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A Brief view of the different layers that define Cloud Architecture

Cloud Architecture

What is Cloud Architecture?

In a generalized way, we can classify the cloud architecture into two ends i.e. front end and the back end. The front end is the one with which the end users interact. The back end is one with which the cloud provider has to deal.

Both of these endpoints are linked to one another via the internet. The Internet is the most important component of cloud computing since every user needs it in order to access the cloud. Now let us get into the details of both of these ends in the section ahead.

Front End

The front end of the cloud architecture consists of applications and interfaces. They are required to access cloud-based services. The main and the only component of the front end is the cloud infrastructure.

The infrastructure consists of hardware resources that have the capability to connect to the internet such as mobile devices, tablets, and laptops. The applications used for initiating access to the cloud are web browsers like:

  • Microsoft Edge

  • Google Chrome

  • Firefox, etc.

Back End

The back end of the cloud architecture consists of several components as discussed below.

  • Applications – Provides software or the platform that the client actually wants to access. The clients can access these applications with the help of the resources present at the back end.

  • Services – This component is responsible for providing utility to the cloud architecture. The most popular services used among the end users are:

    • Storage Applications

    • Development Environments

    • Web Services

  • Storage – This component of the back-end stores and also maintains the client’s data. Such as files, images, audio, video, etc. The client’s data reaches the storage via the internet. Some of the popular cloud storage services are:

    • Google Drive

    • One Drive

    • Dropbox, etc.

  • Management – The main task of this component is to establish the coordination between all the components of the cloud architecture.

  • Security – It is the primary concern of every technological architecture. It is responsible for providing security to the cloud resources.

Layers of Cloud Architecture

If we consider the users’ access to the cloud then depending on the user’s liberty to access cloud entities, we can classify the cloud architecture into four layers.

Layer 1 (User/ Client Layer)

It is the topmost layer of cloud architecture. The actors of this layer are the end users and the clients. The clients are the devices that can either be a thick client, a thin client, or a mobile device capable of accessing the web application.

Here a thick client is a computer that is capable of working independently. It is the one with adequate processing capability. Whereas, the thin client is the one with the low processing capability. It depends on another device for complete functionality.

At layer 1, the user and client initiate to connect themselves to the cloud. Accessing cloud applications is similar to accessing web applications.

Access to both types of applications requires the internet or other computer networks. Although the internal properties of the cloud application are different from web applications. Hence, we require layer 1 to set up the connection between the user/client and the cloud.

Layer 2 (Network Layer)

Layer 2 or the network layer is responsible for connecting users to the cloud. The absence of a network layer wouldn’t work for the cloud. Because the entire infrastructure of the cloud depends on the connection where it offers the services to the users.

For accessing the public cloud we make connections using the internet. For accessing the private cloud, the connectivity is established using the local area network, i.e. (LAN). Each kind of connection requires a minimum bandwidth specified by the cloud providers.

However, the network layer is beyond the cloud SLA i.e. service level agreement. SLA promises a minimum level of services to cloud customers. SLA does not consider the connection between the cloud and the user for quality of service (QoS).

Layer 3 (Cloud Management Layer)

The layer is responsible for managing the cloud services. It includes the software that manages the working of the cloud. The software used at this layer can be:

  • Cloud OS (Operating System)

  • Software is responsible for creating an interface between the cloud and its users.

  • Software for managing the resources.

The software at the cloud management layer is responsible for:

  • Managing resources (scheduling the cloud services, provisioning resources, etc.)

  • Optimization (Server consolidation i.e. reducing the total number of servers of the company by making efficient use of server resources, workload consolidation i.e. integrating multiple computational operations onto fewer platforms, storage consolidation i.e. centralizing the data storage and minimizing the time required to access data)

  • Internal cloud governance, the network layer comes under close surveillance of SLA. Thus, the operations that take place at this layer will affect the agreement that SLA decides between the cloud users and the providers.

So, a delay in connecting to the cloud would also result in a violation of SLA. In such cases, the providers have to pay penalties. The SLA purviews are both public and private and could for any violation.

Layer 4 (Hardware Resource Layer)

It defines the provision of hardware resources. The massive data centre is Layer 4 of a public cloud. Layer 4 of the private cloud is built with a massive collection of hardware resources. These resources are interrelated and may be present in a given area or in a high configuration system.

The hardware resource layer comes under the purview of service layer agreements (SLAs). SLAs are even governed by the layer. As previously noted, the user must be able to access cloud services as quickly as feasible. If there occurs any discrepancy in the provisioning of the hardware resources then the provider might have to pay the penalty.

As a result, any cloud architecture's physical resource layer must include data centres with high-speed network connections. The data centre must have a highly efficient algorithm for transferring data from the data centre to the management.

numerous data centres can exist within a single cloud, and numerous clouds might share a single data centre.

So that's a tiered description of cloud architecture. This layering must be followed by every cloud architecture. However, depending on the type of cloud that we are deploying, the difference between layers 3 and 4 may be diluted slightly.

Types of Cloud Architecture

Cloud computing is a game-changing technology that is transforming the way data is stored, accessed, and analysed. It simply refers to the transfer of computer resources across the Internet, such as servers, storage, databases, software, and applications. Rather of depending on physical infrastructure, cloud computing saves and processes data over a network of distant computer systems stored on the internet.

