Understanding Cloud Computing Platform Technology

Fri 12 February 2021, Arief Rakhmatsyah
Understanding Cloud Technology

As cloud computing has boomed in the implementation as well as popularity, so have the ways in which Indonesian businesses use this technology to meet their needs. Cloud computing terminology appeared as early as 1996, with the first known mention in a Compaq internal document. Cloud computing service running on virtual machine (VM) technology. VM is the virtualization/emulation of a computer system based on computer architectures and provide functionality of a physical computer. Ancient type of VM starting at 1960s and continue to be areas of active development. Starting from software virtualization that simulates enough hardware to allow “guest” OS (one designed for the same instruction set) to be run in isolation, then become hardware-assisted virtualization starting in 1970s, where the hardware provides architectural support that facilitates building a virtual machine monitor and allows guest OSes to be run in isolation.

This article is intended to provide you with simple explanation on cloud technology for both public and private cloud service purpose without any difficult technical terms and jargon. I will also share on the way this technology being utilized by cloud service provider including Telkomtelstra as a local public cloud provider.

Cloud Technology and Service Purpose

There are several cloud platform technologies dominant or popular in market for both public cloud and private cloud with 3 categories of purpose: global public cloud provider, local public cloud provider, and private cloud.

Note: In some country, probably there is no local public cloud provider caused by high domination of global public cloud provider in their market. For this case, there are only 2 categories of purpose: public cloud and private cloud.

Global public cloud or local public cloud provider mainly sell infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS) for global or local market, respectively.

Note: Services under IaaS category are virtual server/ virtual machine and its derivative such as storage, backup, and container services. IaaS used by IT infra peoples in customer site.

Services under PaaS category such as database service, IoT platform, API management and app services. PaaS used by developer people in customer site.

Private cloud, in contrary, is cloud platform technology used by customer for internal use. The server usually installed on their premise or it can be collocated in data center provider. Some data center providers probably provide managed private cloud service. Unlike public cloud provider, they rent infrastructure in physical unit rather than virtual unit.

Global public cloud providers start opening Indonesia region in 2020 to provide onshore global public cloud service. Before that time, onshore public cloud services only served by local public cloud providers only using private cloud platform technology configured for multitenancy and equipped with billing system. Besides providing their own local public cloud, most of local cloud providers are partner of global public cloud providers and resell their services for Indonesia market although they are offshore.

How about software as a service (SaaS)? SaaS is a ready-for-use software service mostly provided by third party rather than cloud provider itself. SaaS applications can run on global or local public cloud, on their private cloud, or even on bare metal. This article does not mention about SaaS because we will focus on discussing about cloud technology. Let us explore the cloud platform technology in a glance, order by age based on first launched date.

1. VMWare

Talking modern cloud-service we recognize today, historically related with when VMWare Workstation initial release in May 1999 running on Linux. It enables users to set up virtual machines (VMs) on a single physical machine and use them simultaneously along with the host machine. Each virtual machine can execute its own operating system, including versions of Microsoft Windows, Linux, BSD, and MS-DOS. VMWare entered the server market in 2001. Start building on Linux is smart step from VMWare developer since Linux become popular OS since 1990s and many computer students learn virtualization from there and become familiar with VMWare.

In 2001, VMWare release VMware ESXi, an enterprise-class hypervisor for deploying and serving virtual computers. ESXi is not a software application that is installed on an operating system (OS) anymore, but it includes and integrates vital OS components, such as a kernel.

In 2003, VMware launched VMware Virtual Center, vMotion, and Virtual SMP technology. In May 2013, VMware launched its own IaaS service and in August 2016 VMware introduced the VMware Cloud Provider website as central source of cloud provider technology content. By using this, cloud providers can find differentiated and monetizable services they can deliver leveraging VMware’s platform. VMWare system can be installed on bare metal computer and available in AWS cloud as well (private cloud over public cloud).

PurposePrivate cloud, local public cloud

2. Amazon Web Services (AWS)

The first AWS service launched for public is Simple Queue Service (SQS) to support programmatic sending of messages via web service applications to communicate over the Internet in November 2004, and thereafter the developer team developed the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) service. EC2 allows users to rent virtual computers on which to run their own computer applications.

AWS was officially re-launched in March 2006, combining the three initial service offerings of Amazon S3 cloud storage, SQS, and EC2. The AWS platform finally provided an integrated suite of core online services, as a service offered to other developers, web sites, client-side applications, and companies.

