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Cloud Computing is a style of computing in which dynamically scalable and often virtualized resources are provided as a service over the Internet. Users need not have knowledge of, expertise in, or control over the technology infrastructure in the "cloud" that supports them. The concept incorporates technologies that have the common theme of reliance on the Internet for satisfying the computing needs of the users. Cloud Computing services usually provide applications online that are accessed from a web browser, while the software and data are stored on the servers.
Companies or individuals engaging in Cloud Computing do not own the physical infrastructure hosting the software platform in question. Instead, they avoid capital expenditure by renting usage from a third-party provider (except for the case of 'Private Cloud' - see below). They consume resources as a service, paying instead for only the resources they use. Many Cloud Computing offerings have adopted the utility computing model, which is analogous to how traditional utilities like electricity are consumed, while others are billed on a subscription basis.
The Opportunity for Cloud Computing
The growing market offering Cloud-based solutions is particularly broad, coming either from big worldwide companies such as Amazon, Google, Microsoft, IBM, etc., and from smaller but equally agile companies such as, GoGrid, Mosso, Enomaly, Bungee Labs Connect, LongJump, Coghead, and others.
The last years have seen increased activity, with Google, IBM, and a number of universities embarking on a large scale Cloud Computing research project. The term started gaining popularity in the mainstream IT literature, and numerous Cloud Computing events had been scheduled in many important symposiums all over the world.
The models that are currently used to offer Cloud Computing solutions, may be layered as:
The main advantage offered by those solutions is the reduction of infrastructure costs, and of the infrastructure's maintenance. By not owning the hardware and software, Cloud users avoid capital expenditure by renting usage from a third-party provider. Customers pay for only the resources they use. The advantage for the provider of the Cloud, is that sharing computing power among multiple tenants improves utilization rates, as servers are not left idle, which can reduce costs and increase efficiency.
Public cloud or external cloud describes cloud computing in the traditional mainstream sense, whereby resources are dynamically provisioned on a fine-grained, self-service basis over the Internet, via web applications/web services, from an off-site third-party provider who shares resources and bills on a fine-grained utility computing basis.
Private cloud and internal cloud describe offerings deploying cloud computing on private networks. These solutions aim to "deliver some benefits of cloud computing without the pitfalls", capitalizing on data security, corporate governance, and reliability concerns. On the other hand, users still have to buy, deploy, manage, and maintain them, and as such do not benefit from lower up-front capital costs and less hands-on management.
The majority of cloud computing infrastructure, today, consists of reliable services delivered through data centers and built on servers with different levels of virtualization technologies. The services are accessible anywhere that has access to networking infrastructure. The Cloud appears as a single point of access for all the computing needs of consumers. The offerings need to meet the quality of service requirements of customers and typically offer service level agreements, and, at the same time proceed over the typical limitations.
The architecture of the computing platform proposed by NICE (fig. 1) differs from the others in some interesting ways:
Further, because the NICE Cloud solution is built on advanced IT technologies, including virtualization and workload management, the execution platform is dynamically able to allocate, monitor, and configure a new environment as needed by the application, inside the Cloud infrastructure. The NICE platform offers these important properties:
Find out more about the CloudFrame solution - already deployed by major Service Provider and software companies, to power their paid, public cloud offerings.