While cloud computing has much to offer in terms of simplifying IT administration, there is still a long way to go before reaching any kind of nirvana. While a virtual server can be provisioned in a matter of minutes, it can still take an IT organization several weeks to provision the storage and networking resources needed to support that server.
The good news is that progress is being made on both fronts. Nixu Software, for example, this week released Nixu Cloud IP Suite, a turnkey cloud IP commissioning system that automates the provisioning of IP addresses, server names and other release parameters.
According to Juha Holkkola, managing director of Nixu Software, once we see the provisioning of network, and ultimately, storage resources, we should begin to see the emergence of third-generation cloud computing in the enterprise. A big part of making that happen will be the ability to manage storage systems at a higher level of abstraction.
Towards that end, storage vendors such as Tintri are working towards building what in effect are software-defined storage systems. According to Tintri CEO Kiernan Harty, the ability to manage at that level of abstraction is what will ultimately take most organizations to the point where 90 percent or more of their IT infrastructure is routinely virtualized.
Once all these capabilities are in place, we should see the emergence of truly programmable data centers where every piece of infrastructure can be tuned to meet the needs of a specific application workload. Until then, building your own private cloud is going to remain difficult, if for no other reason than an increasing number of data-intensive workloads running on virtual machines want to share a limited number of physical resources — many of which still have to be manually tuned.
There’s no doubt that cloud computing has the potential to greatly simplify the management of the data center; it’s just that on a practical level, a lot of those benefits are still on the ephemeral side of being cloudy.