Sharing resources through hardwired connections is quickly being replaced with a delivery method that provides infrastructure, services, platforms, and applications on demand, across networks.
Clouds are IT environments that abstract, pool, and share scalable resources across a network. Clouds are usually created to enable cloud computing, which is the act of running workloads within that system. Neither clouds nor cloud computing are technologies unto themselves.
- Clouds are environments—places where applications run.
- Cloud computing is an act—the function of running a workload in a cloud.
- Technologies are things—software and hardware used to build and use clouds.
Public clouds, private clouds, hybrid clouds, and multiclouds
The differences between public clouds, private clouds, hybrid clouds, and multiclouds were once easily defined by location and ownership. But it’s just not that simple anymore. So while we’ve tried our best to define the main cloud types, we do so with an eye to the future—knowing the explanations of yesterday may not indicate how clouds will be used tomorrow.
A cloud environment created from resources not owned by the end user that can be redistributed to other tenants.
Loosely defined as a cloud environment solely dedicated to the end user, usually within the user’s firewall and sometimes on premise.
Multiple cloud environments with some degree of workload portability, orchestration, and management among them.
An IT system that includes more than 1 cloud—public or private—that may or may not be networked together.
There’s no single, perfect cloud architecture or infrastructure. All clouds require operating systems—like Linux®—but the cloud infrastructure can include a variety of bare-metal, virtualization, or container software that abstract, pool, and share scalable resources across a network. This is why clouds are best defined by what they do rather than what they’re made of. You’ve created a cloud if you’ve set up an IT system that:
- Can be accessed by other computers through a network.
- Contains a repository of IT resources.
- Can be provisioned and scaled quickly.
Creating a hybrid cloud requires some degree of workload portability, orchestration, and management. Application programming interfaces (APIs) and virtual private networks (VPNs) have been the standard ways to create these connections. Many of the major cloud providers even give customers a preconfigured VPN as part of their subscription packages:
- Google Cloud offers Dedicated Interconnect.
- Amazon Web Services offers Direct Connect.
- Microsoft Azure offers ExpressRoute.
- OpenStack provides the OpenStack Public Cloud Passport.
Another way of creating a hybrid cloud is to simply run the same operating system in every environment and build container-based, cloud-native apps that are managed by a universal orchestration engine like Kubernetes. The operating system abstracts all the hardware while the management platform abstracts all the apps. So you deploy almost any app in almost any environment without retooling the app, retraining people, splitting management, or sacrificing security.
Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) delivers cloud resources—compute, networking, and cloud storage—to users via a network connection. The rise of big data, mobile apps, and the Internet of Things (IoT) have led to a rise in IaaS data storage providers like DropBox.
Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) delivers an application software platform—and all the IT infrastructure required to run it—to users via a network connection. This is typically how cloud platforms are delivered.
Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) delivers an entire working app—as well as the platform it runs on and all its IT infrastructure—to users via a network connection. This is typically how cloud apps are delivered.
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Some of the ways you can set up a cloud
The ideal platform for your business to build a private cloud or for service providers to construct a public cloud.
This private cloud infrastructure comes with a container orchestration platform to help implement containers across the entire IT stack.