Introduction to Cloud Computing
The cloud is a networked environment (Intranet/Internet) that provides services (endpoints) and resources to consumers. Users don't care what makes up the cloud, they just care that they can access their services and resources. The cloud abstracts all the hardware, OSs, networking, storage and computing power inside of the cloud. A public cloud's resources are accessed over the Internet. A private cloud's resources are accessed through an Intranet. Software as a Service (SAAS) provides access to services and resources inside of the cloud. SAAS is where middleware and Java play a key role in the cloud. Utility computing is when someone starts paying for the access to the resources and services in the cloud.
Virtualization is the engine that drives Cloud Computing
The cloud requires the aggregation of resources to achieve high levels of scalability. Successful management of the cloud's resources requires the ability to abstract the computing resources in the cloud infrastructure. Behind all the abstraction, someone needs to be able to make large grids of computers, networks, storage, etc all work together to provide the cloud services and resources. This is where virtualization comes into play. Virtualization is a key component to make the cloud work. Key benefits of virtualization include:
- Significantly reducing Infrastructure Management costs.
- Flexibility to quickly deploy new virtual machines, computing resources, networking infrastructure and storage.
- Agility to manage the cloud resources easily.
- Maintaining access to cloud resources with High Availability, Fault Tolerance, Load Balancing, Disaster/Recovery.
- Providing proper levels of security and compliance for the cloud environment.
Gartner predicts there will be a larger investment in private cloud (company, enterprise level) than public cloud (Internet level) solutions. Industry analysts are predicting that by 2016 the Cloud Computing industry will be spending 16 - 20 billion dollars a year. Cloud Computing and Virtualization are the fastest growing segments of the IT industry. This is why you see big companies like Microsoft, Oracle, IBM, etc. all looking at making a major investment in Virtualization technologies and products. Right now VMware has a large advantage over everyone. Right now VMware is a key leader in this space and has a very clear vision of the cloud and what it takes to deliver cloud infrastructures successfully. I'd definitely recommend reading some of the white papers on their website.