Cloud 101 -- What is the Cloud?
By Brace Rennels, Technical Marketing Manager and CPBP, Double-Take Software
Editor's note: What are the best practices in moving data to the clouds?
If you listen to the IBM advertisements on television, the company describes
itself as a workload optimized service management platform -- but what does
that mean? Basically, in the most simplistic form, the cloud is a virtual data
center. That's it!
People often ask why the cloud is so popular. So you don't get the deer in
the headlights look trying to explain what an optimized workload is, I usually
go with a data center. However, there are unique characteristics that allow
it to be referred to as the Cloud. First, it is usually fully virtualized and
accessed via the internet (or cloud), whether it is a virtual private or public
network. The areas where companies are rapidly adopting cloud computing is software
as a service, Disaster Recovery and storage backup.
Most, if not all, fortune 500 companies have had "the Cloud" for years. Basically,
they created their own virtual data center for disaster recovery or for centralized
server management and remote or branch offices access applications, services
and/or infrastructure via a secure internet connection. These are considered
virtual private data centers versus what the Cloud is typically referred to
as a virtual public data center, like Amazon, where services, platforms or infrastructure
is accessed via the internet.
Google, the "Software as a Service" (SaaS) model for years, is used as a way
to access legal briefings and decisions for research. Lexus Nexus is probably
the most notable provider of these types of services to thousands of law firms.
The reason is that Lexus Nexus has made the investment to provide all of this
legal information so the company doesn't have to. Essentially, it becomes a
commodity type of service that you lease for as long as you need that information
Another benefit of the Cloud is its ability to be utilized as a disaster recovery
facility or alternate facility to enhance backup and recovery requirements.
For smaller businesses the cost to create a data center is usually too expensive
to justify. Many companies don't have the business continuity they would like.
With the introduction of cloud providers offering infrastructure services all
of the sudden, it is more cost effective for SMB's to lease infrastructure for
disaster recovery than it would be to gather all the funds required to make
that purchase at once.
Another benefit to leasing the infrastructure is that the company doesn't
need to acquire resources or staff just to manage the additional datacenter,
and you only need to pay for what you use. The pay as you go model may be one
of the largest advantages of the cloud. Rather than purchasing a data center
of equipment and just waiting for it to fill up, you only use what you need
and it expands dynamically so when you need more storage, processing or memory,
additional resources can be added on the fly in real-time.
Only paying for the storage you need is what makes cloud providers like the
Amazon EC2 and others an attractive backup and recovery option. Cloud computing
can now provide a more readily available copy of data that can be recovered
anytime, anywhere and greatly reduce the recovery time objectives of using a
tape archive solution. So, company's today are using cloud computing to enhance
their existing backup solutions to not only reduce the amount of money spent
on the tape medium, storage services and shipping but also reduce the amount
of time it would take to recover.
Tape has been around for a long time, so I don't see cloud computing replacing
tape backup anytime soon. However, tape will definitely be used to improve those
business critical servers that need an improved recovery time. Tape can still
be used as an offsite archive solution to meet industry compliance regulations
where documents and data need to be available for upwards of 7 years before
they can be destroyed.
So, what is the Cloud? It is a data center but the real difference is how that
data center is built, managed and utilized by companies. Cloud computing provides
infrastructure, software and platforms as a purchasable service that would not
be an option for most companies. So the cloud provides opportunities for companies
to rapidly spin up data center resources without the need for knowledge experts,
software administrators, and hardware startup costs.
So the three functions that cloud computing can provide is to serve as a disaster
recovery facility, a platform and infrastructure for enhanced backup procedures
as well as the ability to lease software as needed, versus trying to disrupt
the company organization to implement yourself. This is only the tip of the
iceberg regarding cloud computing possibilities and over the next few years
this industry will grow and is forecasted by many to be a 25 billion dollar
About the Author
Brace Rennels is a certified business continuity professional and project manager at Double-Take Software and has been involved with over 1600 Double-Take Software disaster recovery installations. Rennels is responsible for managing the message of the professional services organization, the partner channel/OEM related services activities, and the implementation of new service programs to drive Double-Take Sales.More by Brace Rennels
About Double-Take Software
Double-Take Software is exhibiting at Storage Expo, 14th – 15th October, Olympia, London www.storage-expo.com. The UK’s definitive event for data storage, information and content management provides the opportunity to compare the most comprehensive range of solutions and services from leading suppliers with a free and unrivaled education program.