Still Striving for IaaS, PaaS in the Cloud

Arthur Cole
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The Rise of Cloud Storage Adoption

The use of cloud storage adoption is on the rise, but so too are the concerns over costs.

Deciding to move select storage applications and resources to the cloud is a relatively easy decision. Most cloud services can accommodate leading enterprise environments and architectures, essentially providing valuable support for legacy infrastructure.

Once you start looking past simple storage, however, say into more advanced PaaS and IaaS architectures, things get a bit more complicated. The higher up the stack you go, integration with internal systems is even more crucial given that the needs of cloud architectures will very likely start to influence what happens on your home turf.

Ideally, cloud environments should offer the kind of plug-and-play functionality that many appliances and open source solutions promise. The reality, however, is that while deployment on the cloud may be quick and easy, open source solutions are still a ways off from enabling fully integrated environments. For one thing, according to IT consultant Robert Scheier, open source frameworks like OpenStack and Eucalyptus are geared toward physical server or stand-alone application management. This is helpful in masking the complexity of cloud environments, but it isn't enough for more sophisticated operations like application and data portability needed by mission-critical applications.

Development of open cloud systems continues, however, albeit with a fair bit of help from proprietary vendors. VMware and Piston Cloud Computing, for example, have formed a new OpenStack effort dedicated to supporting the Cloud Foundry PaaS environment. The group will build on the Cloud Provider Interface that bridges OpenStack and Cloud Foundry through the new BOSH toolkit designed for large-scale computing. Unclear at this point is whether the OpenStack community at large will welcome this development, as many had considered the framework as the best defense against VMware hegemony in the virtual/cloud space.

The blowback against cloud-based IaaS and Paas architectures are more than just technical in nature, however. As Informationweek's Art Wittmann points out, careful number-crunching reveals some serious questions about the costs and benefits of IaaS in the cloud. While it's true that the cost-per-GB at services like Amazon EC2 are coming down, the same can be said for traditional disk drives and storage arrays. And remember, Amazon's costs are usually for storage alone. Additional services, like retrieving your data, only add to the bottom line.

Bugs and hiccups always accompany the development of new IT technology. If we insisted on perfection with every new advancement, most of us would probably still be mired in tape-based storage.

The open market, then, turns out to be the most effective test bed anyone could want. Harsh as they may be, sales and investment trends usually do a good job of separating the good ideas from the bad. And ultimately, that should produce IaaS and PaaS frameworks that provide the most optimal service for both legacy and cloud infrastructures.

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