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What is cloud architecture?

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Cloud architecture is how individual technologies are integrated to create clouds—IT environments that abstract, pool, and share scalable resources across a network. Cloud architecture is how all the components and capabilities necessary to build a cloud are connected in order to deliver an online platform on which applications can run.

Imagine you're building a house: Cloud infrastructure incorporates all the materials, while cloud architecture is the blueprint.

Clouds are considered Platforms-as-a-Service (PaaS), since a cloud provider supplies users with both the platform and the underlying IT infrastructure. Architecting a cloud platform requires more than just abstracting a computer’s capabilities from its hardware components, which is how providers create and offer cloud infrastructure to users. It also requires additional levels of development to incorporate containerization, orchestration, application programming interfaces (APIs), routing, security, management, and automation software. User experience design (UX) is also important in order to create a navigable online experience.

While there are variations of cloud architecture based on what you’re trying to do, most clouds require hardware, middleware, management, and automation software. Most clouds also use virtualization to abstract the hardware resources into centrally managed data lakes, while some clouds—known as bare-metal clouds—connect clients directly to hardware.

Here’s a practical example: OpenStack® is a popular open source cloud project that combines a number of other open source projects to build and manage clouds using virtualized resources. Red Hat stabilizes the open source project and releases it as Red Hat® OpenStack Platform. The product's twelfth version (released at the end of 2017) bundles the following cloud services, which—together—are representative of a basic cloud architecure. 

If you want to find or become one of the most qualified open source cloud architects, consider a Red Hat Certified Architect (RHCA). Becoming an RHCA requires Red Hat Certified System Administrator and Red Hat Certified Engineer certifications, and almost half of the nearly 20 exams that qualify towards an RHCA cover cloud topics.

  • Public cloud architecture: A cloud environment created from resources not owned by the end user that can be redistributed to other tenants.

  • Private cloud architecture: Loosely defined as a cloud environment solely dedicated to the end user, usually within the user’s firewall and sometimes on premise.

  • Hybrid cloud architecture: Multiple cloud environments with some degree of workload portability, orchestration, and management among them.

  • Multicloud architecture: An IT system that includes more than 1 cloud—public or private—that may or may not be networked together.

Because when you build your cloud architecture with Red Hat products, you get interoperability across any environment: public cloud, private cloud, hybrid cloud, and multicloud, as well as bare-metal and virtual environments. Connect our open source products using open application programming interfaces and open standards to build a cloud architecture that fosters open organization practices like agile integration, DevOps, and CI/CD.

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