Customers reap the benefits of a scalable platform for free. They spend no time coding custom APIs or building data schemas. Mosso has also branched out into cloud storage and cloud infrastructure.
Mosso Cloud Servers and Files
Mosso Cloud Servers (MCS) came into being from the acquisition of a company called Slicehost by Rackspace. Slicehost was designed to enable deployment of multiple cloud servers instantly. In essence, it touts capability for the creation of advanced, high-availability architectures. In order to create a full-service offering, Rackspace also acquired another company, JungleDisk. JungleDisk was an online backup service. By integrating JungleDisk’s backup features with virtual servers that Slicehost provides, Mosso, in effect, created a new service to compete with Amazon’s EC2. Mosso claims that these “cloud sites” are the fastest way for a customer to put their site in the cloud. Cloud sites are capable of running Windows or Linux applications across banks of servers numbering in the hundreds.
Mosso’s Cloud Files provide unlimited storage for content by using a partnership formed with Limelight Networks. This partnership allows Mosso to offer its customers a content delivery network (CDN). With CDN services, servers are placed around the world and, depending on where you are located, you get served via the closest or most appropriate server. CDNs cut down on the hops back and forth to handle a request. The chief benefit of using CDN is a scalable, dynamic storage platform that offers a metered service by which customers pay only for what they use. Customers can manage files through a web-based control panel or programmatically through an API.
Integrated backups with the CDN offering implemented in the Mosso services platform began in earnest with Jungle Disk version 2.5 in early 2009. Jungle Disk 2.5 is a major upgrade, adding a number of highly requested features to its portfolio. Highlights of the new version include running as a background service. The background service will keep running even if the Jungle Disk Monitor is logged out or closed. Users do not have to be logged into the service for automatic backups to be performed. There is native file system support on both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows (Windows 2000, XP, Vista, 2003 and 2008), and Linux. A new download resume capability has been added for moving large files and performing restore operations. A time-slice restore interface was also added, allowing restoration of files from any given point-in-time where a snapshot was taken. Finally, it supports automatic updates on Windows (built-in) and Macintosh (using Sparkle).
Monitoring-as-a-Service (MaaS) is the outsourced provisioning of security, primarily on business platforms that leverage the Internet to conduct business. MaaS has become increasingly popular over the last decade. Since the advent of cloud computing, its popularity has, grown even more. Security monitoring involves protecting an enterprise or government client from cyber threats. A security team plays a crucial role in securing and maintaining the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of IT assets. However, time and resource constraints limit security operations and their effectiveness for most companies. This requires constant vigilance over the security infrastructure and critical information assets.
Many industry regulations require organizations to monitor their security environment, server logs, and other information assets to ensure the integrity of these systems. However, conducting effective security monitoring can be a daunting task because it requires advanced technology, skilled security experts, and scalable processes—none of which come cheap. MaaS security monitoring services offer real-time, 24/7 monitoring and nearly immediate incident response across a security infrastructure—they help to protect critical information assets of their customers. Prior to the advent of electronic security systems, security monitoring and response were heavily dependent on human resources and human capabilities, which also limited the accuracy and effectiveness of monitoring efforts. Over the past two decades, the adoption of information technology into facility security systems, and their ability to be connected to security operations centers (SOCs) via corporate networks, has significantly changed that picture. This means two important things:
- The total cost of ownership (TCO) for traditional SOCs is much higher than for a modern-technology SOC; and
- achieving lower security operations costs and higher security effectiveness
means that modern SOC architecture must use security and IT technology
to address security risks.
Protection Against Internal and External Threats
SOC-based security monitoring services can improve the effectiveness of a customer security infrastructure by actively analyzing logs and alerts from infrastructure devices around the clock and in real time. Monitoring teams correlate information from various security devices to provide security analysts with the data they need to eliminate false positives (A false positive is an event that is picked up by an intrusion detection system and perceived as an attack but that in reality is not) and respond to true threats against the enterprise. Having consistent access to the skills needed to maintain the level of service an organization requires for enterprise-level monitoring is a huge issue. The information security team can assess system performance on a periodically recurring basis and provide recommendations for improvements as needed. Typical services provided by many MaaS vendors are described below.
