Using Sun Fire Servers During a Transition to Cloud Computing
Information technology (IT) configurations play a crucial role in the success of a business, not only because most businesses would fail if their IT systems went away, but also because businesses that invest too much into their IT configurations will be unable to generate a profit. Four emerging trends in the IT field target cost cutting and an increase in efficiency: virtualization, standards-based architectures, demands for high-speed connectivity, and cloud computing. The trend that not only maximizes efficiency and flexibility but also helps companies reduce hardware costs is cloud computing. It is becoming more and more common for business owners to ask IT professionals for help in implementing a cloud computing configuration, but it takes multiple years to establish a proper configuration.
In the meantime, companies can use Sun Fire servers to facilitate the transition to a virtualization or cloud computing arrangement. Sun Fire servers were released by Sun Microsystems back in 2001 and were built with the also newly released UltraSPARC III processor. As Sun grew the product line, these servers would be produced in both SPARC-based and x86-64 based forms. While new servers are no longer being produced, the capabilities offered by used Sun servers are in line with what one might find in a recently manufactured server from another brand. The added benefit of using used Sun servers to ease the transition to a cloud computing infrastructure is that they are less than half the cost of a new server.
The term “cloud computing” has been used several times in this article, but it has never been properly defined. A cloud computing infrastructure generally is identifiable by its:
- Flexible Costs – Operational costs are billed on a monthly/annually or other per-use basis.
- Elastic Scalability – It is much easier to increase or decrease the storage or processing capacity.
- Geographic and Hardware Independence – Depending on the type of service that is desired, applications and even hardware are located virtually, off-site.
Cloud services vary in terms of what capabilities are being outsourced. Typically cloud services are defined in one of three ways:
- Software as a Service (SaaS) – In this configuration, full programs are offered on a subscription or pay-per-use basis to multiple users over a shared environment. Companies can free up space in used Sun servers for crucial information by locating software on the cloud rather than on in-house servers.
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) – In this arrangement, storage capacity, databases, and even servers like Sun Fire servers are located off-site, with companies paying to use or access them. Disaster recover and archiving services are also categorized as IaaS.
- Platform as a Service (PaaS) – Developers use this service when they need access to application development or a production environment, with buyers typically paying for processor and memory capacity.
A cloud computing infrastructure takes years to build, so it is best to work in steps. A company might start with software virtualization, operating rented programs on used Sun servers, before experimenting with an IaaS. By gradually experimenting with IaaS, SaaS, and PaaS when financial resources are available, a company can over time build an infrastructure that meets its IT needs.
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