SQL SERVER – Introduction to Cloud Computing

Introduction

“Cloud Computing,” to put it simply, means “Internet Computing.” The Internet is commonly visualized as clouds; hence the term “cloud computing” for computation done through the Internet. With Cloud Computing users can access database resources via the Internet from anywhere, for as long as they need, without worrying about any maintenance or management of actual resources. Besides, databases in cloud are very dynamic and scalable.

Cloud computing is unlike grid computing, utility computing, or autonomic computing. In fact, it is a very independent platform in terms of computing. The best example of cloud computing is Google Apps where any application can be accessed using a browser and it can be deployed on thousands of computer through the Internet.

Key Characteristics

Cloud computing is cost-effective. Here, cost is greatly reduced as initial expense and recurring expenses are much lower than traditional computing. Maintenance cost is reduced as a third party maintains everything from running the cloud to storing data. Cloud is characterized by features such as platform, location and device independency, which make it easily adoptable for all sizes of businesses, in particular small and mid-sized. However, owing to redundancy of computer system networks and storage system cloud may not be reliable for data, but it scores well as far as security is concerned. In cloud computing, security is tremendously improved because of a superior technology security system, which is now easily available and affordable. Yet another important characteristic of cloud is scalability, which is achieved through server virtualization.

In a nutshell, cloud computing means getting the best performing system with the best value for money.

Cloud Computing Architecture

Cloud computing architecture, just like any other system, is categorized into two main sections: Front End and Back End. Front End can be end user or client or any application (i.e. web browser etc.) which is using cloud services. Back End is the network of servers with any computer program and data storage system. It is usually assumed that cloud contains infinite storage capacity for any software available in market. Cloud has different applications that are hosted on their own dedicated server farms.

Cloud has centralized server administration system. Centralized server administers the system, balances client supply, adjusts demands, monitors traffic and avoids congestion. This server follows protocols, commonly known as middleware. Middleware controls the communication of cloud network among them.

Cloud Architecture runs on a very important assumption, which is mostly true. The assumption is that the demand for resources is not always consistent from client to cloud. Because of this reason the servers of cloud are unable to run at their full capacity. To avoid this scenario, server virtualization technique is applied. In sever virtualization, all physical servers are virtualized and they run multiple servers with either same or different application. As one physical server acts as multiple physical servers, it curtails the need for more physical machines.

As a matter of fact, data is the most important part of cloud computing; thus, data security is the top most priority in all the data operations of cloud. Here, all the data are backed up at multiple locations. This astoundingly increases the data storage to multiple times in cloud compared with a regular system. Redundancy of data is crucial, which is a must-have attribute of cloud computing.

Different forms of Cloud Computing

Google Apps., Salesforce.com, Zoho Office and various other online applications use cloud computing as Software-As-Service (SAAS) model. These applications are delivered through browser, and multiple customers can access it from various locations. This model has become the most common form of cloud computing because it is beneficial and practical for both the customers and the services providers. For customers, there is no upfront investment and they can Pay-As-They-Go and Pay-As-They-Grow. On the other hand, the service providers, can grow easily as their customer base grows.

Aamzon.com, Sun and IBM offer on-demand storage and computing resources. Web service and APIs enable developers to use all the cloud from internet and allow them to create large-scale, full-featured application. Cloud is not simply limited to providing data storage or computing resources, it can also provide managed services or specific application services through web.

Cloud Computing Concerns

Security of confidential data (e.g., SSN or Credit Card Numbers) is a very important area of concern as it can make way for very big problems if unauthorized users get access to it. Misuse of data can create big issues; hence, in cloud computing it is very important to be aware of data administrators and their extent of data access rights. Large organizations dealing with sensitive data often have well laid out regulatory compliance policies. However, these polices should be verified prior to engaging them in cloud computing. There is a possibility that in cloud computing network, sometimes the network utilizes resources from another country or they might not be fully protected; hence, the need arises for appropriate regulatory compliance policies.

