Up in the Cloud

By Prakash Advani | Published on 02 Jan 2012
Up in the Cloud

Cloud computing is the new buzz and everyone is talking about it. Is this for real or just another technology fad that will soon fade away? Well cloud computing is for real, it has been around for a while and is here to stay. We've been using cloud computing since the early days of the Internet, however now it has been given a formal name. What's changing rapidly now is that more and more applications, softwares and services are being made available on the cloud.

Cloud computing simply means the applications that you use are now stored in and served from the cloud; that means,instead of them running on your computer they are running on a computer (or server) on the Internet. You access these applications using your browser. Simple examples of this are Web based email, online office such as Google Docs and cloud storage services such as Ubuntu One.

As more and more applications move to the cloud, the less you you will need to invest in high end computers, or have to upgrade your hardware. In fact, all you would need at your end is a computer capable of running a browser and of course Internet connectivity. You can access cloud applications via mobile phones, tablets, Internet enabled smart TVs, thin clients, netbooks, laptops, desktops and more. The applications will run on the Internet and if any application needs faster hardware, the computers will be upgraded in the server side on the Internet without you even knowing about it.

There are various type of cloud computing terminologies used. These are also called SPI Model: SaaS, PaaS and IaaS.

SaaS or Software as a Service is where software or applications are delivered online – just as described above. You don't need to worry about the underlying technology; instead you simply go to a website and use the applications directly. Good examples are Google Docs, online email, like Yahoo! Mail Salesforce.com. As a developer if you want to develop applications for the cloud, you need to program for the Web preferably using HTML 5.

PaaS or Platform as a Service is where can access an operating system platform online, so you can upload your applications and run them from there. You need to know coding appropriate to each specific API, or application programming interface. However, you don't have to bother about the underlying OS or hardware. Good examples are Google AppEngine and VMWare Cloud Foundry. For developers the PaaS provides a few selected languages such as Java. You need to pick those languages, study their API and write your applications accordingly.

IaaS or Infrastructure as a Service is give you the full infrastructure in the cloud, you then install your OS of choice and install your applications or other services. You don't have to bother about maintaining the physical hardware. A good example is Amazon EC2.

The cloud is usually on the public Internet. However companies that do not want to put their confidential data online, but want to take advantage of the cloud, can build their own private cloud. This can easily be done using Ubuntu Cloud, which has all the applications required to build your own cloud. Ubuntu cloud allows you to setup your own IaaS environment. If you are technically inclined you can test drive this by Ubuntu Cloud Live. Just download it burn on a USB drive, boot from it and you can have your own cloud setup in 10 Min. Download from here: http://cloud.ubuntu.com/2011/10/ubuntu-cloud-live-11-10-is-available/


The Author is Regional Manager -Asia Pacific, Canonical. The views expressed here are his own. He blogs regularly at http://www.cityblogger.com and can be reached on prakash at canonical.com.

Prakash Advani



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