A massive network of servers or even individual PCs interconnected in a grid is the key of cloud computing. These computers run in parallel, combining the resources of each to generate super computing power. One of the primary benefits of cloud computing is a vast amount of computing power achieved from relatively low cost PCs and servers.
The collection of computers and servers that is publicly accessible via the Internet creates the cloud. This hardware is typically owned and operated by a third party on a consolidated basis in one or more data center locations. The machines can run any combination of operating systems. Cloud architecture is deceptively simple, although it does require some intelligent management to connect all those computers together and assign task processing to multitudes of users.
One of the primary uses of cloud computing is for data storage in which data is stored on multiple third party servers rather than on the dedicated servers used in traditional networked data storage. When storing data, the user sees a virtual server and it appears as if the data is stored in a particular place with a specific name. The place does not exist actually and it is just a nickname that is used to reference the virtual space from the cloud. The users data could be stored on any one or more of the computers used to create the cloud, as the cloud dynamically manage available storage space. But even though the location is virtual, the user sees a static location for the data and can actually manages the storage space as if it resides in his own PC. In addition, multiple copies of the same data are stored in the cloud servers. The duplication of the data are kept continually; so the cloud continues to function as normal even if one or more servers go offline or even crashes. Cloud computing solutions are made up of several elements, the clients, the data center, and the distributed servers, as illustrated by Figure 1.1.
- The client’s component
Is the first of the cloud components, and it could be described as the devices that the end users interact with to manage their information on the cloud. Clients are the exact same things that they are in the traditional computing. Clients fall into three main categories:
- Mobile devices which include PDAs or smart phones, like a Blackberry or an iPhone,
- Thin clients which are computers that do not have internal storage, but rather let the server do all the work then just display the information, and
- Thick clients which are regular computers using a Web browser like Firefox or Internet Explorer to connect to the cloud.
- The data center component
These are the collection of web hosting servers where the application to which the user subscribe is hosted. It could be a large room in the basement of a building or a room full of servers on the other side of the world that the user can access via the Internet. A growing trend in the IT world is software that can be installed allowing multiple instances of virtual servers to be used called virtualization servers.
- Distributed Servers
These servers don’t have to be housed in the same location, these servers are hosted in geographically different locations, and the cloud subscriber does even see that. These servers act as if they are single group right next to each other. This gives the service provider more flexibility in options and security. For instance, Amazon has their cloud solution in servers all over the world. If something were to happen at one site, causing a failure, the service would still be accessed through another site. Also, if the cloud needs more hardware, they need not throw more servers in the safe room they can add them at another site and simply make it part of the cloud.
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