Bill Kleyman is a virtualization and cloud solutions architect at MTM Technologies where he works extensively with data center, cloud, networking, and storage design projects. You can find him on LinkedIn .
With advancements in Wide Area Networking (WAN), data center facilities and the overall technology landscape, organizations have been able to do much more over the Internet than ever before. Although cloud computing is a relatively new buzz term, the concept around the technology has been around for a while.
Even before the “cloud,” users were utilizing Internet and WAN services to house data and deliver it to any device in the world – given a connection of course. Now, this technology has leapt forward even more, promising to deliver newer platforms and more diverse solutions. The idea behind cloud computing is to efficiently utilize shared resources and maximize computing density. With better underlying hardware, developers have been able to become creative with some of the platforms that cloud computing can actually deliver.
To gain a better understanding, we’ll take a look at some of these offerings and how the cloud plays a role in their delivery.
- Virtual Desktops. Many organizations have begun using technologies from Citrix XenDesktop or VMware View. By virtualizing a desktop, administrators can rapidly provision fully functional desktop experiences to consultants, users, lab workers, and temporary employees all with a couple of clicks. Now, with cloud computing, these virtual desktops can be delivered over the WAN. A user would simply access a corporate portal, sign in using their assigned credentials and have access to a corporate image. Using WAN optimization technologies and compression mechanisms, the virtual desktop can be effectively pushed over the Internet to the end-user.
- Virtual Applications. Like virtual desktops, applications can be virtualized using technologies from Citrix XenApp, VMware ThinApp or other app virtualization platforms. Administrators are able to centralize their application environment and deliver these apps to the end-user based on permissions and policies. These primary business applications would be controlled at the data center level and can be delivered through a controlled portal over the WAN or LAN. Optimization technologies have improved so much so that resource-heavy applications (SolidWorks or AutoCAD) can now be effectively pushed over the Internet.
- Extended Temporary Data Centers. Many industries experience fluctuations in their data flow or user counts. Peak seasons see an influx of users hitting a data center and sometimes even overwhelming existing resources. Using public cloud services, an organization can effectively provision servers on-demand. Using load-balancing devices coupled with a cloud presence, an organization can immediately spin up new servers or resources in the cloud if their existing environment begins to peak. This allows for rapid provisioning and de-provisioning of resources without actually buying anything in the local data center. By creating a cloud bridge, administrators can have access to a temporarily extended data center.
- Backup Solutions. Increased bandwidth on the WAN has allowed the backup market to flourish. Cloud-based data centers are now offering services directly revolving around backup. Whether the backup is synchronous or asynchronous, there are numerous options for many different organizations. Backup offerings can range from simple file-based backup to granular, full infrastructure backup solutions. Many times backup services are offered as not only a way to secure data for recovery – but also so that this backup can be used as a disaster recovery means as well.
- Distributed Testing and Development. Like a data center extension, may organizations have begun to use public cloud offerings for the testing and development practices. Adopting a simple “pay-as-you-go” or “pay-as-you-grow” model, companies can dedicate equipment for certain periods of time based on their testing needs. Furthermore, specific testing metrics can be passed to the cloud provider to ensure that the right resources are in place for the testing to occur. Once all metrics are gathered and the organization is satisfied with the environment, they can simple cease using the platform and decommission their cloud infrastructure. This can all be done without any additional data center hardware purchases.
- Disaster Recovery. Unlike simple backup, creating a disaster recovery strategy can be much more involved. Now, cloud computing can play a role in the planning process. For example, an organization can back up their entire Exchange infrastructure to the cloud. If a disaster occurs, the contract agreement between the organization and cloud provider can stipulate the a new cloud-based server is immediately started up with the relevant mail server information loaded on it. For organizations requiring greater uptime, hot server VMs can be running in the cloud. These instances can be ready almost immediately to take over the load of the failed environment. DR can be expanded to applications, databases, license servers and much more.
Regardless of the solution, cloud computing has the capability of truly extending the presence of an organization. Now that there is a better understanding of the cloud, companies and IT departments can make better plans revolving around this technology. The expansion of the web can only translate to more utilization of cloud computing and all of the various services that it can provide.
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