Cloud Computing: Bridging the Old and the New

Arthur Cole
Slide Show

Private Versus Public Cloud Computing

A plethora of applications are being considered for the cloud, but it may take at least another year before cloud computing goes mainstream in the enterprise.

Even though most enterprises have attained a significant level of comfort with cloud technologies over the past few years, there are still a lot of unknowns, or at least uncomfortable truths, about the cloud itself.

Probably the most significant is its ultimate relationship with legacy infrastructure. Does the cloud truly represent a new kind of IT in which data resources are delivered and consumed on a utility model, or should it merely provide an adjunct service to supplement owned-and-operated systems?

To companies like Cloudscaling, the former has the most appeal in terms of driving enterprise data architectures to new levels of productivity, although it seems that the latter is most in vogue right now because it lies more easily in the comfort zones of most CIOs. As CTO Randy Bios pointed out, platforms like Amazon Web Services (AWS) can only rise to their full potential when executives stop viewing them through the lens of traditional enterprise computing and start seeing them as an entirely new form of IT. Only then can you shift your focus away from simply virtualizing and managing resources and delve into truly game-changing concepts like infinite scalability and lowest cost-per-compute scenarios.

In this light, it would seem that the enterprise industry has come to a fork in the road, er cloud, says ZDNet's Phil Wainewright. Basically, do you simply want to retrofit the cloud to suit the needs of your existing data infrastructure, or do you want to take a leap into the unknown where both the risks and rewards are substantial? Clearly, most enterprises are pursuing the safer alternative through private clouds, even though, in Wainewright's view, these will fail to provide the kind of resource flexibility needed to handle a rapidly changing data universe.

But where Wainewright sees a fork, I tend to view it as one side of a divided highway. True, private and public clouds are different animals, but there is no reason why they can't work in tandem. If we go back to AWS as an example, you'll note that the company recently released a new storage gateway designed to connect on-premises software appliances to cloud-based applications and data. While it is limited to mirroring applications and asynchronous uploading, it nonetheless represents another step in the drive to integrate internal and external architectures so they operate as a unified environment.

Many of the new data management suites are already working under this assumption. Gale Technologies, for one, recently released GaleForce 6.0, which provides broad support for physical, virtual and cloud platforms with an eye toward orchestrating them as a single environment. The goal is to allow enterprises to leverage new and legacy systems for infrastructure service delivery, enabling both broad scalability and efficient resource utilization across mixed-platform infrastructures.

The point is, the cloud is not an either/or proposition. Just as it's short-sighted to view the cloud simply as an extension of traditional resources, so too is it wrong to pitch decades' worth of investment in internal infrastructure just because something new comes along. There's no reason why cloud architectures cannot retain the look and feel of traditional data environments even as legacy infrastructure becomes more cloud-like.

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Jan 25, 2012 1:54 PM John McCallister John McCallister  says:

The word "cloud" is passe that is being used to describe a specific technology, a specific technology built on top of cloud technology, technologies on top of technologies on top of cloud technologies and to make matters worse, marketing is using it as an umbrella term to describe anything that they can't explain.

Companies simply need services, and that's XaaS - Anything as a Service. This might or might not be 'true' cloud-based solutions but it's a service that is managed in some data-center somewhere that might or might not be less expensive than running it in-house, but certainly more secure and reliable.

XaaS (Anything as a Service) is what companies are looking for. They're tired of inconsistently supported systems.

Jan 25, 2012 5:03 PM Robert Cathey Robert Cathey  says:

FYI, it's Bias, not Bios. Thought you'd want to know. Thanks.

Jan 26, 2012 10:22 AM Cloud Computing Cloud Computing  says: in response to Robert Cathey

Thanks for correcting Robert Cathey. I appreciate you for correcting.

Jan 26, 2012 7:39 PM Randy Bias Randy Bias  says: in response to John McCallister

If I had $1 for every XaaS strategy I have seen inside an enterprise, I would be a rich man.  It's ocean-boiling at it's best.  Making something 'as-a-Service' is not trivial.  The worst attempts wind up creating a bunch of isolated services that have little or no relationship.  Remember SOA?  It tried to essentially make every app a service too.  It's not enough to make things a service.

The new approach to IT that is epitomized by large Internet operators shows that they have re-thought the stack.  The outcome is that apps can be delivered effectively as a service.  You can't work backwards and make your apps 'as-a-Service' and wind up with the same economies of scale, lower cost of operations, and more agile infrastructure.

If that worked, then SOA would have succeeded the first time.

Feb 9, 2012 4:57 PM kevin kevin  says:

I would add that cloud computing is not only attractive for the enterprise level companies but smaller/medium companies too. We are a small company and use many cloud base solutions. Amazon Web Services (AWS) is great, we use the beanstalk for scaling our email sending capabilities and also host on Rackspace's cloud servers which means we can scale bandwidth up and down inline with traffic volume.

Great article, by the way.


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