When it comes to cloud computing, the ultimate goal is to essentially erase the barriers between data centers in a way that allows workloads to dynamically run wherever they are best suited. We’re a long way from making that happen across heterogeneous environments. But Skytap is showing how cloud computing will evolve in a world where platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offerings provide a layer of abstraction that helps mask the underlying complexity of cloud computing.
At the recent VMworld 2013 conference, Skytap showed an instance of version 2 of the Cloud Foundry PaaS environment that provided a template that IT organizations could use to deploy an instance of Cloud Foundry in less than 30 seconds.
According to Brian White, vice president of products at Skytap, the templates take advantage of the IPsec tunnels that Skytap sets up with customers to allow the Skytap cloud to become an extension of the customer’s on-premise data center. The Cloud Foundry environments provided by Skytap can be scaled up and down on-demand via the Skytap web interface or REST-based API, and IT organizations can also export the entire Cloud Foundry environment to run in their own on-premise enterprise data center at any time of their choosing.
At the moment, these capabilities pre-suppose VMware is running both in the cloud and on premise. But as Cloud Foundry evolves to support other virtual machines, it may not be long before similar capabilities are extended across heterogeneous cloud computing environments.
No matter how you view cloud computing, it’s clear that while infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offerings present some interesting outsourcing options, from an enterprise computing perspective, the real promise of cloud control is going to require a PaaS environment that includes both the hardware and software needed to effectively deploy an enterprise-class cloud. As those private PaaS environments mature, the line between different cloud computing environments will first blur and then eventually simply disappear altogether.
Whether that will eventually eliminate the need for terms such as cloud computing is anybody’s guess at this point. But the one thing that is for sure is that everyone will wonder what all the fuss was about in the first place.