So far we talked about Why the Cloud exists – what problems does it solve. I put them into three categories of Aggravation, Accounting and Agility. The Cloud helps in these areas:
- Eliminating much of the Aggravation inherent in running your own IT department by moving that responsibility to another organization, the Cloud Service Provider. We’ll talk a lot about Cloud Service Providers next time.
- Reducing the Accounting woes by allowing a clear correlation between costs and revenue or value, primarily by moving capital expenses to operational expenses.
- Increasing your organizations Agility by allowing you to add additional resources “at the flick of a switch,” often in minutes, and potentially without any explicit direction from you. The need for additional resources triggers the “appearance” of the necessary resources, automatically.
And we talked about What the Cloud is by looking at the front face of the PurposeFul Clouds Cloud Cube:
Software as a Service is a provisioning model where you outsource not only the infrastructure but also the actual application.
Platform as a Service is infrastructure as a service plus the operating system and other components to support the end-to-end life cycle of developing, testing, deploying and hosting web applications to fully leverage existing services within the Cloud.
Infrastructure as a Service is a provisioning model where you outsource the equipment used to support some or all of your IT operations, including storage, hardware, servers and networking components.
There are two key technologies involved in implementing the Cloud:
- The Internet to allow “stuff” to be anywhere. “Stuff” can be almost anything: servers, workstations, storage, applications, operating systems, backup and archive facilities, management staff, …
- Virtualization to break the connection between a function and a physical device. For example, to eliminate the decades long requirement (outside of the mainframe world) of an application must run on that particular server, or a database must exist on that specific set of disk units. And vice versa, that server is only for that application, and that storage subsystem is only for that database. It is server virtualization and ever-more-powerful management tools that allows a collection of servers to be used for a set of applications where the assignment of application to server is not constant, and not one-to-one. An application might run across multiple servers today, and tonight it might share a single server with ten other applications. There are similar virtualization technologies for storage and networks.
Now let’s look at the right side of the Cloud Cube for the “How” – the three primary implementation models for the Cloud: Private Cloud, Public Cloud, and Hybrid Cloud which is essentially a combination of private and public models.
A Private Cloud is the creation of a cloud-like environment within an organization’s own IT infrastructure or at a third party facility, usually through the use of virtualization and the automation of resource utilization. A Private Cloud can provide some of the financial values of the Cloud while allowing the organization to control security, governance, availability and reliability. When a Private Cloud is implemented within the organization’s own physical environment, it is often called “data center transformation.”
Private Cloud Benefits:
- You control the growth.
- You control the security.
- You can maximize the value of your capital equipment through virtualization that reacts to immediate workload needs, giving high resource utilization thus reducing cost.
Private Cloud Risks:
- High initial capital needs so you can’t get the full accounting benefits.
- You must manage growth.
- Assembling the right mix of infrastructure and virtualization tools, and the appropriate procedures to get the full advantage either internally or by your Cloud Provider.
- Technology obsolescence.
- Hard to integrate social media.
The Public Cloud, sometimes called “external cloud”, provides resources from a Cloud Service Provider that are dynamically provisioned on a fine-grained, self-service basis over the Internet, via web-based applications or web services. The Cloud Service Provider shares resources among many customers, and bills on a fine-grained utility pricing basis.
Public Cloud Benefits:
- Low upfront costs.
- Clear relationship between cost and benefit with pay-for-use model.
- Easy to try new projects, easy to make change.
- A wide choice of Service Level Agreement choices (SLAs).
- Easy to provide a world-wide presence.
- Access to traditional, service-oriented, and new Web 2.0 services.
- Easy to integrate social media.
Public Cloud Risks:
- Performance and availability.
- Can be hard to bring data back in-house or to another Cloud Service Provider.
- Long term viability of the Cloud Service Provider.
- Quality of support.
The Hybrid cloud environment consists of multiple Private Cloud and Public Cloud environments. By integrating multiple Cloud services, you can take advantage of Public Cloud services where appropriate and use Private Cloud services where security, performance or availability constraints require more control.
Hybrid Cloud Benefits:
- Maximize operational efficiency and flexibility of both internal and external resources.
- Adopt only the best delivery model for each application or solution.
- Leverage Cloud Bursting, the process of using the Cloud to handle excess demand or demand bursts beyond what a Private Cloud or your own infrastructure can handle.
- Lower cost options for disaster recovery.
Hybrid Cloud Risks:
- Moving resources between private and public Clouds.
- Managing and operational controls.
- Requires expertise and solutions that function in both Public and Private Cloud models.
As you have probably figured out, the choice can be complicated. The choice is likely different for each application or solution in your IT department, and some may not be good choices for the Cloud. So where are you the Cloud Cube? Each application may occupy a different little box somewhere in the Cube. Even if two applications “live” in the same little box, they may have different requirements that require different SLAs or even different Cloud Service Providers. Like a lot of things, thinking before jumping is a good idea.
The last word:
Hopefully we now know why, what and how. As part of that we have alluded to some potential issues, and you have probably thought of some yourself. Next time we’ll start talking about what can make for a bumpy ride and maybe what to do about it, other than just fasten your seat belt and grip the arm rests.
Keep your sense of humor.