An early detection service detects and reports new security vulnerabilities shortly after they appear. Generally, the threats are correlated with third-party sources, and an alert or report is issued to customers. This report is usually sent by email to the person designated by the company. Security vulnerability reports, aside from containing a detailed description of the vulnerability and the platforms affected, also include information on the impact the exploitation of this vulnerability would have on the systems or applications previously selected by the company receiving the report. Most often, the report also indicates specific actions to be taken to minimize the effect of the vulnerability, if that is known.
Platform, Control, and Services Monitoring
Platform, control, and services monitoring is often implemented as a dashboard interface (A dashboard is a floating, semitransparent window that provides contextual access to commonly used tools in a software program) and makes it possible to know the operational status of the platform being monitored at any time. It is accessible from a web interface, making remote access possible. Each operational element that is monitored usually provides an operational status indicator, always taking into account the critical impact of each element. This service aids in determining which elements may be operating at or near capacity or beyond the limits of established parameters. By detecting and identifying such problems, preventive measures can be taken to prevent loss of service.
Intelligent Log Centralization and Analysis
Intelligent log centralization and analysis is a monitoring solution based mainly on the correlation and matching of log entries. Such analysis helps to establish a baseline of operational performance and provides an index of security threat. Alarms can be raised in the event an incident moves the established baseline parameters beyond a stipulated threshold. These types of sophisticated tools are used by a team of security experts who are responsible for incident response once such a threshold has been crossed and the threat has generated an alarm or warning picked up by security analysts monitoring the systems.
Vulnerabilities Detection and Management
Vulnerabilities detection and management enables automated verification and management of the security level of information systems. The service periodically performs a series of automated tests for the purpose of identifying system weaknesses that may be exposed over the Internet, including the possibility of unauthorized access to administrative services, the existence of services that have not been updated, the detection of vulnerabilities such as phishing, etc. The service performs periodic follow-up of tasks performed by security professionals managing information systems security and provides reports that can be used to implement a plan for continuous improvement of the system’s security level.
Continuous System Patching/Upgrade and Fortification
Security posture is enhanced with continuous system patching and upgrading of systems and application software. New patches, updates, and service packs for the equipment’s operating system are necessary to maintain adequate security levels and support new versions of installed products. Keeping abreast of all the changes to all the software and hardware requires a committed effort to stay informed and to communicate gaps in security that can appear in installed systems and applications.
Intervention, Forensics, and Help Desk Services
Quick intervention when a threat is detected is crucial to mitigating the effects of a threat. This requires security engineers with ample knowledge in the various technologies and with the ability to support applications as well as infrastructures on a 24/7 basis. MaaS platforms routinely provide this service to their customers. When a detected threat is analyzed, it often requires forensic analysis to determine what it is, how much effort it will take to fix the problem, and what effects are likely to be seen. When problems are encountered, the first thing customers tend to do is pick up the phone. Help desk services provide assistance on questions or issues about the operation of running systems. This service includes assistance in writing failure reports, managing operating problems, etc.
Delivering Business Value
Some consider balancing the overall economic impact of any build-versus-buy decision as a more significant measure than simply calculating a return on investment (ROI). The key cost categories that are most often associated with MaaS are :
- service fees for security event monitoring for all firewalls and intrusion detection devices, servers, and routers;
- internal account maintenance and administration costs; and
- preplanning and development costs.
Losses incurred from external and internal incidents are extremely significant, as evidenced by a regular stream of high-profile cases in the news. The generally accepted method of valuing the risk of losses from external and internal incidents is to :
- look at the amount of a potential loss,
- assume a frequency of loss, and
- estimate a probability for incurring the loss.
security metrics. Risk is used as a filter to capture uncertainty about varying cost and benefit estimates.
If a risk-adjusted ROI demonstrates a compelling business case, it raises confidence that the investment is likely to succeed because the risks that threaten the project have been considered and quantified.Flexibility represents an investment in additional capacity or agility today that can be turned into future business benefits at some additional cost. This provides an organization with the ability to engage in future initiatives, but not the obligation to do so. The value of flexibility is unique to each organization, and willingness to measure its value varies from company to company.
Real-Time Log Monitoring Enables Compliance
Security monitoring services can also help customers comply with industry regulations by automating the collection and reporting of specific events of interest, such as log-in failures. Regulations and industry guidelines often require log monitoring of critical servers to ensure the integrity of confidential data. MaaS providers’ security monitoring services automate this time-consuming process.
