We often get the question “What’s the difference between Cloud, Collocation and Virtualization?”
Lets start from the ground up:
Collocation / Data Centers
Collocation or Data Centers build and maintain facilities which are specifically built to house servers. They offer (4) Key components
- Clean, Uninterrupted Power. This not only keeps the services online , but also extends the life of your servers.
- Consider how much you are spending on power and UPS (maintenance and initial purchase). Usually a server cost $80 – $100 / month to run. @ about 6-8 servers, you should consider moving to a data center.
- Cooling which helps to extend the life of your servers.
- Does your server room has 24/7 cooling? IF not, you should consider moving to a data center. IF yes, consider how much your air conditioner cost to run every month not including the maintenance. Average cost for an A/C running 24/7 is about $300 / month.
- Physical security to ensure only authorized access to your servers.
- Can anyone physically access your servers? Once you lose physical access to your servers, your data has been compromised.
- Volume of scale; by housing a lot of servers and service providers in a single physical facility pricing for bandwidth and other services becomes very competitive and thus lower. Pricing for internet access can get as low as $1/Mbps vs $30 / Mbps delivered to your office.
- Do you serve a lot of users outside of your office? Do you get a lot of email? Do you send large files? Consider moving to a data center so your server can have massive amounts of reliable , quick (low latency) bandwidth.
Now that we have our servers in a data center, lets reduce how many servers we need. You may have multiple servers, all running 1 application which do not run at the same time. Using one server to run multiple applications or running several servers in a cluster to run several applications allows you to maximize your resources (CPU, RAM) which newer servers have plenty of as well as gain redundancy and reliability for mission critical applications.
1. Can your applications be virtualized.
2. How many servers do you want to run? (is it cost effective).
3. How important is the application? Can it be run in a cluster (2 physical servers vs. Virtual Servers).
Now that you can have physical servers acting as multiple virtual servers , could we have other companies / people using our “cloud”.
The cloud is nothing more than a LARGE group of servers running virutalization stored at a data center which anyone can use. If you are using a hosted Email solution, you most likely are already using cloud computing.
Not all applications are meant to be on the cloud, but ALOT are.
- Google Email lets you access your email from anywhere in the world
- Google Docs lets you collaborate online , live with other users
- Google Calendar lets you schedule with others online
- Google Contacts syncs all your devices with people you know
- Never lose any or your email, contacts , docs or calendars
File Storage :
- Dropbox.com – up to 100GB online using Amazon S3
- Amazon S3 direct – $0.14 / GB Stored online
Photo Storage :
- photobucket.com – unlimited storage
- Spotify.com – store and listen to your music online
- Redundancy / availability / Access
- cloud providers invest massive amounts of money to create clusters which ensure your virtual machine is always alive or can be moved to a new phsycial host.
- cloud providers should also be in multiple data centers, ensuring your services can be restored to a new geographically diverse physical location.
- cloud providers should also have tier 1 and multiple path internet access (usually based on the data center they choose).
- Latency; does your application require you to be within 10 milliseconds or your server?
- Privacy / Security ; do you store sensitive data? does your corporate philosophy still not trust Amazon, Google or other cloud providers?
- No physical access to your servers ; knowing this is easy to work around but its something you need to plan for.
Moving to the cloud can save you money, reduce IT cost and improve reliability. Know your applications, Know your data but most importantly, KNOW YOUR CLOUD PROVIDER.