Private Versus Public Cloud Computing
A plethora of applications are being considered for the cloud, but it may take at least another year before cloud computing goes mainstream in the enterprise.
Even though most enterprises have attained a significant level of comfort with cloud technologies over the past few years, there are still a lot of unknowns, or at least uncomfortable truths, about the cloud itself.
Probably the most significant is its ultimate relationship with legacy infrastructure. Does the cloud truly represent a new kind of IT in which data resources are delivered and consumed on a utility model, or should it merely provide an adjunct service to supplement owned-and-operated systems?
To companies like Cloudscaling, the former has the most appeal in terms of driving enterprise data architectures to new levels of productivity, although it seems that the latter is most in vogue right now because it lies more easily in the comfort zones of most CIOs. As CTO Randy Bios pointed out, platforms like Amazon Web Services (AWS) can only rise to their full potential when executives stop viewing them through the lens of traditional enterprise computing and start seeing them as an entirely new form of IT. Only then can you shift your focus away from simply virtualizing and managing resources and delve into truly game-changing concepts like infinite scalability and lowest cost-per-compute scenarios.
In this light, it would seem that the enterprise industry has come to a fork in the road, er cloud, says ZDNet's Phil Wainewright. Basically, do you simply want to retrofit the cloud to suit the needs of your existing data infrastructure, or do you want to take a leap into the unknown where both the risks and rewards are substantial? Clearly, most enterprises are pursuing the safer alternative through private clouds, even though, in Wainewright's view, these will fail to provide the kind of resource flexibility needed to handle a rapidly changing data universe.
But where Wainewright sees a fork, I tend to view it as one side of a divided highway. True, private and public clouds are different animals, but there is no reason why they can't work in tandem. If we go back to AWS as an example, you'll note that the company recently released a new storage gateway designed to connect on-premises software appliances to cloud-based applications and data. While it is limited to mirroring applications and asynchronous uploading, it nonetheless represents another step in the drive to integrate internal and external architectures so they operate as a unified environment.
Many of the new data management suites are already working under this assumption. Gale Technologies, for one, recently released GaleForce 6.0, which provides broad support for physical, virtual and cloud platforms with an eye toward orchestrating them as a single environment. The goal is to allow enterprises to leverage new and legacy systems for infrastructure service delivery, enabling both broad scalability and efficient resource utilization across mixed-platform infrastructures.