NIST Guide Helps Dispel Cloud Mysteries

By Robert Gelber

May 31, 2012

Cloud services have increased accessibility to high power resources that were typically available only to large enterprises and government facilities. While the financial and technological advantages may be obvious, underlying structures that form cloud services can be mystifying to the end user. The confusion has prompted the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to release Special Publication 800-146, “Cloud Computing Synopsis and Recommendations.” The document, a follow up to the official NIST cloud definition published last October, provides additional insight and guidance for the community. To follow is an overview of the NIST report, including charts sourced from that publication.

Definition and Terms of Service

According to NIST:

Cloud computing is a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources (e.g., networks, servers, storage, applications, and services) that can be rapidly provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.

The definition is rather wide, but there are certain traits encompassed by all cloud services, which include:

  • On-demand, self-serving access
  • Network accessibility
  • Resource Pooling
  • Rapid Elasticity
  • Measured Service

Most providers assure minimum levels of availability and agree in advance to repercussions if those levels are not met. They also discuss data preservation and privacy practices, usually promising not to sell or disclose private information.

Cloud services may experience a number of events, which affect overall user experience. Some examples include security breaches, scheduled outages, changes to service agreements, network failures or natural disasters.

Users are often subject to a use policy, guaranteeing third-party software conforms to license terms and timely payment for services rendered.

Deployment Models

Cloud environments are defined based on hardware location and owner. Private clouds are accessible only to a respective customer residing either on-site or be outsourced by a third party.

The same scenarios apply to community clouds as well, where on-site implementations are spread across the user base.

Public clouds are hosted off-site and owned by a third party.

 

 

Finally, hybrid clouds consist of multiple cloud models residing both on-site and off the premises.

 

 

Environments – IaaS, PaaS, SaaS

Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) providers give users access to virtual machines, network storage and services such as firewalls. Billing is usually based on hourly usage of CPU cycles, data storage and bandwidth consumption. Other options may be added to this model, including monitoring and scaling services.

Cloud providers retain control over hardware and the hypervisor while users control the application layer.

The Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) model allows the provider to retain further control of the environment. Users no longer have operating system control, but they can utilize an interface in the middleware layer to access compute power and storage. Application developers are common users of this type of service.

 

At the highest level, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) providers usually deliver Web-based services. Users have limited access at the application layer, giving the service provider almost all control of the environment. Examples include Dropbox and SoundHound.

Potential Issues

While cloud services can provide unique benefits to the user, they are susceptible to a number of issues. Some of these challenges are not exclusive to cloud technology.

Performance can be hindered by high latency, loss of network connectivity and unexpected downtime. The technology relies on networks, thus its capabilities can be augmented or diminished depending on bandwidth to the end user. Even if the network is functioning, service providers may experience an outage due to a number of reasons listed earlier. Cloud users may benefit from implementing an alternative course of action if such an outage were to occur.

Another point of concern regards the physical location of data. Providers typically choose where to locate data based on a number of factors. These include local infrastructure, labor costs, energy costs, as well as legal requirements.

NIST pointed to Web browsers as a major security concern. Most cloud providers require users to register or access their services through a Web browser. While the process if fairly common, browsers have become susceptible to a number of security flaws. If a user’s browser has been compromised, data passed between their workstation and a cloud service, could be captured by an outside party.

Recommendations

The authors of the report supplied a number of general recommendations ranging from cloud management to software and applications.

Users were encouraged to identify services that would benefit from cloud migration. Common examples include email, shared documents and virtualized systems. NIST suggested that any mission critical applications and services remain local to the user unless a provider is willing to pay for pre-defined damages.

To avoid “lock-in” the report prompted users to verify data portability prior to adopting a cloud provider. Suggestions were also made to ensure data integrity, including separation of sensitive information.

Security and reliability was another area the report focused on. Users could hold providers accountable by providing necessary benchmarks prior to migration. If these benchmarks are acceptable and a decision is made to adopt a cloud provider, browser security and strong encryption are necessary to reduce vulnerabilities.

