As I’ve mentioned often in the past, the enterprise is not transitioning to the cloud, but many clouds. And with the advanced automation systems hitting the channel, it will soon be a relatively simple matter to deploy workloads to the appropriate cloud with little or no oversight from users or IT managers.
But how do you determine which cloud is the right cloud? And how exactly will all these clouds work together to produce at least the semblance of an integrated data environment?
According to EMC’s Peter Cutts, the either/or debate surrounding public and private clouds is over. Enterprises that have chosen both, in fact, are likely to see significant advantages over those who restrict themselves to pure-play infrastructure. The public cloud’s scalability cannot be denied, of course, but neither can the security, governance and performance of private infrastructure. In a hybrid scenario, the enterprise has the ultimate in flexibility when it comes to compiling the optimal resources for the business objective at hand.
True enough, says LogicWorks in an un-bylined post on Cloud Tech News, but how are those judgements to be made in a fast-moving, highly dynamic setting? At the moment, four general classes of data infrastructure appear to be in play – traditional on-premises resources, public clouds, private clouds and hybrid clouds. And even among these, there are myriad configuration options, such as hosted private clouds and the numerous XaaS solutions. In general, we can say long-term bulk storage, bursty web applications and the like fit best on public clouds, while high-performance but predictable functions work well with private resources. But most enterprises will have to do a lot of soul-searching when it comes to figuring out what goes where, and this is before we even consider that applications may increasingly start to span multiple infrastructure sets.
Indeed, most organizations will have to weigh carefully the degree to which they intend to commit to the cloud, says former AT&T CIO Al Kuebler. Part of this process should focus on the disadvantages of various solutions, as well as the advantages. Traditional infrastructure, for example, is costly, not terribly flexible and requires substantial in-house expertise to maintain operational stability. The public cloud’s chief drawback is that applications are not very customizable, while private/hybrid infrastructure tends to incorporate both the good and the bad of local and distributed architectures. The best place to start, then, is with your business drivers, namely, operational vs. capital costs, compliance requirements and IT competency. In this way, the enterprise can gain a handle on what it needs, what it can provide, and what it must acquire from outside sources.
Of course, pure cloud solutions are proving to be highly effective in certain circumstances. The European Space Agency (ESA) recently built a private cloud on the VCE platform aboard a series of x86 blades with support for a number of operating systems, including a customized RHEL distribution that links to legacy infrastructure. The system is used for a wide range of applications and development models governing tasks like satellite data processing, document management and standard IT services for more than 2,000 employees. Key capabilities include streamlined self-provisioning and the ability to maintain flexible resource allocation for highly specialized workflows.
It’s becoming obvious that the cloud will not necessarily make life easier for IT, even after the deployment and migration is complete. Rather, it shifts the complexity of management advanced data environments to another plane – a virtual, service-based layer where integration and performance monitoring are as challenging as ever.
To navigate this environment, it is best to know what your options are. Only then will you be able to craft the specialized solutions that users require.
Arthur Cole writes about infrastructure for IT Business Edge. Cole has been covering the high-tech media and computing industries for more than 20 years, having served as editor of TV Technology, Video Technology News, Internet News and Multimedia Weekly. His contributions have appeared in Communications Today and Enterprise Networking Planet and as web content for numerous high-tech clients like TwinStrata, Carpathia and NetMagic.