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I am new to the concept of cloud computing. I have a scenrio, that I want to create and I wonder if cloud computing is the way to do it.

I want to create a system/environment which has the following features:

  1. have online applications applications installed on a server somewhere
  2. A user can login to the system and be able to run/use the remote applications and use them over the internet, almost like Citrix or remote desktop, but by using a browser
  3. Be able to control who has access to which software app
  4. Ideally (i.e. nice to have, but not essential), be able to log who logged on when and which software they used, how much disk space they are using etc.

Is there a system (i.e. software) out there that does something like this?.

if no such system exists, can someone give me guidelines as to how to go about building one?. Some of the things I think I will need to cobble such a system together would be:

  1. Cloud storage and computing (is this even necessary? - maybe normal hosting may suffice?)
  2. Some bash scripts to setup new mebers and record usage stats
  3. Remote viewing software (this is the difficult part I think)

Some further information:

  1. The applications I will be running remotely are Unix (Linux) applications
  2. This is for a charity, so if this kind of software exists, it should be opensource

[Edit]

I have just come accros VirtualBox. This seems to be heading in the right direction.... Maybe someone can expand on how I can use virtualbox in the manner I described?

[Edit2]

I have used VNC in the past but found it to be extremely slow sometimes when graphics are involved. Is there an alternative which uses a browser as a frontend?

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migrated from superuser.com Nov 24 '10 at 15:23

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Your initial requirements are the very definition of cloud computing. As far as completing it another way it is possible to be sure with virtualization technologies, but I doubt it is the job of users on a forum to develop a deployment platform for an obviously commercial application –  aking1012 Nov 24 '10 at 14:41
    
As an added piece of info, you say you want "almost like Citrix or remote desktop, but by using a browser" did you know that both of those can be used through a browser these days? –  GAThrawn Dec 1 '10 at 13:38
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4 Answers

Perhaps it will be overkill for your needs, however, I have worked with the Eucalyptus project in the past and found it to be very adequate (OpenSource)

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Also, there's the new(ish) Openstack Project, or mroe specifically the compute software is probably what you want.

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To clarify for you

a "cloud" is pool of resources (servers, storage etc) that are presented to the end users as a single system. This frees the end users from having to know about individual resources. for example, you just go to "gmail.com", you don't have to know which of the 1000's of google servers you are actually connecting to. you don't have to worry about how and where your email files are stored. Essentially, the cloud model is a way of providing complex IT services as cheaply as possible. it is generally only relevant at larger scales
example http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amazon_Web_Services

virtualbox is a way to run a simulation of one OS (ie Win XP) on another OS (ie Linux)
this is "OS virtualisation". The backend implementation of cloud computing happens to often make heavy use OS virtualisation as it makes managing lots of servers and running OSs a lot easier.

VNC is a remote desktop viewer this is effectively the same as having really really long cables from your PC to your screen.mouse.keyboard Of all the ways of connecting to a remote PC to interact with it, this generally the slowest.

what you need is either

normal hosting
(where you rent either a physical server or virtual server , virtual is usually much cheaper)

or

app hosting Where you just upload your application to them and they run it for you and you do not need/are not allowed to know anything about the system it's running on.

normal hosting is very flexible (just like having your own computer) but requires that you manage the OS yourself

app hosting is great if all you want to do is run the app and not have to deal with anything else. however your choices of platform(ie kinds of apps) and apps will be much more limited.

normal hosting examples
www.gandi.net
www.tagadab.com
www.elastichosts.com
www.rackspace.co.uk
there are 100's more
you can usually get a very basic linux virtual server for around 15 euro/month

app hosting examples - application types supported
appengine.google.com - Python, Java, Go
www.microsoft.com/windowsazure/ - .NET, Java, Ruby
www.engineyard.com - Ruby on Rails
www.force.com - Salesforce.com apps mostly ?
www.heroku.com - Ruby on Rails

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Yes such a web application already exists on the web. They are commonly referred to as Web Desktops. Check out http://eyeos.org/. If you wish to develop such an application yourself, I may help you as I am working on a lil bit advanced version of eyeOS. (just out of curiosity).

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