The specifics of cloud services typically mystify most users, as providers and infrastructures exist in a number of forms and combinations. The NIST report has made a concentrated effort to deliver more awareness to the range of services, benefits and barriers surrounding the technology as a whole.

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

HOKUSAI’s BigWaterfall Cluster Extends RIKEN’s Supercomputing Performance

February 21, 2018

RIKEN, Japan’s largest comprehensive research institution, recently expanded the capacity and capabilities of its HOKUSAI supercomputer, a key resource managed by the institution’s Advanced Center for Computing and C Read more…

By Ken Strandberg

Neural Networking Shows Promise in Earthquake Monitoring

February 21, 2018

A team of Harvard University and MIT researchers report their new neural networking method for monitoring earthquakes is more accurate and orders of magnitude faster than traditional approaches. Read more…

By John Russell

HPE Wins $57 Million DoD Supercomputing Contract

February 20, 2018

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) today revealed details of its massive $57 million HPC contract with the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). The deal calls for HPE to provide the DoD High Performance Computing Modernizatio Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Experience Memory & Storage Solutions that will Transform Your Data Performance

High performance computing (HPC) has revolutionized the way we harness insight, leading to a dramatic increase in both the size and complexity of HPC systems. Read more…

Topological Quantum Superconductor Progress Reported

February 20, 2018

Overcoming sensitivity to decoherence is a persistent stumbling block in efforts to build effective quantum computers. Now, a group of researchers from Chalmers University of Technology (Sweden) report progress in devisi Read more…

By John Russell

HOKUSAI’s BigWaterfall Cluster Extends RIKEN’s Supercomputing Performance

February 21, 2018

RIKEN, Japan’s largest comprehensive research institution, recently expanded the capacity and capabilities of its HOKUSAI supercomputer, a key resource manage Read more…

By Ken Strandberg

Neural Networking Shows Promise in Earthquake Monitoring

February 21, 2018

A team of Harvard University and MIT researchers report their new neural networking method for monitoring earthquakes is more accurate and orders of magnitude faster than traditional approaches. Read more…

By John Russell

HPE Wins $57 Million DoD Supercomputing Contract

February 20, 2018

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) today revealed details of its massive $57 million HPC contract with the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). The deal calls for HP Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Fluid HPC: How Extreme-Scale Computing Should Respond to Meltdown and Spectre

February 15, 2018

The Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities are proving difficult to fix, and initial experiments suggest security patches will cause significant performance penal Read more…

By Pete Beckman

Brookhaven Ramps Up Computing for National Security Effort

February 14, 2018

Last week, Dan Coats, the director of Director of National Intelligence for the U.S., warned the Senate Intelligence Committee that Russia was likely to meddle in the 2018 mid-term U.S. elections, much as it stands accused of doing in the 2016 Presidential election. Read more…

By John Russell

AI Cloud Competition Heats Up: Google’s TPUs, Amazon Building AI Chip

February 12, 2018

Competition in the white hot AI (and public cloud) market pits Google against Amazon this week, with Google offering AI hardware on its cloud platform intended Read more…

By Doug Black

Russian Nuclear Engineers Caught Cryptomining on Lab Supercomputer

February 12, 2018

Nuclear scientists working at the All-Russian Research Institute of Experimental Physics (RFNC-VNIIEF) have been arrested for using lab supercomputing resources to mine crypto-currency, according to a report in Russia’s Interfax News Agency. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

The Food Industry’s Next Journey — from Mars to Exascale

February 12, 2018

Global food producer and one of the world's leading chocolate companies Mars Inc. has a unique perspective on the impact that exascale computing will have on the food industry. Read more…

By Scott Gibson, Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Inventor Claims to Have Solved Floating Point Error Problem

January 17, 2018

"The decades-old floating point error problem has been solved," proclaims a press release from inventor Alan Jorgensen. The computer scientist has filed for and Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Japan Unveils Quantum Neural Network