Cloud computing has evolved to include platforms for building and running custom web-based applications, a concept known as Platform-as-a-Service. PaaS is an outgrowth of the SaaS application delivery model.
The PaaS model makes all of the facilities required to support the complete life cycle of building and delivering web applications and services entirely available from the Internet, all with no software downloads or installation for developers, IT managers, or end users.Unlike the IaaS model, where developers may create a specific operating system instance with home-grown applications running, PaaS developers are concerned only with web-based development and generally do not care what operating system is used. PaaS services allow users to focus on innovation rather than complex infrastructure. Organizations can redirect a significant portion of their budgets to creating applications that provide real business value instead of worrying about all the infrastructure issues in a roll-your-own delivery model. The PaaS model is thus driving a new era of mass innovation.
Now, developers around the world can access unlimited computing power. Anyone with an Internet connection can build powerful applications and easily deploy them to users globally.The Traditional On-Premises Model
The traditional approach of building and running on-premises applications has always been complex, expensive, and risky. Building your own solution has never offered any guarantee of success. Each application was designed to meet specific business requirements. Each solution required a specific set of hardware, an operating system, a database, often a middleware package, email and web servers, etc. Once the hardware and software environment was created, a team of developers had to navigate complex programming development platforms to build their applications. Additionally, a team of network, database, and system management experts was needed to keep everything up and running. Inevitably, a business requirement would force the developers to make a change to the application. The changed application then required new test cycles before being distributed. Large companies often needed specialized facilities to house their data centers. Enormous amounts of electricity also were needed to power the servers as well as to keep the systems cool. Finally, all of this required use of fail-over sites to mirror the data center so that information could be replicated in case of a disaster. Old days, old ways—now, let’s fly into the silver lining of todays cloud.
The New Cloud Model
PaaS offers a faster, more cost-effective model for application development and delivery. PaaS provides all the infrastructure needed to run applications over the Internet. Such is the case with companies such as Amazon.com, eBay, Google, iTunes, and YouTube. The new cloud model has made it possible to deliver such new capabilities to new markets via the web browsers. PaaS is based on a metering or subscription model, so users pay only for what they use. PaaS offerings include workflow facilities for application design, application development, testing, deployment, and hosting, as well as application services such as
- virtual offices,
- team collaboration,
- database integration,
- state management,
- dashboard instrumentation, etc.
Key Characteristics of PaaS
Chief characteristics of PaaS include services to :
- host, and
The traditional model of software distribution, in which software is purchased for and installed on personal computers, is sometimes referred to as Software-as-a-Product. Software-as-a-Service is a software distribution model in which applications are hosted by a vendor or service provider and made available to customers over a network, typically the Internet. SaaS is becoming an increasingly prevalent delivery model as underlying technologies that support web services and service-oriented architecture (SOA) mature and new developmental approaches become popular. SaaS is also often associated with a pay-as-you-go subscription licensing model. Meanwhile, broadband service has become increasingly available to support user access from more areas around the world.
The huge strides made by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to increase bandwidth, and the constant introduction of ever more powerful microprocessors coupled with inexpensive data storage devices, is providing a huge platform for designing, deploying, and using software across all areas of business and personal computing. SaaS applications also must be able to interact with other data and other applications in an equally wide variety of environments and platforms. SaaS is closely related to other service delivery models we have described. IDC identifies two slightly different delivery models for SaaS.
- The hosted application management model is similar to an Application Service Provider (ASP) model. Here, an ASP hosts commercially available software for customers and delivers it over the Internet.
- The other model is a software on demand model where the provider gives customers network-based access to a single copy of an application created specifically for SaaS distribution.
SaaS is most often implemented to provide business software functionality to enterprise customers at a low cost while allowing those customers to obtain the same benefits of commercially licensed, internally operated software without the
- associated complexity of installation,
- management, support,
- licensing, and
- high initial cost.
SaaS Implementation Issues
Many types of software components and applications frameworks may be employed in the development of SaaS applications. Using new technology found in these modern components and application frameworks can drastically reduce the time to market and cost of converting a traditional on-pre-mises product into a SaaS solution. According to Microsoft, (see here) SaaS architectures can be classified into one of four maturity levels whose key attributes are ease of configuration, multitenant efficiency, and scalability. Each level is distinguished from the previous one by the addition of one of these three attributes. The levels described by Microsoft are as follows.
