A to Z of the Cloud: Part 2

Welcome to the second instalment of our A to Z series, explaining the wide world of cloud computing.

Welcome to the second instalment of our A to Z series, explaining the wide range of terms that you are likely to encounter when talking about cloud computing.

In the first part of the series, we took a look at the letters A to I, describing what is meant by words and terms such as “DevOps”, “Hypervisor” and “Fog computing”. This second part of the series continues on from there, looking at cloud terms beginning with letters from J to R, while our final instalment will include the letters S to Z.

Do you know the difference between public and private cloud? Do you understand what a managed service provider does? These terms, among others, will be explained in this article. So let’s continue where we left off with:

J is for Java

Java is probably the most popular programming language in computing today. The first public implementation was released by Sun Microsystems in 1995 and it promised that you could “Write Once, Run Anywhere”. This was a compelling idea at the time because many other languages had to be recompiled for different types of computers. 

ava is different because it compiles into bytecodes – as opposed to machine code - that can run on any computer architecture using a “Java Virtual Machine”, or JVM for short. This portability, along with its scalability, performance and reliability set Java up for the next 21 years. It is often used for web applications and, by extension, for applications hosted in the cloud.

K is for Key Management

Cryptographic keys are used to encrypt data so it cannot be read by third parties. It is especially important in cloud services to ensure cloud data is properly encrypted. Key management refers to the overall management of cryptographic keys in any cryptosystem. Replacement of keys, generation, exchange, and storage, are just some of the many things that key management deals with. Keeping keys secure is vitally important.

Cryptographic protocol design is also an important function of key management. Key management can often involve various types of key, such as symmetric and asymmetric keys. The latter often being a public-key encryption system, where anyone can encrypt a message with a public key but the asymmetric private key is the only one that can decrypt the message - useful for secure communications.

L is for Latency

Latency is the delay between a system’s action and the response to that action. In networking terms, it is the time taken for a data packet to be sent from one point to another. In simple terms, it is used to describe the responsiveness of an internet connection - the lower the latency, the better.

Low latency is particularly important in cloud computing because high latency can be detrimental to the responsiveness of actions and commands given to a virtual machine, which can lead to a poor user experience. Low latency provides a better quality of service for applications on the cloud. One way to lower latency is to host your services geographically nearby to minimise the hops between nodes.

M is for Managed Service Provider

A Managed Service Provider (MSP) is an IT provider that offers a set of cloud computing services to its client. MSPs are relied upon as trusted partners to the businesses that use them, looking after the infrastructure, so that the client does not need to worry about maintaining them, and providing support where necessary.

Services offered by MSPs can include the migration of legacy infrastructure to the cloud, the addition of security and compliance protocols to a cloud solution, and providing disaster recovery capabilities. Many MSPs will act as a consultancy to their client. They will assist their client by offering vendor-neutral advice and guidance on the best solution for a business, as well as providing the infrastructure services that are required.

N is for Nodes

A node is a flexible term that, at its core, means a network connection point. It can either be a redistribution point or an end point, and the term comes from the Latin nodus or ‘knot’. In cloud computing, a node is often analogous to a server, either virtual or physical. It can be used in the context of control, as in a control node used to control other servers. It can also be used to refer to type of services, such as a compute node where business logic is executed and a storage node, were the file system resides.

O is for Operating System

An operating system is the low-level software that supports a computer’s basic functions. It is the most important programme that runs on a computer, as the computer needs it to manage its memory and processes. It acts as the intermediary between programs and the computer hardware. Operating systems have evolved over the last decade and can now run virtual machines through hypervisors. In this scenario, guest operating systems run in the hypervisors, which provides the basis for cloud computing.

P is for Private/Public Cloud

Public cloud is the most recognisable model of cloud computing for businesses, and is sometimes referred to as simply “the cloud”. It is made available by a cloud service provider, where the cloud services requested are provided in a virtualised environment and are accessible over a public network, like the Internet.

Benefits to cloud computing include instant provisioning, scalability, virtualised resources and the ability to expand a server base quickly. Central to the concept of the public cloud is that services are provided to multiple clients using the same shared infrastructure. In contrast, with a private cloud model, the cloud (the pool of resource) is only accessible by a single organisation providing that organisation with greater control and privacy.

Businesses often request both public and private cloud technologies integrated together, in order to get the best cloud solution for them. This combination of public and private cloud is called a hybrid cloud.

Q is for Quality Assurance

Quality Assurance, otherwise known as “QA” or “QA testing”, is a term that is associated with software testing. QA will ensure that the code, written by developers in a development environment, will function as expected without introducing bugs or inconsistencies when it is released to the production environment.

The cloud provides the perfect environment for quality assurance because it can offer more opportunities for testing. For example, software can be stress tested and QA will ensure that more resources are allocated to the software, so that it can effectively respond to the increased load. In addition, a business can deliver applications on a more reliable and frequent basis through automating their QA testing in the cloud, making their operations more efficient overall.

R is for Redundancy

Redundancy in computing is the duplication of critical components or functions to increase reliability in case one of these components fails. It means that you have backup servers and multiple copies of data and applications with the facility to fail over to the backup systems.

In cloud computing, redundancy is built into every level of a cloud solution. By virtualising hardware, it is relatively easy to fail over to a backup as the hardware is standardised.

Tony Connor, Head of EMEA Marketing at Datapipe

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