Nowadays AWS provides on-demand cloud computing platforms and APIs to individuals, companies, and governments, on a metered pay-as-you-go basis. These cloud computing web services provide a variety of basic abstract technical infrastructure and distributed computing building blocks and tools. AWS’s version of virtual computers emulates most of the attributes of a real computer, including hardware central processing units (CPUs) and graphics processing units (GPUs) for processing; local/RAM memory; hard disk/SSD storage; a choice of operating systems; networking; and pre-loaded application software such as web servers, databases, and customer relationship management (CRM).

TechnologyAmazon AWS
PurposeGlobal public

3. Alibaba Cloud

Alibaba Cloud is founded in September 2009. R&D centers and operation centers are subsequently opened in Hangzhou, Beijing, and Silicon Valley.

Nowadays, Alibaba Cloud, also known as Aliyun, is a multinational cloud computing company, a subsidiary of Alibaba Group. Alibaba Cloud provides cloud computing services to online businesses and Alibaba’s own e-commerce ecosystem and to be considered is the biggest global public cloud provider behind the big three. While its parent company are based in Hangzhou, China, its international operations are registered and headquartered in the city-state of Singapore.

Alibaba Cloud offers cloud services that are available on a pay-as-you-go basis, and include Elastic Compute, Data Storage, Relational Databases, Big-Data Processing, Anti-DDoS protection and Content Delivery Networks (CDN).

Technology Alibaba Cloud
Purpose Global public cloud
Provider Alibaba

4. Microsoft Azure

Azure was announced at Microsoft’s Professional Developers Conference (PDC) in October 2008, went by the internal project codename “Project Red Dog” to develop a cloud operating system and the result is Windows Azure Platform that formally released in February 2010 and then renamed to Microsoft Azure in 2014.

Nowadays, Microsoft is one of big three global public cloud provider in the world. Azure is a cloud computing service for building, testing, deploying, and managing applications and services through Microsoft-managed data centers. It provides software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS) and infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and supports many different programming languages, tools, and frameworks, including both Microsoft-specific and third-party software and systems.

Technology Microsoft Azure
Purpose Global public cloud
Provider Microsoft

5. OpenStack

OpenStack starts in July 2010, Rackspace Hosting and NASA jointly launched an open-source cloud-software initiative. The mission statement was “to produce the ubiquitous open-source cloud computing platform that will meet the needs of public and private clouds regardless of size, by being simple to implement and massively scalable”.

The OpenStack project intended to help organizations offer cloud-computing services running on standard hardware. The community’s first official release (code-named Austin) appeared three months later 21 October 2010, with plans to release regular updates of the software every few months.

Nowadays OpenStack is a free open standard cloud computing platform, mostly deployed as infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) in both public and private clouds where virtual servers and other resources are made available to users.

OpenStack is most popular and cost-effective cloud platform technology for campuses and small companies’ private cloud. It also most chosen technology by many local cloud providers who want to develop their own brand cloud service.

Technology OpenStack
Purpose Private cloud, local public cloud
Provider Any

6. Google Cloud Platform

In April 2008, Google announced App Engine, a platform for developing and hosting web applications in Google-managed data centers, which was the first cloud computing service from the company. The service became generally available in November 2011. Since the announcement of App Engine, Google added multiple cloud services to the platform.

Nowadays, Google Cloud is one of big three global public cloud provider in the world. Google Cloud Platform (GCP) is a suite of cloud computing services that runs on the same infrastructure that Google uses internally for its end-user products, such as Google Search, Gmail, file storage, and YouTube. Alongside a set of management tools, it provides a series of modular cloud services including computing, data storage, data analytics and machine learning. Google Cloud Platform provides infrastructure as a service, platform as a service, and serverless computing environments.

Technology Google Cloud Platform
Purpose Global public cloud
Provider Google

7. Microsoft Azure Stack Hub

Microsoft announced a new cloud solution and program that enable organizations of all sizes to use the Microsoft cloud platform to transform their business in October 2015. A new, Microsoft Azure-consistent, integrated system for hybrid cloud and extended program offerings will help more customers benefit from Azure to drive greater agility and increased time to value, whether they choose on-premises or public cloud solutions.

In July 2017, Microsoft has announced the launch of general availability of its Azure Stack (now renamed to Azure Stack Hub) through Dell EMC, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and Lenovo.

Azure Stack Hub is an extension of Azure that brings the agility and innovation of cloud computing to your on-premises environment. Deployed on-premises, Azure Stack Hub can be used to provide Azure consistent services either connected to the internet (and Azure) or in disconnected environments with no internet connectivity. Azure Stack Hub also can be configured as multitenant environment for local public cloud service.

Azure Stack Hub uses the same underlying technologies as global Azure, which includes the core components of Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Software-as-a-Service (SaaS), and optional Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) capabilities. These capabilities include: Azure VMs for Windows and Linux, Azure Web Apps and Functions, Azure Key Vault, Azure Resource Manager, Azure Marketplace, Containers, Admin tools (Plans, offers, RBAC, and so on).

