Cloud Special: Variety of clouds

By : |May 29, 2009 0

BANGALORE, INDIA: Talk of the woods of cloud computing and one can not help wandering away in the big forest with so many flavours of clouds going around. Internal clouds, external clouds, private clouds, public clouds, the list goes on.

But which one is making more impact?

Cloud computing, in short is a style of computing in which dynamically scalable and mostly virtualised resources are delivered in the form of a service over the Internet. Here one can have many models depending on what one pins over the cloud: infrastructure as a service, software as a service, desktop as a service or platform as a service et al. IBM, Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo are some of the major cloud computing service providers, while Salesforce.com stands almost synonymous to the software-as-a-service model of cloud.

Between clouds, the space is big enough too. You have the public or external cloud whereby resources are dynamically provisioned on a fine-grained, self-service basis over the Internet, via web services, from an off-site third-party provider who in turn shares resources and billings on a fine-grained utility model. Private or internal clouds is where vendors have of late started giving offerings to simulate cloud models on a private network.

Internal clouds help you to pool your computing resources into a cloud and manage it, applying server resources dynamically on the fly in response to demand. They become relevant when an enterprise needs to follow all of workflow and security guidelines. On the other hand, leveraging an external or public cloud gives more economies of scale. Yet as experts have concluded, this comes with the luggage of the work like license management and adapting to the processes of the public cloud. One has to work with what is on offer. But you do get the benefits of economies of scale.

In view of Sachin Duggal, CEO, Nivio, a player in desktop virtualisation, ultimately public clouds will rule owing to more economic benefits. Gradually, the need to keep private clouds and the associated requisites will wane. “Between public which is off-premise model and private cloud, which is on-promise model, it will actually shape up depending on the generator analogy. An enterprise that wants its own generator for reasons of control etc will go the private cloud way. And enterprise who can afford to leverage on outside clouds will do do.”

These housing choices may also be known as either internal and external clouds, but don’t get caught up in the nomenclature—every vendor will have a different spin, which will only lead to more confusion cautions B S Nagarajan, Senior Technology Consultant, VMware India. In his view, the magic in cloud computing happens behind the dials and indicators, where infrastructure is provisioned, network bandwidth is automatically increased or decreased, and most importantly, the application workloads dynamically share an entire pool of virtualized resources. “The resource pools can and will be either housed locally within the four walls of the data center (on-premise clouds) or outside the data center at a secondary site or third party hosting facility (off-premise clouds). “

What is important is that the vendors share a common message regarding the benefits of cloud computing and how it helps customers. If they don’t, technology battles could ensue and the cloud runs the risk of turning into a foggy nirvana that can never be achieved.” he stresses.

EMA is already seeing virtualization adoption stalling in many enterprises as they run out of people to handle management manually, and need to implement tools to automate the management of their virtual systems, points out Analyst, Andi Mann, Vice President of Research, Systems and Storage Management”, Enterprise Management Associates.

He expects the same will eventually happen with cloud, “ Although I do believe external cloud adoption will lag well behind both virtualization and internal cloud deployments, in both time and scope, due to its inherent flaws and unsuitability for many different types of workloads and companies.”

As Nagarajan concludes best, customers want a reliable, dynamic computing platform that can be automated based on business rules and policy. They also want the choice of hosting a workload on- and offsite at a cost model that proves to be a frugal investment today and a wise investment for the future. In the end, it doesn?t matter what term is used to describe this new computing model, what does matter is that the term represents a smarter, more efficient and cost conscious model that companies can begin investigating and investing in today to build for the future.  

As Mann, sees it ahead, the pressure will increase on internal IT departments to provide dynamic, opaque, demand-driven, service-oriented, operational, and short-term IT resources. “In response, IT will require more sophisticated service management capabilities that will allow entire business services to move between internal infrastructure and external infrastructure – the idea behind the federated cloud, using dynamic capacity both internally and externally, to satisfy real-time business needs.”

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