As is the case with most new trends in the deployment of information technology, vendors rush to put their own stamp or definition on the latest thing. In the cloud arena, this has become so prevalent that some have coined the term 'cloud washing.' So before we start, let's outline our definition of the cloud.
The 'cloud' is an overarching deployment architecture/strategy that uses virtualization, automation and governance to rapidly deliver (and reclaim) information technology services designed to meet specific business needs at a specific per-unit cost. Typical implementations of this model depend on highly flexible resource pools. The cloud strategy provides on-demand services from a virtualized environment making the underlying technology transparent to the consumer. Services in the cloud model include software-as-a-service (SaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS) and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS). Cloud services can be provided by internal or external service providers, or both. The internal cloud provider typically implements the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) service provider model and utilizes automation to quickly deploy resources as services from a virtualized pool on a pay-per-use basis.
In this article, we will focus on the internal service provider and the ability to deliver compute and storage services under the IaaS class.
Deploying the Cloud on a Virtual Infrastructure Environment
While there are many different types of cloud services and different types of cloud providers, we will focus primarily on the increasingly popular trend toward deploying an internal or private cloud on a virtual infrastructure environment that is designed for low-cost administration, rapid provisioning and de-provisioning, and increased service levels. In a nutshell: better service, lower costs.
So in essence, the cloud is a sophisticated deployment of the ITIL service provider model. Under cloud deployment architectures, we would expect to see supporting technology infrastructure delivered from a virtualized environment that supports highly automated provisioning and de-provisioning. Now the essence of the cloud is the general agreement that it is a commercial deployment model with an associated fee for service. This means the consumer can pay to get what they want, when they want it and return the resource when it is no longer required. All of this is done at an attractive (commercially competitive) cost.