Putting Community Clouds in Context

Michael Vizard
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A lot of the conversations surrounding cloud computing these days lack any real context. That's the considered opinion of the folks at Cisco who say arguments over private versus public cloud computing are missing the point.

Instead, what will emerge, says Omar Sultan, data center product marketing manager for Cisco, are community clouds, which are cloud computing deployments that internal IT organizations will build to serve an extended network of partners, suppliers and customers. In that context, says Sultan, there really is no such thing as a dedicated private or public cloud. Rather, there will be one cloud computing platform that will be segmented to serve different communities with some elements of that cloud running on premise, while other application workloads run on public infrastructure. But rather than thinking about that as simply hybrid cloud computing, Sultan says the emphasis will soon shift towards managing various classes of communities in the cloud.

To enable that, Cisco contends that IT organizations will need much more robust and sophisticated IT infrastructure. For example, the company at its recent Cisco Live event just released a 2-terabit card for its Catalyst 6500 line of switches that make it possible to support throughputs of up to 80 gigabits per second while making available new routers that support both 10- and 100-gigabit Ethernet interfaces and new virtualization technologies to deliver throughputs of up to 96 terabits per second.

At the same time, Cisco upgraded its Unified Computing System (UCS) platform to improve I/O bandwidth performance by 40 percent using new virtual switches, while enhancing the Cisco Wide Area Application Service (WAAS) platform with new capabilities that eliminate redundant data on the network.

Why all this matters, says Sultan, is that as cloud computing evolves, IT organizations are going to discover the critical need for context-aware IT infrastructure that will make it easier to not only manage application workloads, but also who has access to what services on the network. The reality of cloud computing is that services will need to be cooperatively managed at both the network and server level, which will require infrastructure that is a lot more aware of what services need priority over others when they are all part of the same community cloud.

Arguably, there is not much that is all that new in terms of technology for the cloud. What is changing is the way IT is being deployed and managed. But before any of that can really happen, Sultan says that IT organizations are going to need a lot more context about what is really happening anywhere in the cloud at any given moment.

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