- SaaS Architectural Maturity Level 1—Ad-Hoc/Custom. The first level of maturity is actually no maturity at all. Each customer has a unique, customized version of the hosted application. The application runs its own instance on the host’s servers. Migrating a traditional non-networked or client-server application to this level of SaaS maturity typically requires the least development effort and reduces operating costs by consolidating server hardware and administration.
- SaaS Architectural Maturity Level 2—Configurability.The second level of SaaS maturity provides greater program flexibility through configuration metadata. At this level, many customers can use separate instances of the same application. This allows a vendor to meet the varying needs of each customer by using detailed configuration options. It also allows the vendor to ease the maintenance burden by being able to update a common code base.
- SaaS Architectural Maturity Level 3—Multitenant Efficiency. The third maturity level adds multitenancy to the second level. This results in a single program instance that has the capability to serve all of the vendor’s customers. This approach enables more efficient use of server resources without any apparent difference to the end user, but ultimately this level is limited in its ability to scale massively.
- SaaS Architectural Maturity Level 4—Scalable. At the fourth SaaS maturity level, scalability is added by using a multitiered architecture. This architecture is capable of supporting a load-balanced farm of identical application instances running on a variable number of servers, sometimes in the hundreds or even thousands. System capacity can be dynamically increased or decreased to match load demand by adding or removing servers, with no need for further alteration of application software architecture.
Key Characteristics of SaaS
Deploying applications in a service-oriented architecture is a more complex problem than is usually encountered in traditional models of software deployment. As a result, SaaS applications are generally priced based on the number of users that can have access to the service. There are often additional fees for the use of help desk services, extra bandwidth, and storage. SaaS revenue streams to the vendor are usually lower initially than traditional software license fees. However, the trade-off for lower license fees is a monthly recurring revenue stream, which is viewed by most corporate CFOs as a more predictable gauge of how the business is faring quarter to quarter. These monthly recurring charges are viewed much like maintenance fees for licensed software. The key characteristics of SaaS software are the following:
- Network-based management and access to commercially available software from central locations rather than at each customer’s site, enabling customers to access applications remotely via the Internet.
- Application delivery from a one-to-many model (single-instance, multitenant architecture), as opposed to a traditional one-to-one model.
- Centralized enhancement and patch updating that obviates any need for downloading and installing by a user. SaaS is often used in conjunction with a larger network of communications and collaboration software, sometimes as a plug-in to a PaaS architecture.
Benefits of the SaaS Model
Application deployment cycles inside companies can take years, consume assive resources, and yield unsatisfactory results. Although the initial decision to relinquish control is a difficult one, it is one that can lead to improved efficiency, lower risk, and a generous return on investment. An increasing number of companies want to use the SaaS model for corporate applications such as customer relationship management and those that fall under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act compliance umbrella (e.g., financial recording and human resources). The SaaS model helps enterprises ensure that all locations are using the correct application version and, therefore, that the format of the data being recorded and conveyed is consistent, compatible, and accurate. By placing the responsibility for an application onto the doorstep of a SaaS provider, enterprises can reduce administration and management burdens they would otherwise have for their own corporate applications. SaaS also helps to increase the availability of applications to global locations. SaaS also ensures that all application transactions are logged for compliance purposes. The benefits of SaaS to the customer are very clear:
- Streamlined administration
- Automated update and patch management services
- Data compatibility across the enterprise (all users have the same
- version of software)
- Facilitated, enterprise-wide collaboration
- Global accessibility
Building Cloud NetworksSection Overview
Now, we will describe what it takes to build a cloud network. That is how and why companies build these highly automated private cloud networks providing resources that can be managed from a single point.
- We will discuss the significant reliance of cloud computing architectures on server and storage virtualization as a layer between applications and distributed computing resources.
- You will learn the basics of how flexible cloud computing networks such as those modeled after public providers such as Google and Amazon are built, and how they interconnect with corporate IT private clouds designed as service-oriented architectures (SOAs).
- We provide an overview of how SOA is used as an intermediary step for cloud computing and the basic approach to SOA as it applies to data center design.
- We then describe the role and use of open source software in data centers. The use and importance of collaboration technologies in cloud computing architectures is also discussed.