November 22, 2017

The U.S. and China are leading the race toward productive quantum computing, but it's early enough that ultimate leadership is still something of an open questi Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AMD Showcases Growing Portfolio of EPYC and Radeon-based Systems at SC17

November 13, 2017

AMD’s charge back into HPC and the datacenter is on full display at SC17. Having launched the EPYC processor line in June along with its MI25 GPU the focus he Read more…

By John Russell

Researchers Measure Impact of ‘Meltdown’ and ‘Spectre’ Patches on HPC Workloads

January 17, 2018

Computer scientists from the Center for Computational Research, State University of New York (SUNY), University at Buffalo have examined the effect of Meltdown Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IBM Begins Power9 Rollout with Backing from DOE, Google

December 6, 2017

After over a year of buildup, IBM is unveiling its first Power9 system based on the same architecture as the Department of Energy CORAL supercomputers, Summit a Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Nvidia Responds to Google TPU Benchmarking

April 10, 2017

Nvidia highlights strengths of its newest GPU silicon in response to Google's report on the performance and energy advantages of its custom tensor processor. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Fast Forward: Five HPC Predictions for 2018

December 21, 2017

What’s on your list of high (and low) lights for 2017? Volta 100’s arrival on the heels of the P100? Appearance, albeit late in the year, of IBM’s Power9? Read more…

By John Russell

Russian Nuclear Engineers Caught Cryptomining on Lab Supercomputer

February 12, 2018

Nuclear scientists working at the All-Russian Research Institute of Experimental Physics (RFNC-VNIIEF) have been arrested for using lab supercomputing resources to mine crypto-currency, according to a report in Russia’s Interfax News Agency. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Leading Solution Providers

Chip Flaws ‘Meltdown’ and ‘Spectre’ Loom Large

January 4, 2018

The HPC and wider tech community have been abuzz this week over the discovery of critical design flaws that impact virtually all contemporary microprocessors. T Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Perspective: What Really Happened at SC17?

November 22, 2017

SC is over. Now comes the myriad of follow-ups. Inboxes are filled with templated emails from vendors and other exhibitors hoping to win a place in the post-SC thinking of booth visitors. Attendees of tutorials, workshops and other technical sessions will be inundated with requests for feedback. Read more…

By Andrew Jones

How Meltdown and Spectre Patches Will Affect HPC Workloads

January 10, 2018

There have been claims that the fixes for the Meltdown and Spectre security vulnerabilities, named the KPTI (aka KAISER) patches, are going to affect applicatio Read more…

By Rosemary Francis

GlobalFoundries, Ayar Labs Team Up to Commercialize Optical I/O

December 4, 2017

GlobalFoundries (GF) and Ayar Labs, a startup focused on using light, instead of electricity, to transfer data between chips, today announced they've entered in Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Tensors Come of Age: Why the AI Revolution Will Help HPC

November 13, 2017

Thirty years ago, parallel computing was coming of age. A bitter battle began between stalwart vector computing supporters and advocates of various approaches to parallel computing. IBM skeptic Alan Karp, reacting to announcements of nCUBE’s 1024-microprocessor system and Thinking Machines’ 65,536-element array, made a public $100 wager that no one could get a parallel speedup of over 200 on real HPC workloads. Read more…

By John Gustafson & Lenore Mullin

Flipping the Flops and Reading the Top500 Tea Leaves

November 13, 2017

The 50th edition of the Top500 list, the biannual publication of the world’s fastest supercomputers based on public Linpack benchmarking results, was released Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

V100 Good but not Great on Select Deep Learning Aps, Says Xcelerit

November 27, 2017

Wringing optimum performance from hardware to accelerate deep learning applications is a challenge that often depends on the specific application in use. A benc Read more…

By John Russell

SC17: Singularity Preps Version 3.0, Nears 1M Containers Served Daily

November 1, 2017

Just a few months ago about half a million jobs were being run daily using Singularity containers, the LBNL-founded container platform intended for HPC. That wa Read more…

By John Russell

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Share This