To protect your data from unauthorised access, cloud service providers employ advanced security methods such as encryption, firewalls, and access limitations. Furthermore, because your data is kept in the cloud, it is safe even if your local devices are destroyed, misplaced, or stolen. Redundancy and cloud backups ensure that your data can be recovered quickly and effectively in the event of an unforeseen event.

The cloud architecture may be classified into the following kinds based on the rationale for its deployment.

  1. Public Cloud

  2. Private Cloud

  3. Hybrid Cloud

  4. Community Cloud

  5. Multi Cloud

1. Public Cloud

The public cloud enables anybody to store and retrieve data via the Internet using a pay-per-use basis. The Cloud Service Provider (CSP) manages and operates computer resources in the public cloud. The CSP manages the supporting infrastructure and guarantees that the resources are available to and scalable for consumers.

Because of its open design, anybody with an internet connection, regardless of location or corporate size, may access the public cloud. Users can access the CSP's many services, save data, and run apps. Customers can be certain that they will only be paid for the resources they really use when employing a pay-per-usage plan, which is a wise financial decision.

Amazon elastic compute cloud (EC2), IBM SmartCloud Enterprise, Microsoft, Google App Engine, and Windows Azure Services Platform are a few examples.

Characteristics of Public Cloud

If you're looking for a unique way to express yourself, here is the place to be:

  • Accessibility

  • Shared Infrastructure

  • Scalability

  • Pay-per-Usage

  • Managed by Service Providers

  • Reliability and Redundancy

  • Security Measures

2. Private Cloud

Private clouds are often referred to as internal clouds or business clouds. Organisations use it to create and run their own data centres internally or through a third party. Opensource technologies such as Openstack and Eucalyptus can be used to deploy it.

VMware vSphere, OpenStack, Microsoft Azure Stack, Oracle Cloud at Customer, and IBM Cloud Private are other examples.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) divides private cloud into two categories based on location and management:

  • On-premise private cloud: An on-premise private cloud resides within an organization's physical infrastructure, providing exclusive cloud services for internal use. This setup grants full control to the organization, allowing customization and control over security and compliance. Yet, it requires substantial investments in hardware, software, and IT expertise for setup and management.

  • Outsourced private cloud: Outsourced private clouds involve partnering with a third-party provider to manage cloud infrastructure. This setup leverages the provider's expertise and resources, freeing organizations from infrastructure management. It offers scalability and flexibility, making it attractive for businesses seeking private cloud benefits without upfront costs or ongoing maintenance.

When compared to public cloud choices, on-premise and external private clouds provide organisations with greater control over their data, apps, and security. Private clouds are ideal for organisations with stringent regulatory needs, sensitive data, or specialised workloads that necessitate high levels of customisation and security.

Characteristics of Private Cloud

The following are the primary characteristics of the private cloud:

  • Exclusive Use

  • Control and Security

  • Customization and Flexibility

  • Scalability and Resource Allocation

  • Performance and dependability

  • Compliance and Regulatory Requirements

  • Hybrid Cloud Integratio

3. Hybrid Cloud

The hybrid cloud is a hybrid of the public and private clouds. We can state:

Hybrid Cloud = Public Cloud + Private Cloud

If you're looking for a one-of-a-kind gift, here is the place to be. Companies may create a flexible and scalable computing environment by combining the advantages of public and private clouds in a hybrid cloud architecture. The public cloud component enables the use of cloud services supplied by third-party companies and accessible over the Internet.

Example: Google Application Suite (Gmail, Google Apps, and Google Drive), Office 365 (MS Office on the Web and OneDrive), and Amazon Web Services are a few examples.

Characteristics of Hybrid Cloud

  • Integration of Public and Private Clouds

  • Flexibility and Scalability

  • Enhanced Security and Control

  • Cost Optimization

  • Data and Application Portability

  • Compliance and Regulatory Compliance

  • Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity

4. Community Cloud

A community cloud connects a collection of organisations to systems and services to share information between the firm and a specified community. One or more community groups, a third party, or a combination of these own, manage, and administrate it.

A community cloud setup entails member organisations from the same industry, government sector, or any other community collaborating to establish a shared cloud infrastructure. They may use this infrastructure to gain access to community-relevant shared services, apps, and data.

Characteristics of Community Cloud

  • Shared Infrastructure

  • Community-specific Services

  • Community Ownership and Management

  • Enhanced Security and Compliance

  • Cost Sharing and Efficiency

  • Collaboration and Knowledge Sharing

  • Scalability and Flexibility

5. Multi-Cloud

Multi-cloud is a cloud computing approach in which businesses use more than one cloud service provider or platform to suit their computing demands. It entails spreading workloads, applications, and statistics across several cloud environments, including public, private, and hybrid clouds.

Adopting a multi-cloud strategy enables organisations to pick and exploit the most appropriate cloud services from several providers based on their individual requirements. This allows businesses to take use of each provider's unique skills and services, reducing the risk of depending entirely on one source while benefiting from competitive pricing structures.

Examples: Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP).

Characteristics of Multi-cloud

  • Multiple Cloud Providers

  • Diversification and Risk Reduction

  • Flexibility and Vendor Independence

  • Optimisation of Services and Costs

  • Enhanced Reliability and Performance

  • Data Sovereignty and Compliance

  • Interoperability and Integration

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