- Last and most important, you will gain an understanding of how the engine of cloud computing will drive the future of infrastructure and operations design.
From the military use of TCP/IP in the 1960s and 1970s to the development and emergence of the browser on the Internet in the late 1980s and early 1990s, we have witnessed growth at a rate similar to what Gordon Moore had predicted in 1965:
essentially, a doubling of capability approximately every two years.We saw the emergence of network security in the mid/late 1990s (again, as a response to a need), and we saw the birth of performance and traffic optimization in the late 1990s/early 2000s, as the growth of the Internet necessitated optimization and higher-performance solutions.
According to Greg Ness, the result has been “a renaissance of sorts in the network hardware industry, as enterprises installed successive foundations of specialized gear dedicated to the secure and efficient transport of an ever increasing population of packets, protocols and services.”Welcome to the world that has been called Infrastructure1.0 (I-1.0).
The evolution of the basic entity we call I-1.0 is precisely the niche area that made successful companies such as Cisco, F5 Networks, Juniper, and Riverbed. I-1.0 established and maintained routes of connectivity between a globally scaled user base constantly deploying increasingly powerful and ever more capable network devices. I-1.0’s impact on productivity and commerce have been as important to civilization as the development of trans-oceanic shipping, paved roads, railway systems, electricity, and air travel. I-1.0 has created and shifted wealth and accelerated technological advancement on a huge number of fronts in countless fields of endeavor. There simply has been no historical precedent to match the impact that I-1.0 has had on our world. However, at this point in its evolution, the greatest threat to the I-1.0 world is the advent of even greater factors of change and complexity as technology continues to evolve. What once was an almost exclusive domain of firmware and hardware has now evolved to require much more intelligent and sophisticated software necessary for interfacing with, administering, configuring, and managing that hardware. By providing such sophisticated interfaces to firmware/hardware-configured devices, it marked the beginning of the emergence of virtualization. When companies such as VMware, Microsoft, and Citrix announced plans to move their offerings into mainstream production data centers such as Exodus Communications, the turning point for I-1.0 became even more evident. The I-1.0 infrastructure world was on its way into the cold, dark halls of history.
As the chasm between I-1.0 and the increasingly sophisticated software packages widened, it became evident that the software could ultimately drive the emergence of a more dynamic and resilient network. This network became even more empowered by the addition of application-layer innovations and the integration of static infrastructure with enhanced management and connectivity intelligence. The evolving network systems had become more dynamic and created new problems that software was unprepared to contend with. This gave rise to a new area, virtualization security (VirtSec, which once again, arose out of necessity), and marked the beginning of an even greater realization that the static infrastructure built over the previous quarter of a century was not adequate for supporting dynamic systems or for avoiding the impact that malevolent actions would have on such dynamic networking paradigms. The recognition that new solutions had to be developed became apparent when the first virus hit back in the 1970s (The Creeper virus was first detected on ARPANET, the forerunner of the Internet, in the early 1970s). No one realized at the time that this single problem would create an entire industry. As we have discussed, the driving force for all such technological innovation has been need. For the cloud, the biggest evolutionary jump began with managed service providers (MSPs) and their motivation to satisfy and retain customers paying monthly recurring fees.
The Evolution from the MSP Model to Cloud Computing and Software-as-a-Service
If you think about how cloud computing really evolved, it won’t take long to realize that the first iteration of cloud computing can probably be traced back to the days of frame relay networks. Organizations with frame relay were essentially singular clouds that were interconnected to other frame relay-connected organizations using a carrier/provider to transport data communications between the two entities. Everyone within the frame network sharing a common Private Virtual Connection (PVC) could share their data with everyone else on the same PVC. To go outside their cloud and connect to another cloud, users had to rely on the I-1.0 infrastructure’s routers and switches along the way to connect the dots between the clouds. The endpoint for this route between the clouds and the I-1.0 pathway was a demarcation point between the cloud and the provider’s customer. Where the dots ended between the clouds (i.e., the endpoints) was where access was controlled by I-1.0 devices such as gateways, proxies, and firewalls on the customer’s premises.
