Sumit Sharma

Archive for October 2010

Going the Hybrid Cloud route?

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Some argue that private Cloud computing is a natural evolution for IT modernization investments that enterprises continue to make over the years.
The risk with investing in private Cloud infrastructure, processes and organizational re-structuring is it is difficult to change course once the commitment has been made. Depending on the scale involved, the financial justification will be realized over a prolonged time period and during this time there may have been some innovations in Cloud architectures that leapfrog how private Clouds are architected today. There is a high level of uncertainty around this given the rapid snow-balling effect of Oracle, HP, Dell, Cisco and IBM all continually innovating to provide ‘Cloud in a Box’ solutions and we anticipate the market getting more and more competitive as Moore’s law continues to take effect.

In many cases, the best solution is to then go for a hybrid model, one in which you still gain the benefits of having a dedicated Cloud environment, but leave most of the ‘heavy lifting’ and investment to an external vendor’s multi-tenant virtual private Cloud environment. This not only reduces cost and overhead, but also dramatically decreases the time to market for Cloud services. An IaaS Cloud provider can rapidly set up a hosted virtual private Cloud on an enterprise’s behalf. These cloud environments are bounded by specific enterprise security parameters.
A hybrid solution also makes sense in cases where an application, or some functionality (e.g., testing environment) is hosted on a public Cloud, perhaps because it needs to be customer facing for example but it still needs to interface with some APIs that are hosted via the internal Private cloud. In such a case, the application can be spread amongst the internal Cloud infrastructure as well as on the public Cloud. This calls for Cloud interoperability, which is extremely important, given the connected environment and expanding ecosystem of innovation.

Regardless of the decision of whether to actually operate a Cloud, or source a private Cloud, there will be a host of operational implications to address – but at the end of the day, the ability to host or operate a cloud can be satisfied through capital investment and organizational change, however the decision to operate or source will be a strategic level decision. Will the business model be supported through a Cloud platform on-premise or will it be supported through a Cloud platform sourced externally – that is the question to ask.

Written by Sumit

October 26, 2010 at 10:07 am

Posted in Cloud Computing

Does your enterprise have what it takes to pursue a private Cloud?

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From a technical perspective, hosting a private Cloud requires full fledged Cloud service lifecycle management. From being able to automate full-stack layered provisioning across heterogeneous platforms within the enterprise to being able to manage service retirement and resource reclamation. Investments in virtualization software, process automation, service provisioning and monitoring, infrastructure software and hardware upgrades in line with next generation data center features. Other important areas needed to support a private Cloud are the abilities to provide a self-service portal, supported by a service catalog – The enterprise will either need to develop or purchase a front end application from which users will access the cloud. In an optimal configuration, users will be able to access the cloud from inside the enterprise’s network as well as outside the network via a secure VPN session, or through a secure web browser, which is often seen in the public cloud.
A successful Cloud computing environment will require virtualized servers that interact with virtualized storage and virtualized network components in order to provide access services and data requested by users. Elastic load balancing is critical to the performance and capacity of the cloud as a pool of users will be accessing the cloud at different times for different services. In the event the pool of users changes, elastic load balancing will allow the enterprise to automatically add or remove computing resources without impacting the user’s experience.
Being able to master these aspects allow for an enterprise to potentially expand its private Cloud to the external world (i.e., offering a public Cloud service).

The question to ask is, does your enterprise have what it takes to pursue a private Cloud? This isn’t solely about the technology, but about change management, culture and organization. This calls for standardization of commonly repeated operating procedures related to the Cloud lifecycle, from provisioning to monitoring, measurement and de-commissioning. Deployment and management processes should be fully automated in order to provide agility and true elasticity. There is the need to build a services interface to the business which allows for a chargeback model that allows sophisticated measurement and chargeback capabilities to support ongoing capacity planning. From a customer service aspect, the ability to provide self service access to users entails requires sophisticated workflow automation in order to increase the speed and efficiency of Cloud deployments.

For larger enterprises, public Cloud computing is extremely viable for the commodity services with less business and data critical constraints, especially for services with ‘bursty’ characteristics – in such cases, the sheer scale of transactions, and agility allowed by procuring services from an elastic environment can justify the Public cloud approach. However, there is a point where the cost justification of hosting such services suggests hosting a private Cloud instead of procuring from a public Cloud. Even if the numbers do add up, does it make sense to invest energy into an area which the public Cloud could potentially cater to in the longer term, or where prices might decrease? Moreover, is there alignment with your organization’s corporate culture, competencies and fundamental DNA in hosting a private Cloud – the change management processes and investment needed from a cultural perspective – are they worth it?

Written by Sumit

October 10, 2010 at 10:05 am

Posted in Cloud Computing