What is the Cloud?

The Cloud

In the context of STRIDES, and as it pertains to life science computing, we are using the following definition for the Cloud:

The Cloud refers to computational infrastructure and services that are owned and located off-site by a third-party cloud services provider (CSP), which allows other parties to purchase and use these resources and services on a pay-as-you-go basis.

Examples of commercial CSPs: Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform, Microsoft Azure, Digital Ocean, and Heroku, among others. </div> </div> </section> ## Key Features of the Cloud - Elastic — Resources such as servers, or storage capacity, can be provisioned at will, used for some period of time and then disposed. - Pay-per-use — No upfront costs; fees are incurred only when a service is being used. - Self-service and on-demand — The customer can initiate cloud resources whenever they need them. For the purposes of this initiative, we focus on the Cloud as an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) platform where organizations, or individual researchers, create an account, set up an appropriate payment mechanism and are then able to access and use these infrastructure components as desired. ## In the Cloud You will often hear people say they are using things 'in the cloud.' This typically means they are using packaged services in the cloud — called Software as a Service (SaaS) platforms — such as Dropbox, OneDrive, Gmail, and similar tools. These platforms are almost certainly hosted on cloud infrastructure; STRIDES focuses on the lower-level assembly of cloud building blocks (compute, storage, etc) to build systems to address biomedical use cases. ### Common Cloud Computing Components Across the Main CSPs Component | Description | Amazon Web Serices | Google | Microsoft Azure ------------ | ------------- | ------------ | ------------ | ------------ Compute | Servers of various sizes and capabilities | [Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2)](https://aws.amazon.com/ec2/){: .external-link} | [Compute Engine](https://cloud.google.com/compute/){: .external-link} | [Virtual Machines](https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/services/virtual-machines/){: .external-link} Disk Storage | Disks that can be attached to compute instances | [Elastic Block Store (EBS)](https://aws.amazon.com/ebs/){: .external-link} | [Persistent Disk](https://cloud.google.com/persistent-disk/){: .external-link} | [Disk Storage](https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/services/storage/disks/){: .external-link} Object Storage | File storage | [Simple Storage Service (S3)](https://aws.amazon.com/s3/){: .external-link} | [Cloud Storage](https://cloud.google.com/storage/){: .external-link} | [Blob Storage](https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/services/storage/blobs/){: .external-link} Archive Storage | Long-term archival file storage | [Glacier](https://aws.amazon.com/glacier/){: .external-link} | [Cloud Storage - Coldline](https://cloud.google.com/storage/){: .external-link} | [Archive Storage](https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/services/storage/archive/){: .external-link} ## Implications of the Cloud Model * Data movement and importance of the network * Cost models (monthly, based on usage) * Risks/Implications * Need guardrails * Ability to run up bills * Security * Easy to begin (appropriate IT knowledge, sysadmin skills, development skills, are needed plus specific cloud architecture and distributed system skills) * Cloud environments are always evolving so staying up to date can be challenging