Cloud computing builds on established trends for driving the cost out of the delivery of services while increasing the speed and agility with which services are deployed. It shortens the time from sketching out an application architecture to actual deployment. Cloud computing incorporates virtualization, on-demand deployment, Internet delivery of services, and open source software. From one perspective, cloud computing is nothing new because it uses approaches, concepts, and best practices that have already been established. From another perspective, everything is new because cloud computing changes how we invent, develop, deploy, scale, update, maintain, and pay for applications and the infrastructure on which they run.

Virtual machines as the standard deployment object
Over the last several years, virtual machines have become a standard deployment object. Virtualization further enhances flexibility because it abstracts the hardware to the point where software stacks can be deployed and redeployed without being tied to a specific physical server. Virtualization enables a dynamic datacenter where servers provide a pool of resources that are harnessed as needed, and where the relationship of applications to compute, storage, and network resources changes dynamically in order to meet both workload and business demands. With application deployment decoupled from server deployment, applications can be deployed and scaled rapidly, without having to first procure physical servers.

Virtual machines have become the prevalent abstraction — and unit of deployment — because they are the least-common denominator interface between service providers and developers. Using virtual machines as deployment objects is sufficient for 80 percent of usage, and it helps to satisfy the need to rapidly deploy and scale applications.

Virtual appliances, virtual machines that include software that is partially or fully configured to perform a specific task such as a Web or database server, further enhance the ability to create and deploy applications rapidly. The combination of virtual machines and appliances as standard deployment objects is one of the key features of cloud computing. Compute clouds are usually complemented by storage clouds that provide virtualized storage through APIs that facilitate storing virtual machine images, source files for components such as Web servers, application state data, and general business data.

Source of Information : Introduction to Cloud Computing architecture White Paper 1st Edition, June 2009


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