Deploying Applications in the Cloud
While there's more talk than actual use of cloud computing in the enterprise, a Zeus Technology survey looks at the beginnings of a major shift under way. Clear expectations and planning can improve your experience and near-term success.
Arthur Cole spoke with Peggy Canale, government segment manager for Avocent, a division of Emerson Network Power, about what it takes to get on the cloud.
The headlines make it seem that getting on the cloud is a simple matter of finding a provider and writing a check. In truth, there is a fair amount of prep work beforehand, at least if you intend to leverage the cloud to its full potential. Peggy Canale, of Emerson Network Power's newly acquired Avocent division, knows a few things about what it takes to get on the cloud. From a facilities perspective, it helps if you go in with your eyes open.
Cole: For many enterprises, cloud computing offers a chance to remake older data and facility architectures. What are some of the key areas that are ripe for improvement as the cloud approaches?
Canale: There are four areas we examine to ensure that the physical infrastructure is ready for the cloud. First, you need tight control and management over your current assets. If you don't know what you have, you are starting in a cloud-risky posture. It sounds simple, but the federal government just went through a prolonged review in this area and our private sector customers often use outdated diagrams as well.
Third, because a cloud's virtualization technology means that a dynamic compute environment is built on a static foundation, you must be able to maintain 'headroom' to handle normal peaks in demand, but also the odd spikes from sudden and intense cloud utilization.
Last, the cloud is all about flexibility and scalability. More than half of the organizations considering the cloud are worried about how it will affect availability and performance. You need to be able to fully visualize the effects of change on load, power and devices to plan confidently.
Cole: We're also seeing tighter integration between power and data systems. In what ways can these two worlds be more highly integrated to improve performance and lower costs?
Canale: This is a foundational reason why Emerson acquired Avocent. In the past, facilities typically over-provisioned for data centers built outs. In today's environment, with cost containment, and in the case of many public sector customers, energy efficiency mandates, it is just not feasible nor desirable to do that. Before data center managers can truly have a cloud-ready infrastructure, they must first establish a daily working relationship with the facility managers. Historically, the contact between these two teams has been contained to infrequent meetings on long-term requirements and planning. Emerson Network Power is about giving these two groups the common set of tools and a holistic view that bridges what IT needs and what facilities can deliver. In the power area, monitoring from a facilities perspective all the down to the outlet level is already here.
Cole: How can enterprises accomplish these changes without jeopardizing data integrity and reliability?
Canale: Infrastructure is often the most overlooked activity in cloud implementation. The best way to achieve productive integration of IT and facilities is through effective Data Center Infrastructure Management (DCIM). Detailed monitoring and measurement of data center performance, utilization and energy consumption is crucial in order for data center managers to make accurate judgments and ensure proper planning. Without tight control and management over current assets, from headquarters all the way to remote data centers, you will not be able to identify risk areas and right-size to create an optimized environment for cloud. This means point failures must be able to be quickly identified, isolated and corrected.