One Size Does Not Fit All, Part I

Cloud Computing3 minutes readAug 28th, 2012
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The Requirement for Heterogeneity Within a Private Cloud

Private cloud computing is a very different beast than public cloud computing.  An enterprise that has chosen to implement a private cloud has probably picked this computing model because there are very specific requirements regarding service and compliance objectives that cannot be addressed by a public cloud.  But most private clouds are not necessarily architected to manage critical Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) issues.  Most private clouds are happy to dispense virtual machines (VMs) in the style of a cup dispenser.  You can get cups in various sizes and colors, but the focus is on standardization and automation of the basic infrastructure, with very few capabilities to address critical application requirements and objectives.  In most cloud environments, these objectives may be met on a cloud-wide basis, but not on an application by application basis.  This can lead to either failure to meet these objectives or, a cloud-wide commitment to the objectives, which can unnecessarily increase the cost of the cloud.  In most cases, many of the unique attributes needed to support an enterprise-class deployment are not available from the “standard” cloud management environment at all.  This is true because cloud computing is still in a nascent state.  Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) went into full production in October 2008. Back then, watching someone demo infrastructure-as-a-service was like watching a parlor trick:

Demonstrator – “Please tell the audience – have I ever met you before?”
Spectator – “No you have not.”
Demonstrator – “OK – please select a service – any service – from the catalog and tell me what it is.”
Spectator – “It’s a Windows 2008 server.”
Demonstrator – “OK – now watch that my fingers do not leave my hand.”
<relatively short pause of a few minutes>
Demonstrator – “… and here’s a lovely VM for the pretty lady.”
<demonstrator exits stage left to thunderous applause>

Remember? A few years later, we moved past the initial awe and recognized the game-changing implications within the enterprise.  Although “Utility Computing” sounded like a good idea, that type of computing needed this service-oriented approach as well as the proof point (provided by Amazon) to appeal to the stakeholders who, up until 2008, insisted they had to hug their servers for dear life.  Around 2010, savvy CIOs were “kicking the tires” by using cloud computing to automate a particularly operational-intensive part of their workloads – test, development and demonstrations.  In this area, Unisys has leveraged the value of the Secure Private Cloud to avoid over $5 million of infrastructure costs in 2011.  In addition, we have found that standardization onto a single cloud environment has been instrumental in bringing the computing environment under compliance with best practices and corporate regulations, thus reducing risks such as unavailability and network penetration.

But now, we are moving beyond the “kicking the tires” stage and stepping up to critical enterprise applications.  We have moved beyond supporting test/development/demonstration workloads and into supporting production and mission-critical workloads.  Just as our effort to standardize and virtualize our test/development/demonstration workloads was non-trivial, so is this next step.

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