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WHT Members Say: What Is Cloud Computing?

Posted by hosttycoon On May - 5 - 2009

cloud-computing“I think a good way to start off this forum section is to determine what cloud computing means to everyone, I know there are a lot of different views and it should be interesting to see them.”, says HP-Kevin in a thread titled “What is Cloud computing?” in WHT. Members named “Karbon” adds that he is “curious as to what is it as well” and ads the he never have heard of it. “Is it where you host in the clouds?” writes the WHT member and adds “joke, don’t yell at me”. This are only one of many examples that show that the average web user is still unfamiliar with the concept of cloud computing and cloud hosting in particular. Wikipedia offers an explanation of the term “Cloud Computing”. Web Hosting Talk also has a detailed explanation in its Wiki section. So we will not go over the “Cloud”. Most important is to see what people think of the Cloud computing.

“Interested as well in knowing what cloud hosting is and does”, this is another Cloud newbie post in WHT. As always happens the first one who know more on the topic emerges, this time on the 4th place. His nickname in WHT is Plutomic-Andrew and he offers an explanation about “Cloud”.

Cloud is…

“Cloud hosting, in one form or another, is the clustering of multiple physical hardware nodes together to act as a single server, with nearly unlimited resources since it can be continually added to seamlessly without adversely affecting the applications running on the cloud currently” says Plutomic-Andrew. He adds that such a single cluster or grid is then broken down into individual VEs or Virtual Environments.

“Each VE is a self-contained LAMP stack running on top of any OS the customer would like while having access to the computing power of multiple processor and multiple GBs of RAM to perform its computing tasks. In most cases depending on the architecture of the cloud, each VE can expand dynamically to withstand the influx of heavy traffic or in other cases storage demands. These demands are typically caused by a site being dugg, slashdotted or in one way or another gaining more exposure than they would under typical daily circumstances”, writes Plutomic-Andrew and becomes the first to know something about Cloud computing. However it is very tech explanation and most forums users probably lost themselves on the 3rd row.

A proof of this is the Karbons remark – “Ah, I feel stupid now. I should of known what it was. It’s basically a server cluster”.

“Its really exciting I cant wait to try it out for my new project, but I do have some doughts. He adds that on his course he was taught that “the cloud will be when all applications and data are stored on the web and we simply connect using “terminal Pcs” in effcet moving backwards”.

… a Buzzword

“To some ‘the cloud’ is the answer to everything – to others just an overhyped buzzword… We (UK2group) takes it very seriously, and I see this taking over most of the dedicated server market within the coming 5 years. It is very far from mature though – one of those things everyone talks about but really only a handfull actually provide. Buzzword or not, it is bound to change some of the mechanics of the hosting industry”, says WHT member with nickname “eming” and becomes the first self promoter in the thread who underlines that his company takes Cloud computing seriously. He how ever provides a URL ( to some ‘the cloud’ is the answer to everything – to others just an overhyped buzzword… We (UK2group) takes it very seriously, and I see this taking over most of the dedicated server market within the coming 5 years. It is very far from mature though – one of those things everyone talks about but really only a handfull actually provide. Buzzword or not, it is bound to change some of the mechanics of the hosting industry. EDIT: take a moment and read this article published today from Wall Street Journal, http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123802623665542725.html – it will help give a better understanding… ) to Wall Street Journal’s article that should clear the air around the clouds, according to him.

“Thats a great explaination”, posts WHT member named himself “you86” and ask the questions “Will all these hardware nodes in queue? What will happen if one/two will broken down? everything will stop working?”.

It is just marketing…?

HP-Kevin who has opened the thread about Cloud computing responds to Andrew’s Cloud hosting explanation and asks him “Can you name some/any company out there that can provide you a VE with a “self-contained LAMP stack” with nearly unlimited scalability? Or even scalability beyond the resources of a single physical hardware node?”.

“What you have explained is what I find many people expect from “cloud hosting”, but I disagree, and I am not sure the functionality you have described yet exists. So far I am with Tim on this, and its just marketing”, posts HP-Kevin.

