Cloud is the logical evolution of Compute Power moving from an owned resource to a utility. In his book ‘The Big Switch’, Nicholas Carr likens the utilisation of electricity at the turn of the previous century, to what is happening now in the IT industry. As such, Cloud has been made possible primarily through the technological advances that machine virtualisation has provided. Just as technological advances in the late 1800’s allowed longer distribution lines for Electricity, leading to electricity becoming a utility.
According to the NIST Definition of Cloud Computing, the five essential characteristics that cloud computing systems must offer are:
- On-demand self-service, to enable users to easily provision what they require without needing the assistance of cloud provider personnel
- Broad network access, enabling access from a multitude of different devices
- Resource pooling, derived mainly from the capability provided through virtualisation
- Rapid elasticity, providing on-demand computing, hence the ability to ramp up and down as required
- Measured service, the key to Cloud, only pay for what you use
Cloud is broken up into a number of Service Models, or ‘as a Service’ offerings, with the three main service types being Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS). Along with this, we have a number of Deployment models with the two main arguments being for Public Cloud as opposed to Private Cloud. Many organisations see the benefits of Public Cloud, but require control over some systems, which has led to the adoption of Hybrid models, where they make use of some services in the Public Cloud and others hosted in their own Private Cloud.
For organisations offering IT Training services, the Public Cloud is an attractive option for hosting lab environments for various instructor-led or even virtual deliveries. Of the essential characteristics that a Public Cloud offers, the On-demand self-service enables the IT Training provider to spin up the required number of machines, dependant on student registrations for the course. The broad network access allows students to use the device they desire, and through resource pooling and rapid elasticity, students are ensured the performance they require to complete their practical components. On top of that, the Training Provider benefits from not having to host their own costly data-centre to provide the lab environment required for training. The IaaS service model is an attractive option for IT Training organisations. Red Education uses IaaS in the Public cloud to deliver a premium training experience for a number of the courses they offer.
Written by David van Gemert