In cloud computing, it is very common to store data of multiple customers at one common location. Cloud computing should have proper techniques where data is segregated properly for data security and confidentiality. Care must be taken to ensure that one customer’s data does not affect another customer’s data. In addition, Cloud computing providers must be equipped with proper disaster recovery policies to deal with any unfortunate event.

Selection of Provider

A good service provider is the key to good service. So, it is imperative to select the right service provider. One must make sure that the provider is reliable, well-reputed for their customer service and should have a proven track record in IT- related ventures. The Cloud Computing Incidents Database (CCID) records and monitors verifiable, noteworthy events that impact cloud computing providers. Visit the following Wikipedia link to obtain the list all such events. http://wiki.cloudcommunity.org/wiki/CCID

Relational Database and Cloud Computing

Comparison has often been drawn between Relational Database and Cloud Computing. They are related for sure but they should not be confused for being the same thing. In actual fact, they are not really competing with each other. There are some unique requirements of applications when they do not call for any advance query techniques but rather need fast access to database. In such scenarios cloud computing should be used. In cloud, data is stored across myriad geographic locations, and processing data from different geographic database leads to delay in receiving data. In case of applications where there is the need of processing huge database using complex queries, traditional relational database is best suited. Cloud has its limitations. As for now, it only supports distributed computing; transactional operations are not currently supported in cloud computing.

Summary

Cloud Computing is the next big thing in the arena of computing and storage. There are some concerns about security and its availability. However, different service providers are coming up with various solutions and suggestions in response to customers’ concerns. In any case, cloud is getting bigger and better, and as long as they are available through web services, without capital infrastructure investment at reasonable price, it is for sure going to proliferate and create robust demand in times to come.

Additional Reads

While writing this article, I really enjoyed reading Cloud Computing Manifesto (http://wiki.cloudcommunity.org/wiki/Cloud_Computing_Manifesto ) – public declaration of principles and intentions for cloud computing. Manifesto suggests 10 principles of cloud computing, namely User centric, Philanthropic, Openness, Transparency, Interoperability, Representation, Discrimination, Evolution, Balance, and Security.

Reference : Pinal Dave (http://blog.SQLAuthority.com), Dotnetslakers

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18 thoughts on “SQL SERVER – Introduction to Cloud Computing

  1. Great blog Cloud computing is a very confusing place at the moment none of my fellow DBA’s fully understand the platform me included. It would be good to see some more posts on this subject.

    Kevin

  2. Hi Sir,
    It’s slide hard to understand but,
    after reading two times i try to understand basics of
    cloud computing.
    Overall nice article to learn new thing.

  3. You say “In cloud computing, security is tremendously improved because of a superior technology security system, which is now easily available and affordable.”, that assumes you trust the company you’re giving all your data to…

  4. Graham touches on the huge concern with this concept, one which Open Source software has been fighting for a long time. Can your business trust the third parties to provide a secure, reliable service and round the clock support if it all breaks down.

    Individuals probably won’t mind if they can’t access Google Docs but businesses don’t have that luxury and if they don’t sign up, where is the incentive to provide these services?

  5. what’s the point of the cloud computing when your _monthly_ cost just for the storage is more than 2 bone fidelity Xeon servers which can have ten times more storage?

    well it is fine if you’re serving just text documents (say, for wikipedia) or are providing some highly-accessible community site of slashdot type, but any web 2.0 app these days ranging from forums to youtube.like sites is not possible to reside in the cloud because of the sick cost…

    getting space is very cheap these days (even in RAID) and cloud computing knows that – so they will charge you a lot, monthly… in a year, you could have built your own premisies of high quality…

    we’re no longer in age of pure text, there’s streaming sound, streaming videos, heavy pictures and GPS data or per-pay-view movies, and many more multimedias, where cloud computing would be great idea.

    but not for the cost of storage is denying anyone to go that way (unless you have tens of thousands of dollars to spend each month).

    this is not a rant, a holy truth, just calculate cost yourself (I’ve done it)

  6. This is a very interesting article regarding Cloud Computing and SQL Server. I have always questioned the logistics of moving SQL Server to a cloud environment.

