Cloud Based Architectures (CBA)

July 23, 2008 at 8:53 pm Leave a comment

With so much hype about cloud computing, the question that many architects are thinking about is how do I go about building a product or application in the cloud? How do I start? What do I do? What challenges need to be overcome? Well, whereas this post does not go into answering all these questions (at Patni, we provide a methodical approach for ISVs and enterprise customers to embrace cloud computing based on assessments and interviews), I will aim to talk about cloud based architectures and what it means to be leveraging the cloud in your architecture.

So what exactly is CBA? It is a software architecture that utilizes Web based on-demand services such that utilization of infrastructure and compute power can grow or shrink based on a myriad of factors such as server load, etc. CBA mean that you only pay for infrastructure and storage that you actually use rather than paying a flat monthly fee for a limited amount of resources.

The next question to ask is why CBA? What business problem are we solving here. As per my previous post, provisioning and configuring servers before deploying, testing and migrating your product or application to production has been, and continues to be a long and arduous task for IT departments. In addition, server maintenance, management and monitoring take up a lot of time, money and cost just to keep the lights running. Also, with many servers in a data center, enterprise customers are not making the most utilization of these servers (yes, virtualization does help here). In addition, most startups and consumers do not have access to vast pools of money to build and host their product on these expensive, clustered servers. That is where leveraging cloud vendors to build cloud based products can be game changing.

The next question is how? How does one utilize the power of the cloud on-demand, when needed to scale up or down, ensuring that they are not wasting money and people on idling servers and thereby reducing their overall cost of ownership? The answer is via APIs or Web based services. The complexity and reliability issues with invoking these services are hidden away (in the cloud) from the consumer of these services. All you care about is that when you invoke the service, that the service does what it needs to (provide you a new server, more memory, CPU, storage or whatever) and that when you are done, it does all the hard work of tearing things down and cleaning up after you…all for very reasonable rates – much cheaper than you managing and maintaining all this yourself. How powerful is that?

So in summary, one can see that there are many potential benefits of CBAs:

  • Minimal upfront costs for infrastructure and manpower
  • Faster time to market by focusing on your core competency
  • Scalable, on-demand infrastructure as and when you needed it
  • Pay-per-use costing structure
  • Parallel processing across the cloud

These are just some of the generic advantages of CBAs. When you dig deeper and focus on ISVs and enterprise customers, there are many more. It should also be noted that there are many potential pitfalls as well. Designing and deploying in the cloud means thinking through a variety of issues around performance, data security, data partitioning, scalability, business models, and much much more.

At Patni, we work with both ISVs and enterprise customers to help them build products and applications in the cloud, while helping them understand these potential architectural, operational and technical issues. I will write much more on the topic of cloud computing and CBA in the coming weeks so stay tuned!

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Entry filed under: cloud computing. Tags: , .

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