Settling the Question: What is the Cloud?

Cloud & Virtualization

Settling the Question: What is the Cloud?

By Frank Yue, Director of Application Delivery Solutions  |  October 31, 2016

What is the cloud? Lately I’ve been asking IT experts that question, and I’m amazed by the variety of responses.

Occasionally, I get a humorous response like, “Someone else’s computer.” More often than not, there’s a long silence as the person tries to formulate and concisely articulate what the cloud means to them.

Almost every answer is unique. Even though the cloud has been around for more than 10 years and there are countless cloud technologies, solutions, and vendors, it’s still difficult to come up with a unified and concrete definition for the cloud.

I humbly offer my take: When in the cloud, my applications and data are available anytime, anywhere, and on any device no matter the current IT conditions. 

It’s important to note that my definition doesn’t apply to the structure of the cloud since there are as many designs as there are definitions. The businesses that leverage cloud technologies are less concerned about how the cloud works than the benefits it provides.

“Anytime, anywhere, any device, and any conditions” translates to application availability and ensuring a positive user experience. A cloud environment, private or public, is an ideal IT architecture to deliver these benefits.

Four Key Benefits of Cloud
The cloud is both dynamic and flexible. It starts as a blank slate; without applications or data, it’s the IT equivalent of primordial clay or immature stem cells.

But by leveraging the cloud to deliver applications and data to users, organizations can realize several key benefits. 

Agility – To keep pace with evolving business needs, organizations must modify their existing applications or launch new applications quickly and efficiently. The flexibility of cloud environments enables organizations to do so more effectively than traditional hardware-based, fixed data centers.

Elasticity – Cloud environments enable businesses to scale resources for an application as demand fluctuates. If the demand is geocentric, such as for a sporting event, resources can be adjusted within the cloud infrastructure to best serve that locale.

Cost savings – General-purpose hardware, such as common off the shelf servers, allows the cloud to use the same infrastructure for different applications depending on the current needs.

Expertise offloading – Businesses can leverage the cloud to varying degrees, and choose from infrastructure as a service, platform as a service, or software as a service. Each offering increases the cloud supplier’s responsibility for managing and supporting the infrastructure. Since the cloud provider manages the technology, businesses don’t need to find employees with the skill sets to architect and manage the complete IT infrastructure.

Cloud – I’ll Be There for You

Cloud architectures depend on virtualization technologies to adapt to the various applications and their requirements. Management and orchestration technologies also are needed to maintain application availability, including servers, security, authentication, and network topology.

The goal is to give end users access to applications and data without unnecessary restrictions. Technology trends like bring your own device, 4G/LTE (News - Alert) connections, and the Internet of Things are changing how businesses deploy applications and how users access them.

There’s no doubt the cloud helps businesses simplify and streamline their IT architectures and operations in a changing IT environment. The cloud creates a common platform that supports multiple applications and can adjust to the changing requirements of the applications and their users. For most people, that means their applications work, without exception.

Frank Yue is the Director Application Delivery Solutions for Radware (News - Alert). In this role, Yue is responsible for evangelizing technologies and trends around Radware’s ADC (News - Alert) solutions and products. He writes blogs, produces solution architectures, and speaks at conferences and events around the world about application networking technologies. Prior to joining Radware, Yue was at F5 Networks (News - Alert) (News - Alert), delivering their global messaging for service providers. Yue has also covered deep packet inspection, high performance networking, and security technologies. Yue is a scuba diving instructor and background actor when he is not discussing technology.

Edited by Alicia Young
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