PRE-PACKAGED CLOUD

One of the big decisions about going to the Cloud is whether to use an in-house or an external system. Those who prefer the in-house approach have the unenviable task of setting up a system themselves, or hiring some external group to set it up. In the past this has proved time consuming and entailed many detailed decisions. Inevitably somebody had to think of a better way.
The Hewlett –Packard Helion Rack is designed help a company set up a private, in-house cloud much faster. HP creates each system and sets it up at the business site. As these systems use the same Openstack for running infrastructure services as HP’s own public cloud, so the package has the benefit of both experience and years of practical application.
Mid-sized businesses looking to deploy their first OpenStack cloud system will probably be the main target for these rack systems; sizable departments within larger corporations may also be interested. The HP Helion rack system is well suited for developing new cloud type applications, and is designed for computationally heavy workloads.
One of the selling points of the Cloud has always been the convenience and ease-of-use (along with expandability and cost). But this ease-of-use is at the user’s end, not the party creating the system. Like complex search algorithms or guidelines for creating web content any creator of a computer system is forced to go to great lengths to create something that works to the user’s benefit; a complex and flexible system that interfaces easily with the complexities of the human mind and its requirements. A pre-packaged Cloud-in-a-rack may well pass this convenience and ease-of-use to the purchasing company. The hard work is already done by the designers, so the new owner need only specify how they want the system customised to their needs.
Individuals familiar with HP’s Public cloud systems may have an advantage here as this quick to install Private system runs in a near identical way. Of course it will be extremely secure, and customisable.
The HP Helion rack will be 42 standard rack units in size (a little under 188 cm) and is designed to easily accommodate added storage facilities and other external devices. It should be available in May 2015, with prices varying with the system configuration. The lowest price system should comfortably support 400 virtual machines.

CLOUD FAQ’S

Cloud – “A model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (for example, networks, servers, storage, applications and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction”
US National Institute of Standards and Technology

Cloud is not so much a technology as an approach to using technology. It provides massive IT related facilities through the internet, allowing customers to expand and reduce their storage space, data requirements and services as needed.
Public Cloud is a service that anybody (with internet and means of payment) can access. They are a shared infrastructure on a pay-as-you-use system.
Private Cloud uses a similar delivery mode to public cloud, but only for a select group of users, like the staff of a company. It can be considered much safer as the private cloud is behind a firewall and the companies own security systems.
Hybrid cloud (public and private that are linked) also exist, as do community clouds, a system shared by several group but not the public in general.

What are Cloud prices like?
You can store data on the Cloud with fast access time for about 25 cents per gigabyte for one month, or as an archived file for about 1 cent per month, archived files have slower access, but sometime only by a few seconds. You pay to upload and download information to those files.
Services on the Cloud can cost anything from 10 cents per hour to more than a dollar per hour.
How is software licencing affected by the Cloud?
This is a good question, whose answer is still in the process of being worked out. Previously, before the Cloud, a customer paid retail price for the software, even if they hardly used its potential capabilities. Cloud is potentially more flexible, and should allow individual and companies to only pay for services as they are used, and pay less if they only use a small part of the service’s potential. At the moment this is still being worked out. The software and its licencing are less flexible than what the cloud is capable of.
What about downtime and access of data?
Many cloud servers guarantee between 99.9% and 99.95% uptime, calculated over a year. This means no more than 4 to 8 hours of downtime (offline with no data access) in a 12 month period. But fine print in contracts sometimes means more downtime can occur that the provider will not take responsibility for. Really, there are no complete guarantees. But as even non-Cloud computers and other internet services occasionally don’t work, so we cannot expect perfection.
Will my application perform differently on Cloud?
Quite probably, but it depends on which cloud provider you have. Find one that works for you and runs services that are appropriate for your company. You may have to ask a lot of questions here and do a lot of reading, but there are appropriate providers out there for you somewhere. It helps to think of the situation as offering a lot of different options, and to think of cloud as upgrading your business operation. As such, you don’t have to follow the same procedure as you had before; look for a Cloud provider that offers a new and improved situation.
If you have Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) or Platform as a Service (PaaS) you may have a lot flexibility over what applications you wish to run. However, the method of charging for this may vary. With Software as a Service (SaaS) you might only pay for software/applications as they are used; with PaaS you probably have to pay the full software price upfront.

SOFTWARE DEFINED STORAGE

Software defined storage is a programmatic approach to setting up and using storage. It allows you to use storage and expand by rational prediction of your needs. It is not a product, it is an approach made possible through connected hardware and software products. The details are not particularity important, but the connections between parts are quite loose.
Storage space is an issue in some ways. But as storage space becomes increasingly cheaper people tend to think the problems will solve themselves. There is some truth to this. Data does increase exponentially, but hardware manufacturers know this and are quick to produce larger capacity storage media because they know there is a growing market, and a profitable one at that. It is to their credit that the prices decrease as the capacity and performances increase.
If we’re on the Cloud we tend to think this is a pseudo problem; cloud is supposed to expand as the requirements increase. Well yes, if it has the software defined storage approach. Your data will accumulate, and if it’s anything like the past the increase will not be linear. We use to deal with megabytes. Now we buy Terabytes drives. The software defined storage approach should track this so we need never trash old customer files and always keep every email we ever received. We can be sure this will not level out in the future, but continue to expand even if your company stays at its present size forever (we actually hope your company does improve). The elastic approach of software defined storage predicts how this will expand so we need only buy the storage space we need. Yes, cloud can expand to accommodate our needs, that’s part of the appeal. But we need to know what are needs are, that’s part of the problem it wishes to address.

REAL WORLD CONNECTIONS

Arthur C. Clarke’s novel The City and the Stars voiced two different possibilities for a future society. One was a city run by computers, totally detached from the physical outside world, forming its own microcosm. The other was a society living in harmony with the physical world, but augmenting it with technology. A generation ago there was great fear that our future would be a sterile world run by computers, like the detached microcosm city, and we would lose something human. But modern developments, concerns for the environment, human engineering …etc. have tended to lean towards the other option – humans developing technology that takes its cues from the real world.
Interfacing technology via the cloud is an example of this. Car manufacture Volvo envisions a system where information from a car gets distributed via a connection on the cloud. If your car encounters slippery road conditions, traffic, or anything else of concern to motorists the car’s cloud connection passes the information to others nearby who might be using the same roads.
This is not really so much a new concept as the development of an old one. We’ve had traffic reports for years, and we have apps on smartphones where individuals can look up road and weather information. But this approach is more integrated; the information goes straight to the car and driver who doesn’t have to use the phone while driving, or listen to a possibly relevant radio report. It means navigation systems on cars can give the most economical route to a destination at a particular point in time rather than a route that would be best under ideal conditions. This information to the car is current, integrated with the car’s systems, and has far greater detail than before.
Or course it is only as good as the people who use it. If there are only a few cars and drivers with the system then they have to hope some other driver has already gone the route ahead of them if they are to gather any useful information. Whereas if the majority of people have the cloud accessing systems there will always be relevant information as long as there is some traffic on the road. Any driver can benefit from the experience of another driver, even if the experience was only moments before.
Undoubtedly this could have an impact on insurance. Hopefully it will prevent a few incidents, but even if it doesn’t stop all problems it might help if we know that the drivers were at least complying with up-to-date information and following a recommended path.
Technology with this approach adapts to the world, which is also a world that we have adapted to us, having built cities, road and other technology. Information that these systems convey is far more extensive than before, but it is never complete or final, as the outside world is always changing. Any concern we once had of being isolated in our own stagnant world now seem unfounded. In an infinitely complex and changing reality there will always be constant change in how we adapt to it.