From customers’ perspective, this endpoint was known as the main point of entry (MPOE) and marked their authorized pathway into their internal networking infrastructure. By having applications use specific protocols to transport data (e.g., Simple Mail Transfer Protocol [SMTP] for sending mail or File Transfer Protocol [FTP] for moving files from one location to another), applications behind the MPOE could accept or reject traffic passing over the network and allow email and file transfer to occur with little to no impedance from the network infrastructure or their administrators. Specialized applications (developed out of necessity to satisfy specific business needs) often required a client/server implementation using specific portals created through the firewall to allow their traffic protocols to proceed unhindered and often required special administrative setup before they could work properly. While some of this may still hold, that was, for the most part, how it was done “old school.” Things have changed considerably since that model was considered state of the art. However state of the art it was, it was difficult to manage and expensive. Because organizations did not want to deal with the complexities of managing I-1.0 infrastructure, a cottage industry was born to do just that.
From Single-Purpose Architectures to Multipurpose Architectures
In the early days of MSPs, the providers would actually go onto customer sites and perform their services on customer-owned premises. Over time, these MSPs specialized in implementation of infrastructure and quickly figured out ways to build out data centers and sell those capabilities off in small chunks commonly known as monthly recurring services, in addition to the basic fees charged for ping, power, and pipe (PPP).
- Ping refers to the ability to have a live Internet connection,
- power is obvious enough, and
- pipe refers to the amount of data throughput that a customer is willing to pay for.
- remote network,
- desktop and security monitoring,
- incident response,
- patch management, and
- remote data backup, as well as
- technical support.
Data Center Virtualization
From the evolutionary growth of the MSP field, coupled with the leaps made in Internet and networking technology over the past 10 years, we have come to a point where infrastructure has become almost secondary to the services offered on such infrastructure. By allowing the infrastructure to be virtualized and shared across many customers, the providers have changed their business model to provide remotely managed services at lower costs, making it attractive to their customers. These X-as-a-Service models (XaaS) are continually growing and evolving, as we are currently standing at the forefront of a new era of computing service driven by a huge surge in demand by both enterprises and individuals. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS, and other [X]aaS offerings such as IaaS, MaaS, and PaaS) can be seen as a subset or segment of the cloud computing market that is growing all the time.
One IDC report indicated that cloud computing spending will increase from $16 billion in 2008 to $42 billion in 2012.Is there little wonder there is incentive for consumers to pursue cloud computing and SaaS?
Typically, cloud computing has been viewed as a broad array of Internet Protocol (IP) services (generally using an application called a Web browser as the main interface) in order to allow users to obtain a specific set of functional capabilities on a “pay for use” basis. Previously, obtaining such services required tremendous hardware/software investments and professional skills that were required in hosting environments such as Exodus Communications, Cable & Wireless, SAVVIS, and Digital Island. From an enterprise customer perspective, the biggest advantages of cloud computing and SaaS over the traditional hosting environment are that cloud computing is an I-1.0 response to a business need to find a reasonable substitute for using expensive out-sourced data centers. Also, SaaS is a “pay as you go” model that evolved as an alternative to using classical (more expensive) software licensing solutions.
The cloud evolved from the roots of managed service provider environments and data centers and is a critical element of next-generation data centers when compared to the MSPs they evolved from. Today, customers no longer care where the data is physically stored or where servers are physically located, as they will only use and pay for them when they need them. What drives customer decision making today is lower cost, higher performance and productivity, and currency of solutions.
The Cloud Data Center
Unlike the MSP or hosting model, the cloud can offer customers the flexibility to specify the exact amount of computing power, data, or applications they need to satisfy their business requirements. Because customers don’t need to invest capital to have these services, what we have today is a reliable and cost-effective alternative to what has been available in the past. Today, customers are able to connect to the cloud without installing software or buying specific hardware. A big reason for their desire to use the cloud is the availability of collaborative services. Collaboration is the opiate of the masses in “cloud land.”
Collaboration is a very natural experience that humans have been engaging in for thousands of years. Up until the 1970s, most businesses embraced collaboration through a management style called management by walking around. This was facilitated by corporate styles in which people tended to be working together in the same place. In the 1960s and 1970s the head office/ branch office model emerged as companies grew in size. These introduced time and distance into business processes, but the productivity gap was minimized because branch offices tended to be autonomous and people could still easily connect with one another.
