I just completed the requirements and earned my CloudU Certificate.
CloudU is a freely available, online learning resource sponsored by Rackspace.
Rackspace is a premier cloud hosting provider headquartered in San Antonio, Texas.
The CloudU curriculum is vendor agnostic and covered the fundamental concepts of cloud computing.
So what are some of the key takeaways that I learned?
- the cloud is a huge paradigm that is gaining momentum and projected for large growth going forward
- virtualization technologies (ex: VMware) enabled the development of the cloud
- Amazon was the leader of this new cloud movement but Amazon now has serious competiton from the likes of Microsoft, Google and Rackspace to name a few heavy hitters
- Rackspace is utilizing OpenStack which is an open architecture that is gaining tremendous traction with support from other major industry leaders including Dell and IBM.
- Amazon (AWS) or Amazon Web Services), Google (app engine) and Microsoft (Azure) have their own proprietary cloud architecture technologies and are not part of the open cloud movement.
There are three primary cloud configurations that include:
- public cloud – the most flexible – your server(s) will share physical hardware with other companies or individuals in this configuration in a cloud provider’s data center.
- private cloud – your virtual server machines will reside on dedicated server hardware – either your hardware located on premises or cloud provider hardware located in your cloud provider data center location.
- hybrid cloud – this configuration is perhaps the most interesting – a company could have a private cloud for sensitive data or to conform with regulations – and the company could also have a public cloud for less sensitive applications and data or for testing and scalability for irregular demands. For example: a company could run their primary line of business (lob) application in a private cloud while messaging is hosted in a public cloud. An example Microsoft configuration could include Office365 where all messaging is hosted with Exchange online. This could be great for a company that has intermittent large demands for messaging – an example could be a company that manages large events where they need to increase email accounts on a temporary basis for managing volunteers that work on short term event projects.
- Hybrid cloud offers the best of both worlds by allowing companies to keep their in-house data centers in a private cloud and connect or combine them with a public cloud to gain associated benefits such as testing or capacity scaling.
The cloud is compelling for many reasons, including:
- reduced upfront capitol expenditures for server capacity that could turn out to be underutilized – instead the cloud offers server resources on an “as needed” and “pay as you go” basis – similar to leasing instead of buying
- greater agility as virtualized servers in the cloud are much easier to scale up or down or move for example – especially with an open architecture that is designed for portability – hence the growing interest in OpenStack.
- even the smallest startup can gain instant access to servers on demand – hosted in a professionally managed data center. If the startup catches on it is easy to instantly scale up to handle any increased demand on servers. If the demand drops off servers in the cloud can be quickly shut down.
Resistance to the cloud could include:
- resistance to change
- traditional IT support providers and in-house IT staff may be concerned of losing their jobs
Security concerns that could include:
- not knowing or being able to control where data is located
- governmental regulations that might mandate how information is stored or transmitted (ex: hippa for health care)
These security concerns can be addressed by a competent cloud provider or consultant.
There are three primary “flavors” or types of cloud offerings:
- SAAS or software as a service – one of the first examples of SAAS was the Salesforce CRM.
- PAAS or platform as a service – google app engine comes to mind as an example of PAAS. PAAS could be ideal for a software developer that does not want to have to manage or spend time configuring servers, for example. Heroku could be another example of a PAAS.
- IAAS or infrastructure as a service – the early leader in this category could be Amazon Web Services or AWS – Amazon was way out front with starting this current cloud paradigm – with AWS a small developer can instantiate sever instances in a scalable, secure and affordable manner. Everything is customizable and configurable including geo-redundant mirror backups for survivability, load balancing and disaster recovery.
Then there are cloud providers like Rackspace that can do everything for you and host your servers in their cloud and do all the configuring for you – including ongoing management. This could be ideal and especially compelling for a small or medium sized business or SMB. Especially SMB’s that do not have in-house IT pros on staff.
Larger business entities or organizations may want to host their own cloud infrastructure.
This may be where OpenStack comes into play.
OpenStack is an open source project that is gaining tremendous moment currently as mentioned previously.
I am just now learning about OpenStack and I will add to this post and or post separately once I am further up the OpenStack learning curve.