What is true cloud? That’s easy. True cloud is a cloud computing service that’s public and multi-tenant, built with a shared cloud infrastructure. Got it? If not, some further explanation is in order.
What is Cloud Computing?
To understand the difference between true cloud and alternative forms of cloud computing, it’s necessary to grasp a few basic concepts that define cloud computing in general. First, what’s all this talk about a cloud, anyway?
The term originated in early discussions of the Internet. In contrast to fixed IT assets like servers, storage units and network switches, which were hosted on your own data center, the “cloud” referred to abstract, perhaps even unknown alternative locations for all this infrastructure. It could be anywhere, so it might as well as be in a cloud. And, like a cloud, these abstract locations were theoretically limitless in their capacity.
Virtualization is the key to the cloud. If you don’t understand virtualization, the cloud will not make much sense. Virtualization is the process of running multiple independent computers on a single piece of computer hardware. Before virtualization, if you wanted to run a Windows Server, for example, you would have to install Windows Server on a computer and from then on, that computer would only run that single instance of Windows Server.
This turned out to be very inefficient. A server with low levels of activity took just as much space and used just as much energy as a buy server. To solve this problem, tech companies like IBM, Microsoft and VMware came out with software that enable you to run multiple “virtual machines” or VMs on a single physical machine. (This is known as a “HyperVisor.”) Thus, you could have a rack in a data center running hundreds of VMs, each with different configurations.
Each VM is a “tenant” on the physical server. This practice is known as a “multi-tenant architecture.” In the cloud, multi-tenancy combines with a software architecture that relies on logical, not physical addresses of digital assets. With this abstracted software architecture and the multi-tenant approach, it’s possible for a cloud data center to run thousands (or even millions) of VMs for different customers along with virtualized storage.
Cloud computing has brought us a variety of IT offerings on demand or “as-a-service.” We’ve got Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), where you can use your browser to use a complete software application that’s hosted in the cloud. Acumatica, for example, is SaaS. There’s also Infrastructure-as-a-Service, which lets you set up VMs and storage however you like, just without hosting it yourself. Platform-as-a-Service allows you turn software platforms like Oracle or Microsoft Windows Server on demand.
The advantage of “as-a-service” offerings, and cloud computing in general, flows from a combination of flexibility and low costs. You can scale “as-a-service” offerings up and down as needed. You can change them as you want. You pay for what you use, sometimes even paying by the minute for a server. It’s an operating expense (OpEx), with no need to make a capital investment (CapEx) in physical machine, software, datacenter facilities. Staff overhead tends to drop when you adopt cloud as well.
True Cloud vs. Other Modes of Cloud Computing
In industry parlance, “true cloud” means cloud computing services that are built on shared (multi-tenant) infrastructure. They’re public, meaning they run on services like Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services (AWS). When you spin up a VM on AWS, it’s in a public, multi-tenant environment. Your software could be running on the same server as your local plumber’s website. It makes no difference. The cloud service sets up rigid protections that keep your plumber from accessing your data and vice versa.
Alternatives to true cloud include architectures like private cloud and hybrid cloud. A private cloud is a deployment of hardware and software that you own and run in your own facility, but which is set up to mimic a cloud. A private cloud is virtualized and multi-tenant, except all the tenants are from your company.
Why do businesses do this? One reason is that they like the cloud architecture and want each group in their company to rent a VM from the IT department just like they would from AWS. Also, private clouds enable you to run a cloud architecture without running afoul of any data security requirements that forbid placing customer data outside the premises.
A hybrid cloud is an architecture that spans a public cloud and private cloud. The term can also refer to a connection between cloud infrastructure and traditional, dedicated hosting of digital assets on-premises, e.g. Connecting Acumatica in the cloud with an old mainframe running in the data center.
The advantage of true cloud is that it’s the most flexible and scalable option. It allows you to run all of your software without hosting any of it. This can deliver big savings and IT department flexibility.
We have extensive experience setting up companies like yours with true cloud software for ERP and finance. To learn more, visit https://erpsoftware.ipro-inc.com/.