Since then, the workforce has become increasingly distributed. This has accelerated as globalization has taken hold. In the last 30 years, tools such as voice mail and email have tried to close the gap by facilitating communications in real and non-real (sometimes, even unreal) time. However, an increasing remote workforce coupled with the variable nature of a team (including contractors, suppliers, and customers) has meant that the productivity gap is also quickly growing. Distance and time slow down decision making and have the adverse effect of impeding innovation. Existing technology models are failing to keep up. Part of this failure has been introduced by the rapidly evolving workspace.
When we talk about the workspace, we talk about the wide variety of tools and systems that people need to do their jobs. It is the range of devices from mobile phones to IP phones, laptop computers, and even job-specific tools such as inventory scanners or process controllers. It is about the operating systems that power those tools. And it’s about accessibility, as work-spaces constantly change—from the home to the car, from the car to the office or to the factory floor, even to the hotel room.
Intelligent networks are used to unify not only the elements of the workspace, but also to unify workspaces among groups of users.
- People need to connect, communicate, and collaborate to ensure that everyone can be included in decision making.
- Only architectures that embrace the ever-changing workspace can enable collaboration, and
- only the network can ensure that the collaboration experience is universally available to all.
While IBM, Microsoft, and Apple were making computing power available to all, it wasn’t until the emergence of the IP network that people could connect easily from one machine and person to another. This network gave rise to both the Internet and to IP telephony. IP telephony dramatically changed the economics of communications, making corporate globalization financially feasible. IP telephony gave rise to unified communications and the ability to blend together many forms of communications including text, video, and voice. And while unified communications have enabled business transformation, it is collaboration that will close the productivity gap by overcoming the barriers of distance and time, speeding up business, and accelerating innovations by enabling the inclusion of people, anywhere.
Today’s leading-edge collaboration portfolio solutions, FaceBook and Google, capture the best of two very different worlds, offering speed, ubiquity, and flexibility. Cloud-based solutions offer widely adopted standards used by legions of developers. It is where innovation happens rapidly and on a large scale. Most applications are offered as subscription services, available on demand and hosted in distant data centers in “the cloud.” The enterprise world offers certainty of availability, security, reliability, and manageability. The enterprise experience is all about consistency. It also carries with it the legacy of proprietary toolsets and slower innovation cycles. It is a world that, for reasons of compliance, is usually hosted on-premises under tight controls and purchased through a capital budget. A portfolio of products can be built to enable the best of two worlds,
- the speed and flexibility of the consumer world and
- the certainty of the enterprise world.
- First, customers need to develop a corporate culture that is inclusive and fosters collaboration.
- Second, business processes need to be adapted and modified to relax command and control and embrace boards and councils to set business priorities and make decisions.
- Finally, customers need to leverage technologies that can help overcome the barriers of distance and time and changing workforces.
- unified communications that enable people to communicate,
- video that adds context to communications, and
- Web 2.0 applications that deliver an open model to unify communications capabilities with existing infrastructure and business applications.
Video adds context to communication so that people can communicate more clearly and more quickly. The intelligent network assures that video can be avail-
able and useful from mobile devices and at the desktop.
Web 2.0 applications provide rich collaboration applications to enable the rapid
development and deployment of third-party solutions that integrate network services, communications, and video capabilities with business applications and infrastructure.
Customers should be able to choose to deploy applications depending on their business need rather than because of a technological limitation. Increasingly, customers can deploy applications on demand or on-premises. Partners also manage customer-provided equipment as well as hosted systems. With the intelligent network as the platform, customers can also choose to deploy some applications on demand, with others on-premises, and be assured that they will interoperate.