An example of a Cloud

Plutomic-Andrew responds to HP-Kevin by saying that “Most all cloud computing environments will allow you to use more than one physical piece or hardware for computing power”. He gives an example with AppLogic of 3tera., and says to “you86” that depending on the architecture of the Cloud the services can be re-provisioned and started on other physical equipment in the cloud.

“True, but AFAIK even applogic does not allow you to scale one wm across more than one physical hypervisor”, responds user “eming” – Ditlev Bredahl, CEO, uk2Group.com.

“There was a good article in the Financial Times last Thursday about cloud computing… it’s definitely picking up momentum”, posts “dazmanultra”. “Jonrdouglas” says that hybrid clouds let anyone to run “what is generally code that runs only on Windows, in the same directory as your files you generally run on Linx What”.

According to “HostedFTP” it is a huge market and the expectations are to be a $100 billion industry within the next 10 years. “Amazon AWS S3 amd Ec2 is the major player at this time. Many companies are already moving into the cloud as it is very inexpensive to host”, says HostedFTP.

“I am involved in a SaaS based software project that my partners and I are hoping will grow exponentially for us over the next few years. We are working on some contracts now and I really think that it will be in my best benefit to launch our software on a cloud so that we can quickly and easily grow as needed”, says VertexBilly and ads that he has just contacted 3tera to get their sales info and learn more about what they can do “to help us launch this”. “I am not sure if we are ready for this infrastructure and cost yet (as we would do our own cloud in house) but I really do think that for companies that are working on a similar SaaS type business model as us that a cloud based infrastructure is probably the way to go and not just hype”, explains the WHTmember.

… Waste of time + Extra Costs

Nathaniel which forum name is “logikstudios” posts that his personal thoughts on the cloud are potentially a waste of time on a major skill. “Look at it like this. Look at all the current providers out there. They are WAY! to expensive for 95% of the users and you can’t really benefit the use of them. I was looking at moving a project to the cloud and thought to myself, to get the same type of power we require now was going to cost us £250+ extra a month(approx 2.5 x the amount). I can see websites/companys possibly having there own mini clouds setup, but interms of of processing power and storage (nothing more really than a super server with a DAS), its going to have to come down alot! before it really kicks off i think personally, maybe around VPS pricing”, says Nathaniel.

“I would class cloud computing as basically making your documents available to you anywehere, microsoft is really trying to get the lead on this by launching live services like Azure and Live Skydrive, profile and whatever else”, responds “FortressDewey” and adds that if he needs to view a file he just emails it to himself”.

A “Web Hosting Talk” forum member with nickname “hwmcneill” says in his first post that he have just come across the thread which he found interesting and he would like to comment on some points made.

“AmirKhan” raises the point that it is a platform for the “no software” approach. This, as far I am concerned is correct. In a sense the two processes have occurred in parallel thus creating the virtual cloud concept. “You86” asked about what happens when a node breaks down and I might add runs into capacity problems. These instances are handled by normal overload chaining to other live servers. In the case of breakdown, that is the autochaining is incapacitated, the use of virtual client technology (VCT) can have the browser detect non-response and switch to a predetermined priority list of servers. Thus even if the “central server” fails the VCT component keeps operations running with a gap in operations equivalent to less than 1 sec (depending upopn sys bandwidth).

“HostedFTP” mentions that clouds are expensive to host. Well each node or server can be hosted like any other. The configuration is in the software so a cloud can be made up of servers located anywhere in the world. Sharing such resources and making use of online applications rather than multiple redundancy sw at the client end saves an enormous amount of money in outlays. And any updates at the nodes affect all users making “roll outs” extremely low cost. Logikstudios raises the point of high costs but I am not sure what these refer to so I cant comment. Certainly higher users make the whole thing cheap and so the cost issue can be an issue of not having enough users to justify the initial outlays. “DHD-Chris” mentions clouds as being a facilitation of global access to docs etc. Yes, this is also part of the support functions i.e. data processing, transmission and storage with web document rendering being essentially a dialogue in a browser combining storage access and transmission”,posts hwmcneill. He adds that this is just his initial response to thread and he is going to rustle up some notes to provide a follow up on this. He also says that he will provide some examples of his own experience in Cloud computing field.

