Tag Archives: saas

Saturday data center tidbits.

I’ve just been reading a Richard Stallman rant about the evils of SaaS (cloud computing software as a service). I get it, all service providers are evil, this is just another scheme to steal users data like spyware, don’t trust any data to any server that’s not under your own personal lock and key. Of course, using any other server is fine because you’re not “doing your own computing” on them. And of course “cloud computing” is just an evil buzzword to blind everyone from the conspiracy.

As much as I respect a lot of the things Richard does, I think he needs his meds adjusted on this one.

Email or call me or visit the SwiftWater Telecom web site for cloud computing services (conspiracy free!).


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The virtual data center: Understanding cloud computing.

I’ve been reading a lot of attempts lately to provide a real definition of just what cloud computing really is. I’m going to take a stab at providing the definitive answer to that question.

A cloud computing system consists of a collection of physical servers and storage that are closely tied together to allow resources to be efficiently shared and the entire system to be managed as one entity. A cloud computing system runs virtual machines which appear just like physical machines, except they don’t require an entire dedicated physical server to themselves.

This design allows a cloud computing system to be extraordinarily flexible and efficient. New virtual machines can be added quickly and easily when demand increases, under utilized virtual machines can be discarded, and much more work is accomplished for the same energy consumption, allowing for lower costs.

Cloud computing services come in 3 basic formats. In IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service), the customer receives access to their own virtual machine. This virtual machine may run Windows, Linux, or any number of other operating systems and appears indistinguishable from a traditional dedicated server. SwiftWater Telecom’s Resilient Cloud Service currently is an example of IaaS.

PaaS (Platform as a Service) combines the virtual machine with a set of development tools and an interface that allows for the creation of cloud powered web applications. Google AppEngine is an example of PaaS.

SaaS (Software as a Service) provides cloud powered applications, typically accessible with only a web browser, with no access to a virtual machine at all. Google Apps is an example of SaaS.

All 3 service models allow the customer to avoid having to buy, operate, and support their own physical servers, converting a variable capital expense into a fixed operational expense.

There are a number of different pricing plans for cloud computing services, notably fixed and pay as you use. In pay as you use, the customer is charged for the resources their service actually consumes. This is a good model for very intermittent usage with high load spikes. In fixed, the customer pays a set price for a certain set of resources. This model is good for more consistent usage and is also easier to budget for, since the total cost is known in advance.

And that’s cloud computing, in a nutshell.


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Cloud computing made ridiculous.

Tonight I was reading about cloud computing motivating green data center behavior. Cloud computing is many things but there’s a bunch of things here that it isn’t.

The first is the idea that the purpose of cloud computing is to make web application development so simple “any bum can do it”. Certain types of cloud deployments can make web development substantially easier and faster, but no cloud is going to be a substitute for having to learn how to do some sort of programming. I guess the complaint that it still requires “too much expertise” is raised by people who want results without putting ANY effort at all into. These people are certainly going to be disappointed.

So, how does the cloud make web development and deployment easier and faster? It does that by providing the infrastructure faster and cheaper (IaaS), and potentially a more user friendly system (PaaS). Now you don’t have to buy, configure, support, and connect a physical server to develop on any more, just hop on the cloud with a virtual server and you’re off and running.

The idea that “highly paid web experts” are the only ones using the cloud is ridiculous. As for “highly paid providers”, it’s certainly FAR less expensive than rolling your own and anyone who thinks it’s too expensive is free to set up their own cloud and compete (whoops, I forgot, these are the same people complaining about web app development being too complicated) and PaaS completely removes the need for “highly paid system admins”.

It may very well take a little effort to cost compare between dedicated servers and PaaS or SaaS, but it’s certainly simple to compare on IaaS. On the SwiftWater Telecom cloud, you get a full LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) virtual server, indistinguishable from a dedicated server running the same standard web hosting package. Compare our cloud powered virtual server directly to any dedicated or co-located server and you’ll see the bottom line benefit immediately. Does this mean that all workloads are good candidates for cloud based virtual servers? No, but many of them are and the benefit is undeniable.

Separating cloud computing from the ridiculous, one myth at a time.

Cloud computing services.
Powerful cloud powered computing bundles.


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