Since the past decade or so, Cloud Computing has essentially transformed the way individuals and organizations execute work. It won’t be wrong to say that the cloud has brought about a revolution in the way data is being collected, stored and managed.
Another hallmark of the Cloud Industry has been its constant evolution and innovation. You conceive a solution over the cloud and it is highly likely that the architecture or service will be tailored by some Cloud Service Provider (CSP). This post is exclusively meant for the uninitiated as we give an overview of a basic cloud architecture.
- Cloud Computing and Strategic Business Advantages 2020
- 2020 Outlook for Data, Cloud and Security
- Why Will Multi Cloud be the Future of Cloud?
Basic Cloud Architecture
We can consider all the components used to deliver a cloud based service as part of the overall cloud architecture. A distinguishing feature of the cloud is that data or applications are converged at a central location. Various users will gain access to this central location remotely and execute their work thereon.
Following are some of the major building blocks of any cloud based architecture:-
- Front-end / User Interface
- Cloud Based Delivery
Front End / User Interface
As the name suggests, this is the component of the cloud architecture that has direct interface with the end users. The good thing about the cloud is that the front end is accessible from multiple locations and device platforms. For instance a user can access the cloud solution from home, office or while travelling.
In addition to multiple locations, a cloud based solution can be accessed from multiple device platforms. Some of the common devices compatible with such a solution are smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop. Typically, most cloud solutions are accessed using any mainstream browser.
It is pertinent to mention that no major workload or processing is being executed at the front end level of the cloud architecture. A user is simply using the front end to interact with the cloud solution and also receive feedback on the provided inputs. Even a very basic, low spec device can be used as a front end for a cloud solution.
This is that component of the cloud infrastructure which basically handles bulk of the workload. Depending on the nature and purpose of deploying a cloud solution, this may include servers, computers, storage drives, programs and applications or a combination of these.
You can consider the back end as the back bone of the whole cloud infrastructure. Using any of the above front end devices, the user will pass instructions to the back end, which will then execute the tasks or processes at express pace. The outcome of the back end’s execution then becomes visible over the front end of the cloud.
In addition to the handling of workloads, the back end also contains the mechanisms, protocols and rules NF that will govern the whole functioning of the cloud based solution. A very important aspect of the back end is user authentication. This is a very critical component of any cloud based solution.
The above rules and protocols ensure that no unauthorized access is granted to the cloud solution in order to protect and preserve business critical data. These protocols also play a key role in optimizing the workloads being executed over the cloud infrastructure.
Cloud Based Delivery
This component of the cloud deployment outlines which exact process will be offered over the cloud and in which form. Let’s cover some of the most common services that are delivered over the cloud infrastructure.
Software as a Service or SaaS is a delivery model in which an enterprise or productivity software is offered over the cloud. A separate virtual instance of the software solution is provided to each user from a central location to execute the routine work. All the inputs, access and outputs are managed through the front end.
Infrastructure as a Service or IaaS is another deployment model in which the CSP provides storage, compute or database management to the cloud tenant in exchange for a usage fee. Typically, IaaS is based on the pay as you use model and can be scaled up or down as per organizational needs.
Platform as a Service or PaaS is a delivery model in which the CSP provides a fully functional development environment to the cloud tenant. Using this development platform, an entity can tailor the best enterprise solution in line with it unique organizational needs.
There may be more or even hybrid deployment models but we have covered some of the most essential and basic components of a cloud solution implementation.
The network component of a cloud solution outlines how the front end, delivery mechanism and back end will interact with each other. Some of the common examples include:-
The internet is used by most public cloud providers as the preferred network. All the inputs and outputs travel between the CSP and deploying organization over the internet. Although this is a very cost effective solution, it is somewhat risky and heavily reliant over the performance of internet.
This cloud solution is set up and managed by the individual organization in house. In this deployment model, all the hardware associated with the cloud solution is procured and maintained on premise. Still, all the data and applications are converged at a single location and served to users over the intranet or VPN.
Although this model offers the highest control and best security in theory, the downside to such a deployment is the heavy cost associated with setting up all the hardware in house. In such a model, all the cloud infrastructure is fully managed by the deploying entity itself.
Some organizations may opt to use a combination of both the public and private cloud. This is quite a complex deployment model as the foremost issue pertains to allocation of workloads. Nonetheless, in this model, some workloads will be handled by a CSP, while the others will be managed on premise.
A hybrid model is implemented when an entity wants to maintain some workloads on premise, either for data security reasons or to exercise greater control. The type of network employed will vary with the needs of each individual entity.
In this post, we have outlined some key components of a basic cloud computing solution. With the cloud, the deployment and implementation options are virtually endless. Each entity has to decide for itself whether it needs a cloud based solution and if so, which CSP and implementation model should they select.