… Concept Still Unclear?

“The concept is still somehow unclear for me”, writes “HSNM”. “What I can see is a matter of distributed computing that handles the problem of connecting different pieces together to let a single service run in an abstract way”, say the forum member and explains that Google calendar can be an example which uses cloud computing. According to him “the Internet is a big cloud by itself”.

… Its About Distributing Servers And Loads Between Many Computers

“I guess one can look at it from several angles. For me its about distributing servers and loads between many computers and in some cases geographic locations. It adds ability to dynamically or at least quickly scale out. Allowing to handle spikes in server loads as well as adds a layer of redundancy”, comments “dariusf“. He adds that the problem he sees with it is two folds, one is the cost for larger requirements.

“It does cost more then getting part of a rack and installing a bunch of servers. It removes the layer of server management and support and this could be a very large cost of the operation when you have to maintain multiple servers, clusters, load balancers and other networking hardware. So perhaps the overall cost will be lower”, explains the WHT member. The biggest question he has at this point and he just didn’t have much time to investigate is the question of user session replication on the application layer between the virtual nodes.

“With at least ColdFusion one has the option to store user session specific information on the database and in this case every node in the cloud would be able to hit that database cloud and the session for the user. Its slow and not as elegant as doing something like Jini and buddy under Java, which ColdFusion being in essence java and running under the JVM can use. Doing session replication between the nodes with something like Jini would be the best solution but how does that work and what about dynamic new nodes added in the cloud?”

“Another question is the database replication. Does it get moved in to the cloud and then replicated between the nodes or does it stay out of the cloud and gets only hit by the cloud?”

“If it stays in the cloud, would one set a fixed number of nodes and then replicate between them or is there a way to dynamically replicate as nodes are created or removed based on the loads? Any ideas out there? Anyone has any experience with this”, asks the WHT member?

… Grid Computing Has Been A Hot Topic Some 5+ Years Ago

“So what is the ‘cloud’? What is the difference between a ‘cloud’ and the ‘grid’ and a ‘server farm’?”, ask “andria”. “Grid computing has been a hot topic some 5+ years ago. In my understanding, Grid consists of server farms located on different locations. Connected with each other, acting as one”, writes the WHT user.

“I can recall that around 2000 there have been big headlines each time when someone would set a new record for the biggest server farm. Most of them were set up in scientific field. With grid computing or a server farm, you throw a task into it and it gets distributed across the place. So basically, to me, it looks like a cloud hosting company is doing nothing different. They are running a number of virtualization tasks on a grid computer (or on a single server farm)”, posts “andria”.

According to this WHT member each virtualization task gets certain resources allocated and that’s it. “I assume for hosting company this solution is somewhat easier to handle, since all resources are seen as one and the whole load is also put together. There are no boundaries of a single server. On the customer side only those who need clusters would profit from this. A VPS customer could not care less if he is getting 1/20th of a single server or 1/20.000th of 1.000 servers. So, to me, the ‘cloud’ seems to be either a single server farm or a grid network of server farms”, concludes “andria” and asks “Or am I wrong? So why call it a cloud?”.

The Dominator – Cloud hosting exists!

The last word (May 5th, 11.45 am EST) has the WHT member with name “The Dominator”. “Cloud computing exists, but most end user customers don’t get it – coders have no idea how to code to use extra nodes on the cloud, and cloud computing is so vaguely defined – it depends who you talk to – we sell lots of dedicated servers direct through discussions with customers, and customers ask me is my server cloud computing?”, explains “The Dominator”.

He adds that in the last 2 years most cloud (grid) computing data centers had major outages. The user says that the “future is coming” and he expects computers to connect to some form of Clouds, but data centers to “take a bit longer to transition to grid models everywhere”.

Still Unclear?

If I had to make myself clear of what Cloud computing was, from the above conversation, I would loose myself. So folks, the best you can do, if you need to know what really cloud means is to spend a few hours reading in Wikipedia, WHT Wiki and other library resources. Then stop and think about what you have read. And if you still do not understand the “Cloud”, stop thinking about it and just use it.

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