Private and public clouds evolve the way IT services are delivered to the business. The promise of increased efficiency and agility of enterprise-class applications and services is intriguing, but enterprise customers are struggling with how cloud services can safely add realistic business value. The use of external cloud services challenge security and compliance, as well as service level management, which can involve multiple domains of control. Technology lock-in is an additional concern as various vendors deliver very different cloud computing offerings (and there are others of which you should be aware). The reality is that external cloud services are still working toward enterprise maturity.
Pairing key cloud computing user scenarios with innovative IT management solutions will allow you to deliver agile and optimized IT services to employees and customers. You can decrease the time to develop and introduce new services, and meet the SLAs of current services during demand fluctuations. IT operations become simpler, capitalizing on resources that are managed in a highly efficient manner and delivered as part of an overall IT supply chain. You can continue to have seamless operational, performance, and security management of applications and services irrespective of where they are located and who manages them individually. In addition, IT can shift its focus towards innovation.
Intelligently embracing the cloud computing model will pave the way for you, as VPs and Directors of IT, to transform your infrastructure into an elastic business-responsive engine. By adopting this model internally as a first step, all of the benefits of cloud computing can be harnessed without concern. By further leveraging external cloud computing services, CAPEX spending shifts, in a reduced amount, to OPEX while management of the underlying physical resources shifts to service providers without sacrificing service quality. Cloud computing also supports Green IT goals through optimized resource consumption. In addition, you can better align business services with IT and business goals to enhance flexible business navigation through economic peaks and troughs.
Cloud Computing--What Does It Really Mean?
Cloud computing is the evolution, over the past 15 years, of a continuing trend toward the industrialization of IT. This is in part due to the popularity of outsourcing and hosting of increasingly industrialized service definitions, cost structures, and pricing. The cloud computing model is enabled by the ongoing standardization of underlying technologies like virtualization, service-oriented architecture (SOA), and Web 2.0. This has spurred the dramatic growth in popularity and use of both the general Internet and corporate-wide intranets as trusted delivery models for business services. These technologies have made it possible to deliver IT services in a cost-effective and pervasive way. We see that this transition encompasses fundamental concepts such as just-in-time, pay-peruse, abstracted and simplified resources, federation, and composite applications and services. Customers are driving toward less cost, more availability and agility, as well as managed risk--all of which is accelerated by economic shock from the current global recession.
Cloud Computing Defined
We believe the "cloud" is a metaphor for a network of computing resources accessible publically or privately over the Internet or an intranet. It is an abstraction of the complex infrastructure which is concealed from the end-user. The term "cloud computing", more specifically, represents a style of computing where dynamically scalable resources are provided as a service through internet technologies. These cloud services are typically offered within a pay-as-you-go business model, and service types can include: system and security infrastructure, application infrastructure, information, application, and business process. This model allows you to better consume services in the context of the business policy.
There are three common types of clouds: internal, external, and hybrid. An internal cloud is based upon a pool of shared resources (whether mainframe, distributed, or virtualized), whose access is limited within organizational boundaries. The resources are accessed over a private and secured intranet, and are all owned and controlled by the company's IT organization. In essence, the cloud computing business model is brought and managed in-house to enable shared IT services. An external cloud is a domain where the public Internet is used to obtain cloud services. The resources that make up those services are owned by the respective cloud service providers. Some examples include Salesforce.com, Google App Engine and Google search, Microsoft Azure, and Amazon's bevy of Web services such as EC2. A hybrid cloud is a combination of internal and external clouds, where services from each domain are consumed in an integrated fashion and include an extended relationship with the selected external service providers.
Access to any of these cloud computing services can be public (over the Internet) or private (over the public Internet or a private network, to a restricted group of consumers). We feel that "external cloud" and "internal cloud" supersede the more common "public cloud" and "private cloud" terms, as the latter do not well capture the combinations of physical resource locations and access rights.
Internal and external clouds serve as the backbone for a variety of different cloud computing service models. We can see that the industry has been successfully adopting three common types of cloud computing service models. Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), sometimes known as Hardware Infrastructure-as-a-Service (HIaaS), is a service model around servers (compute power), storage capacity, and network bandwidth. The offered resources most often leverage the agility and flexibility of virtualization, but can also be physical. Examples include Amazon (EC2 and S3), Rackspace, AT&T, and Verizon.
Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) provides an externally managed platform for building and deploying applications and services. This model typically provides development tools (such as databases and development studios) for working with the supplied frameworks, as well as the infrastructure to host the built application. Examples include Force.com, Microsoft Azure, and Google App Engine. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) involves applications or services which hide the supporting infrastructure from the consumer, but are able to scale to meet changing demands. Examples include Salesforce.com and NetSuite.
Cloud service enablers, or cloud enablers, help establish and maintain this particular business model. The technology that cloud enablers provide is also known as Software Infrastructure-as-a-Service (SIaaS). This can include technology that establishes the infrastructure (e.g. VMware, Citrix Systems, and 3Tera) or provides the necessary IT management capabilities (e.g. CA). Cloud enablers may also integrate the core offerings of multiple cloud service providers to provide composite applications and services. Cloud enablers are an important contributor to the adoption of cloud...