Services are delivered over the network

It almost goes without saying that cloud computing extends the existing trend of making services available over the network. Virtually every business organization has recognized the value of Web-based interfaces to their applications, whether they are made available to customers over the Internet, or whether they are internal applications that are made available to authorized employees, partners, suppliers, and consultants. The beauty of Internet-based service delivery, of course, is that applications can be made available anywhere, and at any time.

While enterprises are well aware of the ability to secure communications using Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encryption along with strong authentication, bootstrapping trust in a cloud computing environment requires carefully considering the differences between enterprise computing and cloud computing. When properly architected, Internet service delivery can provide the flexibility and security required by enterprises of all sizes.

The role of open source software
Open source software plays an important role in cloud computing by allowing its basic software elements — virtual machine images and appliances — to be created from easily accessible components. This has an amplifying effect:

• Developers, for example, can create a database appliance by layering MySQL software onto an instance of the OpenSolaris™ Operating System and performing customizations. Appliances such as these enable cloud computing applications to be created, deployed, and dynamically scaled on demand. Consider, for example, how open source software allows an application such as that created by Animoto to scale to 3,500 instances in a matter of days.

• The ease with which open source components can be used to assemble large applications generates more open source components. This, in turn, makes the role of open source software even more important. The need, for example, to have a MapReduce algorithm that can run in a cloud-computing environment, was one of the factors stimulating its development. Now that the tool has been created, it is being used to further raise the level at which developers ‘program’ cloud computing applications.

Appliances can be created by layering open source software into a virtual machine image and performing customizations that simplify their deployment. In this example, a database appliance is created by layering MySQL software on top of the OpenSolaris Operating System.


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