Several evolutionary forces are leading companies and organizations to collaborate. The global nature of the workforce and business opportunities has created global projects with teams that are increasingly decentralized. Knowledge workers, vendors, and clients are increasingly global in nature. The global scope of business has resulted in global competition, a need for innovation, and a demand for greatly shortened development cycles on a scale unknown to previous generations. Competition is driving innovation cycles faster than ever to maximize time to market and achieve cost savings through economies of scale. This demand for a greatly reduced innovation cycle has also driven the need for industry-wide initiatives and multiparty global collaboration. Perhaps John Chambers, CEO and chairman of Cisco Systems, put it best in a 2007 blog post:
Collaboration solutions can help you address your business imperatives. Collaboration can save you money to invest in the future by allowing you to intelligently reduce costs to fund investments for improvement and focus on profitability and capital efficiency without reducing the bottom line. It can also help you unlock employee potential by providing them a vehicle by which they can work harder, smarter, and faster, ultimately doing more with less by leveraging their collaborative network. With it you can drive true customer intimacy by allowing your customers to be involved in your decision process and truly embrace your ideas, personalize and customize your solutions to match customer needs, empower your customers to get answers quickly and easily, all without dedicating more resources. Even further, it can give you the opportunity to be much closer to key customers to ensure that they are getting the best service possible.Collaboration is the future. It is about what we can do together. And collaboration within and between firms worldwide is accelerating. It is enabled by technology and a change in behavior. Global, cross-functional teams create a virtual boundary-free workspace, collaborating across time zones to capture new opportunities created with customers and suppliers around the world. Investments in unified communications help people work together more efficiently. In particular, collaborative, information search and communications technologies fuel productivity by giving employees ready access to relevant information. Companies are flatter and more decentralized.
Collaboration gives you the ability to distance yourself from competitors because you now have a cost-effective, efficient, and timely way to make your partners an integral part of your business processes; make better use of your ecosystem to drive deeper and faster innovation and productivity; and collaborate with partners to generate a higher quality and quantity of leads. Ultimately, what all of these things point to is a transition to a borderless enterprise where your business is inclusive of your entire ecosystem, so it is no longer constrained by distance, time, or other inefficiencies of business processes. Currently there is a major inflection point that is changing the way we work, the way our employees work, the way our partners work, and the way our customers work. There is a tremendous opportunity for businesses to move with unprecedented speed and alter the economics of their market. Depending on a number of variables in the industry you’re in, and how big your organization is, there are trends that are affecting businesses in any combination of the points made above.
Collaboration isn’t just about being able to communicate better. It is ultimately about enabling multiple organizations and individuals working together to achieve a common goal. It depends heavily on effective communication, the wisdom of crowds, the open exchange and analysis of ideas, and the execution of those ideas. In a business context, execution means business processes, and the better you are able to collaborate on those processes, the better you will be able to generate stronger business results and break away from your competitors.
These trends are creating some pretty heavy demands on businesses and organizations. From stock prices to job uncertainty to supplier viability, the global economic environment is raising both concerns and opportunities for businesses today. Stricken by the crisis on Wall Street, executives are doing everything they can to keep stock prices up. They are worried about keeping their people employed, happy and motivated because they cannot afford a drop in productivity, nor can they afford to lose their best people to competitors. They are thinking about new ways to create customer loyalty and customer satisfaction. They are also hungry to find ways to do more with less. How can they deliver the same or a better level of quality to their customers with potentially fewer resources, and at a lower cost?
Collaboration is also about opportunity. Businesses are looking for new and innovative ways to work with their partners and supply chains, deal with globalization, enter new markets, enhance products and services, unlock new business models. At the end of the day, whether they are in “survival mode,” “opportunistic mode,” or both, businesses want to act on what’s happening out there—and they want to act fast in order to break away from their competitors.
So what choices do current IT departments have when it comes to enabling collaboration in their company and with their partners and customers? They want to serve the needs of their constituencies, but they typically find themselves regularly saying “no.” They have a responsibility to the organization to maintain the integrity of the network, and to keep their focus on things like compliance, backup and disaster recovery strategies, security, intellectual property protection, quality of service, and scalability.
They face questions from users such as “Why am I limited to 80 MB storage on the company email system that I rely on to do business when I can get gigabytes of free email and voicemail storage from Google or Yahoo?” While Internet applications are updated on three- to six-month innovation cycles, enterprise software is updated at a much slower pace. Today it’s virtually impossible to imagine what your workers might need three to five years from now. Look at how much the world has changed in the last five years. A few years ago, Google was “just a search engine,” and we were not all sharing videos on YouTube, or updating our profiles on Facebook or MySpace. But you can’t just have your users bringing their own solutions into the organization, because they may not meet your standards for security, compliance, and other IT requirements. As today’s college students join the workforce, the disparity and the expectation for better answers grows even more pronounced.
ResourcesCloud Computing Implementation, Management, and Security by John W. Rittinghouse & James F. Ransome (2010) ISBN: 978-1-4398-0680-7