Hosting in the cloud without all the hype part 1: Intro for beginners.

The IT industry is one that is built on hype, the IT industry is always pushing people to the latest and greatest technology and gadgets. The assumption is that the new is always better. This is generally true, but not accurate, yes it is better but for what and at what?

Cloud hosting is touted today as the best place to put your applications and data. The cloud is seemingly the most reliable hosting platform and the easiest. And they are trying to tell you that you should put all your applications there.

That is not true.

The cloud is not a replacement for your current IT infrastructure as much as the ipad is not a replacement for your desktop or notebook.

Lets start at the beginning. The cloud is based on virtualization,  where one high power server can emulate multiple smaller servers. Virtualization is not a new technology, it has been around for a long time, it is only “recently” that CPUs from Intel and AMD have built virtualization features inside the CPU to make it faster. See with virtualization the server is not acting and here I really do mean acting in the Hollywood sense as more than one server. This is like the matrix where the software will come to realize that it is not in the real world, but in a virtual world within a real world. This makes virtualization slower since the server not only has to do what it does, but it has to do what more than one server does and juggle it around well enough that nothing falls.

This technology has been there in hosting datacenters for ages, as we said virtualization of the CPU is nothing new. Now they add a new ingredient, and that is they virtualize your storage. See a server is both the CPU and the storage where it keeps its memory and data, or its “identity”.

Now when you do that something magical happens when you add the right sauce. If you just put a layer to manage that storage and virtualization, it becomes easy to do stuff like copy your server and make more of it when you need more processing power or when you need to test a new patch before taking it online. Trying new server software becomes 3 clicks away, you do not have to mess with buying a new server, installing the operating system and then the applications, because most vendors now have cloud instances that you can download and run in a few clicks.

Backing up a virtualized server is so much easier than a normal server and restoring it is a child’s play compared to a normal server.

 

 

The cloud helps you a lot when you need to manage a large number of small servers, but there is a dark side to it too. We can look at that and what is the best usage for the cloud in part 2, stay tuned.