Technology Azure Stack Hub
Purpose Private cloud, local public cloud
Provider Any

8. AWS Outposts

AWS Outposts is a fully managed service that extends AWS infrastructure, services, APIs, and tools to customer premises released in December 2019. By providing local access to AWS managed infrastructure, AWS Outposts enables customers to build and run applications on premises (private cloud) using the same programming interfaces as in AWS Regions, while using local compute and storage resources for lower latency and local data processing needs.

An Outpost is a pool of AWS compute and storage capacity deployed at a customer site. AWS operates, monitors, and manages this capacity as part of an AWS Region. You can create subnets on your Outpost and specify them when you create AWS resources such as EC2 instances, EBS volumes, ECS clusters, and RDS instances. Instances in Outpost subnets communicate with other instances in the AWS Region using private IP addresses, all within the same VPC.

Unlike VMWare and Azure Stack Hub, AWS Outposts does not support multitenancy due to totally different concept, so it cannot be used for local public cloud service.

Technology AWS Outposts
Purpose Private cloud
Provider Amazon

What Is Hybrid Cloud and Multi Cloud?

You might have heard of about hybrid cloud and multi cloud but have limited understanding on how they differ with each other. Let me explain in simple words. Both of hybrid cloud and multi cloud, in sense, are not kind of cloud services but combination of virtual machine workload created by customer across more than one domain. As hybrid cloud and multi cloud often used interchangeably, these are key points on the way they are working in different ways:

  • Hybrid cloud terminology is used when virtual machine workloads created by customer are deployed across private cloud and public cloud. Therefore, an application running in a hybrid cloud framework could use load balancing, web, and application services from a public cloud and at the same time locate the database and storage in a private cloud. With hybrid cloud, compute resources able to exercise the similar task in either private cloud or a public cloud.
  • Multi cloud terminology is used when virtual machine workloads created by customer are deployed across more than one public cloud provider. Thus, with multi cloud, user can run all compute and networking activities with a solution from a cloud provider (such as Microsoft Azure) while using database services from other cloud providers. As you can see, many today’s enterprises have multi cloud environment to leverage the resources for some applications using one cloud provider while the resources for separate applications are using other cloud provider resources.

While the terminology seems complex, both hybrid cloud and multi cloud has proven to support organizations with a solution that efficient and effective for business.

Interesting Fact

Microsoft use hybrid cloud terminology when introducing Azure Stack because the original purpose of Azure Stack is for private cloud use. However, it is interesting that the terminology often exercised differently in Indonesia. I found many times in Indonesia that the initial use case of Azure Stack is implied to the cloud service provider who wants to provide local public cloud service. This is somehow contradictory with the original hybrid cloud terminology, considering what being sold to customer is the single solution of local public cloud service.

Cloud Technology Used by Telkomtelstra

Some of cloud platform technology above are used by Telkomtelstra. We run VMWare for internal use, host SaaS application, and some of hardware capacity is rented for managed private cloud. We also run Azure Stack Hub for providing local public cloud service. For global public cloud service, we resell Microsoft Azure and just starting Amazon AWS as well.


  • We can map eight cloud platform technologies order by age and cloud service purpose in table below:
Cloud Platform Technology First release Cloud Provider Purposes
VMWare May 1999 Any Private and local public cloud
Amazon AWS March 2006 Amazon Global public cloud
Alibaba Cloud September 2009 Alibaba Global public cloud
Microsoft Azure February 2010 Microsoft Global public cloud
OpenStack July 2010 Any Private and local public cloud
Google Cloud Platform November 2011 Google Global public cloud
Azure Stack Hub July 2017 Any Private and local public cloud
AWS Outposts December 2019 Amazon Private cloud only
  • Private cloud and local public cloud using same cloud platform technologies. The difference is, for local public cloud purpose, the machines are configured for multitenant environment and equipped with billing system.
  • Besides providing their own local public cloud, most of local cloud providers are partner of global public cloud providers and resell their services for Indonesia market.
  • Microsoft make 2 kind of cloud platform technologies:
    • Azure is for global public cloud service. It is owned and operated by Microsoft.
    • Azure Stack Hub is for private cloud or local public cloud purpose. The servers owned and operated by server owner or local cloud providers and runs independently with global Azure cloud but have quite identical look and feel web portal.
  • AWS also make 2 kind of cloud platform technologies but in different way:
    • AWS is for global public cloud service purpose. It is owned and operated by Amazon.

AWS Outposts is for private cloud purpose. The servers owned and operated by Amazon in customer site but runs dependently with nearest global AWS region and using same web portal.

The article was written by Arief Rakhmatsyah