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A to Z of the cloud: Part one

Cloud computing is becoming ubiquitous within businesses, with those not having made the move now asking “when?”, not “if?” In fact, according to a report conducted earlier this year by the Cloud Industry Forum (opens in new tab), 63 per cent of UK businesses plan to move their entire IT infrastructure to the cloud in the near future and over 90 per cent of companies are using cloud services in some form.

Indeed, it is an industry set to be worth $208.6 billion by the end of 2016, according to Gartner (opens in new tab). However, as with all technological advancements, there comes a wide range of terms regarding the cloud, which are not always so self-explanatory for those who do not work with the cloud on a daily basis. This three-part series will run through the alphabet, from A to Z, covering some of the most important cloud computing terms to help you to distinguish your hypervisors from your multi-clouds.

This instalment takes you from A to I; AWS to IaaS. Our next instalment will feature terms from J to R, while the final instalment will cover S to Z. So, without further ado, here is the first set of cloud terms, starting with:

A is for AWS & Azure

Both AWS (Amazon Web Services) and (Microsoft) Azure provide a wide range of reliable and scalable cloud computing services, and are the two largest public cloud providers in the industry by market share with around 31 per cent and 11 per cent of the market respectively. There are a handful of serious challengers, such as Google and IBM, and a long trail of cloud providers chasing the remaining share. AWS and Azure are far ahead of their rivals and rake in a combined revenue of $14 billion.

Amazon’s EC2 (Elastic Cloud Computing) was the first widely accessible cloud computing infrastructure service when it launched in 2006. It was also recently placed as a leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Infrastructure-as-a-Service, with both the most complete vision and the highest ability to execute, and it is deemed to have the most capabilities for cloud solutions.

B is for Burst

Cloud bursting refers to a particular deployment model for applications, in which an application will run in a private cloud environment, but will “burst” into a public cloud environment at peak times when computing usage spikes beyond a predefined level. It is a form of hybrid cloud deployment that enables organisations to only pay for the increased service capacity when it is needed, making it cheaper overall.

C is for Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is the delivery of Computing Resource-as-a-Service over a network, usually the Internet, but sometimes internally using a private cloud. It is a type of computing that relies on sharing a pool of physical or virtual resources rather than deployment of local hardware and software. Companies offering these computing services are called cloud providers and typically charge for cloud computing services based on usage, similar to how you’re billed for gas or electricity at home.

So cloud computing is charged as an operating expense and not a capital, up-front expense. A key aspect of cloud computing is its elastic capabilities, where many cloud providers allow you to both scale up and scale down the computing resources and you are only charged for what you use.

D is for DevOps

DevOps is a literal combination of “Development” and “Operations” and also encompasses quality assurance testing. It emphasises collaboration within different IT groups, as well as advocating the automation of software delivery. 

The aim is to establish an environment where building, testing, and releasing software can happen rapidly, frequently, and more reliably. It shifts the focus to delivering business value through feature velocity - the ability to deliver functional software quickly – and is often a cultural change as well as an operational one.

E is for Elastic computing

Elastic computing describes the ability to provide processing (also known as ‘compute’), memory and storage resources on demand in a manner that can expand and contract. It means that the resources are treated like an elastic band, which can stretch to add additional compute, memory, or storage as well as contract to reduce resources. This method of computing is more cost effective for businesses, as you only pay for the servers that are provisioned.

F is for Fog computing

Fog computing, which is also known as fog networking, is a decentralised infrastructure where computing resources and services are distributed at the most logical place between the data source and the cloud. This means that processing happens at the edge of a network, as well as centrally. The fact that the cloud is pushed towards the data source (i.e. “the ground”) gives arise to the term “fog” (a cloud on the ground).

Often carried out for security and compliance reasons, fog computing recommends that the cloud should be brought closer to the data sources it is using. This type of cloud computing is more popular with the Internet of Things because of the large quantities of data that IoT sensors create. It eliminates the inefficiency of having to transmit the sensor data backwards and forwards, which can impact performance.

G is for Governance

Cloud governance is a term which applies to the specific policies and principles of different cloud computing services. The purpose of cloud governance is to ensure that applications and data in the cloud are secure, wherever they are located. Cloud governance should be viewed as an on-going process for businesses, where they will update their compliance on a regular basis, rather than as a one-off product to be purchased.

H is for Hypervisor

A hypervisor, which can also be known as a virtual machine manager, is a program which has a single host server with multiple guest operating systems using it. Simply put, hypervisors create and run virtual machines.  There are two different types of hypervisors, which fall into the aptly-named categories of Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 hypervisors are normally considered to be bare-metal hypervisors, and are hardware virtualisation engines. Type 2 hypervisors are different in the fact that they operate as an application on top of an existing operating system.

So, simply put, Type 1 runs on the hardware and hosts guest operating systems, while Type 2 runs within an operating system host, and hosts guest operating systems inside of it.

I is for IaaS

Infrastructure-as-a-Service, otherwise known as IaaS, delivers computer-based infrastructure as a paid-for service. As opposed to other as-a-Service types such as Software-as-a-Service and Platform-as-a-Service, IaaS gives you a virtual self-contained server on which you can install and run your own software and applications which you can control using a dashboard.

Tony Connor, Head of EMEA Marketing at Datapipe (opens in new tab)

Image Credit: Everything Possible / Shutterstock

Tony Connor is head of marketing in the EMEA region at next generation MSP, Datapipe.