The Cloud Is the Latest Computing Architecture

Cloud computing is becoming more common for a variety of reasons. If you’re interested in moving to private or public cloud computing, here we’ll cover the basics of cloud computing architecture and how it is being implemented today.

Front and Back-end Cloud Computing Architecture Areas

Cloud computing architecture has two main areas: front-end architecture and back-end architecture.

Front-end architecture is where end users interact with the cloud. These are usually browser-based thin-clients which don’t do real processing. It’s becoming more common to find mobile application-based front-end clients which can be thin or thick-clients. You will also find tablet and/or desktop-based thick-clients do some processing while leaving the heavy lifting to the back-end cloud.

The back-end area is for cloud computing architecture. It’s comprised of server farms in a datacenter with virtualized servers, virtual networks, and shared storage. These servers have special operating systems allowing for a higher density of servers and elasticity. Elasticity allows virtual machines to be created or destroyed as the demand for service increases or decreases.

Cloud Computing Architecture Delivery Models

There are three main ways cloud computing architecture can be delivered.

  1. Public cloud computing is an infrastructure delivered over the internet by a cloud provider. The infrastructure is often shared by other customers and is charged on a pay-as-you-go model for only the resources you use. While this option offers the most flexibility, it doesn’t have the security a private cloud offers.
  1. Private cloud infrastructure is physically located at your organization on your own network. While this option costs more, it offers higher security. This model requires advanced technical knowledge to design, build, and manage the private cloud which can significantly increase costs. But if security and the ability to manage the infrastructure are important to your organization, then the private cloud is the best option.
  1. Hybrid cloud is a mix of public and private cloud platforms. Parts of your cloud could be hosted in the public cloud while others are hosted on your own physical servers. This model is helpful if you need higher security for certain applications, but can leave other projects in the public cloud like websites, email, or other.

Cloud Service Models

Cloud computing architecture will include one or more service models.

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is a service model providing an infrastructure. Examples of IaaS providers include Amazon AWS, Google Cloud, and OpenStack. This model allows you to control and manage everything, including the servers, operating systems, networking, storage, security, and more. The IaaS service model is typically used by engineers and IT departments.

Platform as a Service (PaaS) offers development infrastructure which developers can use to host their applications without concern of the technical aspects of an operating system. This means developers can focus on their application stack, not on operating system maintenance. Popular PaaS providers include Google App Engine, Heroku, Microsoft Azure, and Pivotal Cloud Foundry.

Software as a Service (SaaS) is the software in a cloud infrastructure where the application is accessed through a web browser or mobile application. Common examples include Amazon Cloud Reader, Google Docs, and Google Gmail. This model is mostly utilized by end users who don’t need to be concerned with installing or upgrading the software.

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