Cloud Computing Infrastructure Rough Draft - Please Comment

Sunday, February 15, 2009

I am working on a group paper for my Masters of Science in Management Information Systems. The paper was assigned in my data communication class. I am writing the part of Cloud Computing Infrastructure. Here is a very rough draft. Please comment as I would like to improve it. Thanks:

Cloud Computing Infrastructure

Three core types of clouds have been identified, however the infrastructure behind each of them has not been determined. Companies that offer cloud services regard their cloud infrastructure as trade secrets and actual data would be almost impossible to find and harder to publish. Through research and evaluations of all the different types of clouds identified previously, it can be concluded that all cloud computing platforms follow a similar infrastructure model. The below five layer model for cloud computing infrastructure is proposed:
• Facility or Datacenter
• Network or Connectivity
• Servers
• Storage
• Core Infrastructure

The datacenter or facility must be able to provide the physical infrastructure to host cloud computing. There are many datacenters around the world that offer collocation or space to host your own cloud or that cloud providers lease to build their cloud platforms on. The datacenters are specifically made to provide the appropriate cooling and power for the amount of physical servers and storage required to power the cloud computing platform.

The datacenter must also have connectivity for the networking of the cloud to function correctly. If the connectivity is lacking then there is no “cloud”. Most datacenters have single carriers that provide the connectivity, while there are certain NAPs (Network Access Points) that have datacenter capabilities with carrier neutral connectivity. Apart from having Internet connectivity the internal networking is also crucial to cloud computing. The internal network would include firewalls, routers, switches, and load balancers. A sample environment would have the datacenter connectivity coming into firewalls that are connected to load balancers and core switches. The core switches would then connect to physical servers and be administered by the core infrastructure.

For creating a private or public cloud we can speculate that cloud infrastructure is in clusters. A company would have one or more clusters in a single datacenter and a cluster or more in a datacenter at another location. A cluster could be described as a single cloud. One cluster for a cloud computing provider would have multiple servers, perhaps 16 or 24 servers per cluster. These would be high-powered servers with 8 to 16 cores per server, an extremely high amount of physical memory, perhaps, 80 to 120GB of RAM per server and many gigabit network cards, perhaps 8 NICs (2 for production, 2 for virtualization utilities, 2 for backup, and 2 for connecting to storage).

These extremely powerful servers would connect to the infrastructures storage. The storage solution can be either a SAN (Storage Area Network) or a NAS (Network-Attached Storage). The storage connects to the physical servers through their networking interfaces and special storage switches. These switches can be either iSCSI or fibre channel switches. In and ideal environment, there would be two storage switches and two SANs per cluster. The storage infrastructure is capable of having much more storage capacity than a single server would. For a cloud computing provider, a SAN or NAS between 100 to 200 physical hard drives and a total capacity between 25-50 TB of data would be ideal.

A speculated cloud computing infrastructure can contain between:
• 128 to 384 processing cores
• 1280 to 2880 GB of physical memory
• 128 to 192 Gigabit network cards
• 25 – 50 TB of physical storage

With all this computing power the last thing that would be required is the core infrastructure and software to make it all work together. The physical servers should be running a host based virtual server operating system such as a VMWare ESX server, XEN, or Microsoft HyperV. Many cloud computing providers have developed their own virtualization operating system but the above three are the most common for typical platforms. Depending on the type of operating system the servers have the management module of each would also need to be running from a management server. VMWare has a vcloud and datacenter product that makes the administration of all the virtual servers much easier.


2 Responses to “Cloud Computing Infrastructure Rough Draft - Please Comment”
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I imagine it's hard to get exact specifications for existing cloud infrastructure for the exact reason you mentioned - trade secrets.

I do, however, have a few corrections:

"an extremely high number of physical memory," that should be "high amount"

"or a NAS (Network Area Storage)" NAS is actually Network-Attached Storage.

When referring to fiber optic connectivity, most spell it "fibre" - I don't think it matters unless your professor is a stickler.

On a side not, Wal-Mart recently switched from ESX to HyperV - Microsoft paid them to do it!

February 15, 2009 at 5:14 PM