Virtualization

The Three Layers of Cloud Computing

Cloud computing is made up of a variety of layered elements, starting at the most basic physical layer of storage and server infrastructure and working up through the application and network layers. The cloud can be further divided into different implementation models based on whether it's created internally, outsourced or a combination of the two.

The three cloud layers are:

  • Infrastructure cloud: Abstracts applications from servers and servers from storage
  • Content cloud: Abstracts data from applications
  • Information cloud: Abstracts access from clients to data

The three cloud implementation models are:

  • Private cloud: Created and run internally by an organization or purchased and stored within the organization and run by a third party
  • Hybrid cloud: Outsources some but not all elements either internally or externally
  • Public cloud: No physical infrastructure locally, all access to data and applications is external

An infrastructure cloud includes the physical components that run applications and store data. Virtual servers are created to run applications, and virtual storage pools are created to house new and existing data into dynamic tiers of storage based on performance and reliability requirements. Virtual abstraction is employed so that servers and storage can be managed as logical rather than individual physical entities.

The content cloud implements metadata and indexing services over the infrastructure cloud to provide abstracted data management for all content. The goal of a content cloud is to abstract the data from the applications so that different applications can be used to access the same data, and applications can be changed without worrying about data structure or type. The content cloud transforms data into objects so that the interface to the data is no longer tied to the actual access to the data, and the application that created the content in the first place can be long gone while the data itself is still available and searchable.

The information cloud is the ultimate goal of cloud computing and the most common from a public perspective. The information cloud abstracts the client from the data. For example, a user can access data stored in a database in Singapore via a mobile phone in Atlanta, or watch a video located on a server in Japan from his a laptop in the U.S. The information cloud abstracts everything from everything. The Internet is an information cloud.

Christopher Poelker is the author of Storage Area Networks for Dummies, the vice president of enterprise solutions at FalconStor Software, and deputy commissioner of the TechAmerica Foundation Commission on the Leadership Opportunity in U.S. Deployment of the Cloud (CLOUD┬▓).

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