Looking Ahead to the On-Demand Cloud

Arthur Cole

One of the chief advantages that cloud computing brings to the IT table is the concept of on-demand applications and resources. Say goodbye to the complicated provisioning and allocation of enterprise capabilities. Simply scroll through the offerings on the cloud, boot them up and get to work.

Of course, setting up a cloud does not automatically produce such a robust environment. It can still be a rather tricky dance to ensure all the links between application, data and end user are in sync and that any and all business policies and practices are being adhered to.

But as is common in enterprise settings, where there is a need, there is a platform looking to meet it. And lately, we've seen a growing cadre of cloud implementations emphasizing on-demand capabilities.

For example, LineSider and newScale have combined their respective orchestration/automation and IT storefront technologies to create a self-provisioning, lifecycle-management stack aimed specifically at cloud services. The package provides a menu of standard services tied to on-demand compute, storage and network resource provisioning. In essence, users simply request services from the newScale storefront portal and then engage the LineSider OverDrive system to deploy the underlying architecture. The result is a broad array of IT services and applications that is still governed by enterprise policy and data rules.

Another approach is to apply the same automation techniques available on private cloud platforms and extend them into public realms. That's the strategy behind the DynamicOps Cloud Automation Center (DCAC). The system combines a physical resource module with an external cloud-management stack to quickly port EC2 or other service offerings to bare-metal Windows and Linux operating environments. The process is overseen by the Virtual Resource Manager, which handles the automation and operational control of the provisioning and lifecycle process.

On-demand functionality is also making its way onto the service end of the cloud. Kaseya, for one, recently added a number of cloud-based system-management services to its Kaseya 2 platform that allows users to mix-and-match functions like inventory discovery, patch management and log monitoring according to their needs. By the end of the year, the company expects to add tools like desktop migration and online backup.

You still need to be careful, though, about the nature of applications touted as "cloud-ready," according to ERP Cloud News' Doug Johnson. Too many services merely host on-premises versions of popular applications and then place the burden of connectivity, backup and monitoring on the user. A true cloud offering should enable Web-centric software that provides for rapid deployment by forgoing the need for client software, as well as enhanced remote access through reduced data traffic and easy maintenance, even for multiple users.

At the moment, most enterprises are focused on simply getting cloud services up and running, saving the operational fine-tuning for later. However, once a basic level of cloud functionality has been met, the onus will quickly shift from "getting it to work" to "reaping the operational benefits the technology promises."

The primary benefit, of course, is to enable a broader set of enterprise resources with less underlying infrastructure than traditional enterprise architectures can provide. To do that, the cloud will have to be able to provide users what they want, when they want it.

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