The Cloud Defined, Part 3 of 8: Resource Pooling

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I am continuing my series of articles where I share my interpretation of the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s special publication 800-145. This week the focus is on the third fundamental characteristic of cloud computing according to the NIST’s definition:

Resource pooling. The provider’s computing resources are pooled to serve multiple consumers using a multi-tenant model, with different physical and virtual resources dynamically assigned and reassigned according to consumer demand. There is a sense of location independence in that the customer generally has no control or knowledge over the exact location of the provided resources but may be able to specify location at a higher level of abstraction (e.g., country, state, or datacenter). Examples of resources include storage, processing, memory, and network bandwidth.

Resource pooling is nothing new, and it is a technique that has existed long before IT did. Roads for public use, public libraries, the stock market, and countless other commonalities are forms of resource pooling. We all pay taxes so that we can collectively build a road for everyone to use. We collect books and media in one location so that any local resident may check out a resource at their convenience. We collectively gather our wealth into various private organizations and then buy and sell shares in a public market in order to generate a profit. Resource pooling works, and has been working, since the beginning of modern times.

Resource pooling within IT is no different. Leveraging that power of several unique units as a single entity increases the potential of each unique unit beyond what it could do in isolation. Pooling servers, storage, network connections, and any technical component to increase your organization’s abilities is an easy decision to make. The benefits are obvious.

Yet there is another less obvious benefit to be gained from resource pooling: efficiency. The example that I like to use is a school bus. We pool our resources to provide a vehicle to bring students back and forth from school. Imagine what the roads would be like if every student had their own vehicle and driver? What kinds of delays would you encounter? How much would your taxes be to provide such a luxury? Resource pooling does not just increase the potential of individual units by combining them, but resource pooling also removes obstacles from those units paths. When your servers are pooled you spend less time supporting and maintaining those resources.

That is the beauty of resource pooling. It has more than one benefit. Resource pooling both increases potential and removes inhibitors from your environment. Cloud systems rely on both of these advantages gained from resource pooling.

That is all for this week, but my interpretation of the NIST’s definition of cloud computing continues with next week’s article! Be sure to return then to learn about another of the fundamental characteristics of cloud computing!

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