August 30th, 2021            Click here to download the PDF file

Cloud Platform, Part 2 of 3


In our last newsletter, we introduced background on the rise of the cloud platform, its application model and advantages. In this newsletter, we will describe the key technologies of the cloud platform and how the cloud technology is used.

The Cloud is an innovative architectural model developed from previous data center models. One of the most significant aspects of this new model is a distributed architecture that employs virtualization and containers.


What is virtualization? What role does it play in the Cloud?

Virtualization is a resource management technology that abstracts the physical resources of computers and converts them into one or more computer environments that can be divided, combined, and defined as virtual computing entities. Virtualization plays a very central role in the field of cloud computing. Using virtualization technology, users can create multiple simulation environments or dedicated resources based on a single physical hardware system, that enables simple and easy allocation of computer resources, and efficient delivery of system services.

Virtualization in the cloud platform relies on the use of virtual machines, creating a kind of “software computer” that effectively provides the same functions as a physical computer. This new architecture enables easier implementation and management of computing tasks such as application programs and operating system functions as the needs of users arise and change. In addition to being able to run multiple operating systems on a single computing resource and use resources more effectively, the virtual machine also offers advantages in disaster recovery and application management. As a result, many services in the cloud platform are built around the virtual machine, which is one of the core functions of the cloud platform. Two of the most common virtualization platforms used today are:

•  VMware: This is a mature and complete commercial virtualization platform offering easy installation and maintenance and comprehensive documentation. In particular, its graphical interface greatly reduces the learning curve of users. The main drawback: as a commercial offering, the cost of use increases as the data center expands, driven by the need to purchase more licenses and professional support services in support of a larger system.

•  OpenStack: This is an open source virtualization platform, whose core virtualization technology is KVM of Linux. The benefits of open source are a free and flexible architecture. Related storage and network design can be customized with this virtualization platform using operator-developed drivers. The main drawback: while purchase costs are free or low, the associated documentation is not always fully updated, making the deployment and application learning curve steeper and more difficult than VMware.

Notwithstanding which platform is chosen, the benefits of virtualization technology use within the cloud platform not only reduce the complexity of the deployment, but also shorten deployment time. However, while configuration and deployments may be simpler and faster, customer experience also shows the approach is not entirely without drawbacks. These include:

•  The process of deploying new virtual machines takes longer than desirable.

•  More downtime is required for application upgrades or downgrades.

•  The ability to migrate data between different virtual machine platforms is not always supported.

In the face of more flexible cloud platform service applications, virtualization technology has some limitations. By comparison, “containers” offer characteristics of lightweight operation and more flexibility, which overcome such limitations. Containers have thus played a greater role in the field of cloud technology.

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