Understanding the fundamentals of a Cloud Computing Architecture
With cloud computing becoming more popular these days, a good understanding of fundamental cloud architecture has become a paramount skill needed by various professionals such as software engineers, data scientists, IT specialists, and some non-technical professionals. Creating a cloud environment can be a tasking job, especially for those with little knowledge about cloud services. Here, we will look at the basic knowledge required to construct a cloud environment.
What is Cloud Architecture?
Cloud architecture can be defined as the combination of various technological components that make up a cloud system. This usually involves using virtualization technology to put together several resources and share them across a network. Cloud architecture also talks about the relationship between the various components of a cloud system and the benefits they deliver. These components form the cloud computing architecture that applications can run on, thus allowing end-users to leverage the power of cloud resources. They include:
- A front-end platform (The client or device used to access the cloud)
- A back-end platform (servers and storage)
- A cloud-based delivery model
- A network
Fundamental components of Cloud Architecture
The fundamental components of cloud architecture include:
- Virtualization – This involves the virtual representation of physical resources such as servers or storage. This virtualization of resources is employed in building cloud networks and enables the utilization of the same physical resources by multiple applications. This increases the efficiency of networking, storage, and servers throughout the establishment.
- Infrastructure – These include all the physical components of data centers such as servers, storage, and networking gear such as routers and switches, etc.
- Middleware - These are software components that enable networked software, applications, and computers to communicate with each other. Examples of middleware include databases and communication applications.
- Management – These are tools that are used to continually monitor the performance and capacity of a cloud environment. These tools allow the tracking, usage, integration, deployment of new apps, and data recovery in the cloud environment, all from one console.
- Automation software – When there are situations such as a rise in the need for computing power or fluctuating market demands, automation can be employed to scale up the system resources to accommodate the spike, deploy applications, and can even be used for proper governance in a cloud system. Automation of IT services lessens the workload, reduces costs, and allows for streamlining of application delivery.
Core Concepts of Cloud Architecture
Cloud architects build cloud environments around 4 core concepts of cloud architecture. These include:
- Cloud infrastructure is the compute, storage, and network systems that cloud services run on. This concept takes advantage of virtualization in creating several resources that can be managed with a program.
- Cloud delivery model: This includes the front-end and the back-end systems of the cloud platform. Front-end systems gain access to the cloud environment using the internet or a Virtual Private Network (VPN) link with a mobile app, web browser, or client-based software. The back-end includes the various cloud infrastructure resources, applications, and data. Delivery is usually done from several data centers to increase availability and data recovery.
- Cloud service model: This is the type of service rendered. They include IaaS, PaaS, or SaaS.
- IaaS stands for Infrastructure as a Service. This model provides the necessary infrastructure for cloud computing, eliminating the need to purchase servers, storage devices, or networks. Also, the software and applications are managed by the organization.
- PaaS stands for Platform as a Service and helps in the building, creation, and management of applications. This model offers a computing platform that allows organizations to build upon to create applications or services as a service. This model involves the provision of servers, networks, and storage for hosting applications. The end-user utilizes all these in configuration settings and software deployment. Example Microsoft Azure.
- SaaS stands for Software as a Service. This model host and manages end-user applications. Here, there’s no need to deploy applications and software locally. They are delivered and maintained over the internet and usually need a web interface to be accessed. Example Google.
- Cloud deployment model: This talks about the access and governance of the cloud platform. They include private cloud, public cloud, hybrid cloud, and multi-cloud.
Benefits of Cloud Architecture
The main reason behind the popularity of cloud computing architecture and why it is preferred among firms and establishments is the elimination of the capital expenditure involved in using an on-premise server, storage, and networking infrastructure. Cloud architecture allows organizations such as UAE-based logistics companies to shift their IT resources to the public cloud.