  7. I’ve read a lot of articles about costs stating “so cheap to get going”. But as mirka lajcakova says I can confirm that costs of for example amazon simpledb
    are considerable.

    Also security policies of storing data outside of your own house is another reason cloud computing is not for everyone and not for every type of project.

    As a tech nerd I’ve looked at the REST interface for simpledb etc and find that really interesting. Both the REST interface as well as the fact that I can access my database from whatever type of app (console/unix/web page) and location I’m at. All with simple http traffic, no firewall problems etc. So honestly I think MS is overdoing it (as usual) (as well as doing it wrong) with Azure, seems like its gonna be pretty tight with Visual Studio. Same with G. App Engine where Python API makes it impossible to call it from webpages as well as own apps.

  8. Good article indeed. So far “Clound computing” had remained a grey area. With this article there is some clarity. Some more posts on this topic is very welcome. Thank a lot Pinal.

  9. Cloud is great but how many companies are really going to go for cloud. Just in USA, uptil now companies have invested millions of dollars on there infrastructure & majority of there databases size range from 25GB to TB. They don’t see ROI moving to cloud & what about huge investment made so far?
    Do you think they will move to CLOUD ?. As Microsoft is targeting companies with small database size between 5-10GB how many are going to move to CLOUD.
    There will be some movements where companies will go to cloud but will not overnight. we may see bigbuzz of cloud in 10 years from now. I my opinion SQL Azure or Amazon RDS or any other CLOUD service provider will be in a snail speed & will become static. other will fall off the market but Microsoft will be there with Azure for a while then will close down its Azure service.

    Technology is changing so fast that may be in 4-5 years CLOUD will be vapourized soon.

    This are just my thoughts & not my expertise.

    thanks

    • The only problem with cloud is companies won’t have any direct control on their sensitive data.May be they need to use strong encryption technologies before saving the data in the databases.

      You name it any thing cost would be the deciding factor.I agree with Mirka.Clients are more interested in cost cutting .With biggies like Microsoft coming into this arena it would interesting to see what approach small and mid sized companies would have with Cloud computing.
      Regards,
      Zainu

  10. Good article. You can find more resources here:

    http://www.microsoft.com/windowsazure/resources/

    In particular the “Introducing the Windows Azure Platform” by David Chappell provides a very useful guide to get started on Azure. You can find it here: http://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/?LinkId=158011

    In addition, I would also recommend the Windows Azure Training kit that you can download from here: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=413E88F8-5966-4A83-B309-53B7B77EDF78&displaylang=en
    This comprehensive training kit also gives samples and demos on all the components that make up the Windows Azure Platform.

    There is also a Total Cost of Ownership calculator that helps quantify the value that Azure provides to customers. http://www.microsoft.com/windowsazure/tco/

  11. The Cloud is a whole new idea of IT infrastructure.A total new concept.
    Its nu just internet based.The achitecture and management is different.
    I think its the feature.
    The article is good but it doesn’t really give the essential concept of cloud computing.

    The concept is good if it will work just as good in real live sitauations.Thats the question.

    I would recommend to check these sites out to really understand the concept.

    http://blogs.technet.com/b/yungchou/archive/2011/03/03/chou-s-theories-of-cloud-computing-the-5-3-2-principle.aspx

    http://technet.microsoft.com/nl-nl/video/technet-radio-virtually-speaking-with-yung-chou-become-the-next-private-cloud-expert

  12. Pingback: SQL SERVER – Weekly Series – Memory Lane – #040 | Journey to SQL Authority with Pinal Dave

  13. may I know that sir “What is the query for fire a trigger by fetching the system time?” or “I want to fire a trigger at a particular time “……….@@@@@@@@@

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