Thus, replacing the need, cost, and stress involved in powering and cooling the on-premise IT data center real estate with a monthly IT expenditure used in maintaining the cloud system. This offers a more cost-effective means of data storage and management for the organization. Other benefits include:
- It solves latency issues and improves data processing requirements
- It helps businesses to easily scale up scale down cloud resources
- It encourages remote working and promotes team collaboration
- It automatically updates its services
- It results in better disaster recovery and provides high security
- It gives businesses a competitive advantage
Why adopt Cloud Architecture?
The following are some of the major reasons you should adopt cloud architecture and computing services for your organization.
- Acceleration of digital transformation and modern applications using cloud-native architecture such as Kubernetes.
- To accelerate the delivery of new applications
- Enabling faster resources provision
- It helps you consistently meet service targets
- It allows for real-time scalability for applications to accommodate changing business needs, using hybrid cloud architecture.
- Improves transparency of resources, thereby cutting costs and preventing data breaches.
- It also ensures compliance with the latest regulations
- It allows you to gain insight into IT spending patterns and cloud utilization, using cloud reference architecture.
How does Cloud Architecture work?
Cloud networks differ, and no two networks can be said to be alike. However, several cloud architectural models are employed. These include public cloud architecture, private cloud architecture, hybrid cloud architecture, and Multi-cloud architecture. Let us now look into them briefly:
- Public cloud architecture – Here, the cloud service provider owns and runs the computing resources, which they share and redistribute across several tenants through the internet. Advantages include reduced operating cost, little or no maintenance, and easy scalability.
- Private cloud architecture – in this model, the cloud is owned and managed by a private establishment, usually in their on-premise data center. However, the servers can be located in several server locations scattered geographically. This model is more expensive than the public model but offers more stringent data security and compliance options and is more customizable.
- Hybrid cloud architecture – This combines both the public and private models, thus incorporating the operating efficiencies of the public model into the data security feature of the private model. This combination helps the consolidation of IT resources and shifting workloads by organizations, between different environments depending on the data security and IT requirements.
- Multi-cloud architecture – A multi-cloud cloud architecture uses several public cloud services. This gives the organization the ability to choose the cloud service option that best suits their organizational needs This model also allows the organization to rely less on a single cloud service vendor. Thus, increasing cost savings and reducing vendor lock-in likelihood. Also, this model can be used to support services that exist on multiple clouds, such as microservices-based containerized applications.
Best practices of Cloud Architecture and Conclusion
Having a cloud architecture goes beyond being a necessity for technology. This combination of components also brings about lowered operating costs, satisfied end-users, and high-performing applications. To get the best result from your cloud investment and secure its future, you must abide by a few practices. Some best practices in cloud architecture include:
- Up-front planning – This is vital to determine the capacity needs of the organization before embarking on any cloud project. Continuous tests are also needed in building cloud systems to test performance and avoid any unforeseen glitches and technical difficulties when using the cloud system.
- Security first – The security of your cloud system, when compromised, can be very disastrous to the organization. Hence, it is very paramount that you ensure the security of your cloud environment by protecting all cloud architecture layers from hackers and unauthorized users. This can be achieved using data encryption, rigid policies, patch management, and zero-trust models on all layers within a cloud infrastructure, and on hybrid and multi-cloud enterprises, to confer high levels of security on them.
- Ensure disaster recovery – Efficient and speedy recovery from breaks in service is needed to avoid costly downtimes. This can be achieved by automating recovery processes and monitoring the capacity of the infrastructure using a redundant network to achieve an architecture with high availability.
- Maximize performance – Proper management and maximizing of computing resources are needed to get the best results in your cloud architecture. Continuous monitoring of the demands and technology needs of the business is also necessary to ensure maximum performance of cloud architecture.
- Cut costs – Cost-efficiency is a crucial part of every business plan. As such, there’s a need to ensure that setting up the cloud architecture is done at the lowest possible cost. This can be achieved using automation, controlled service providers, and utilization tracking, which eliminates unnecessary expenses arising from cloud computing.