private clouds, which provide an ideal situation for enterprise
servers and mainframes. These environments are known for
flexibility, scalability, security and high utilization, as well as
for optimizing delivery of IT resources to mixed workloads.
These companies have enterprise IT expertise and experience that can create dynamic virtualized environments that
are ideally situated for success in the private cloud model. The
combination of skilled staff and attractive software pricing
models for virtual systems on enterprise servers provides an
appealing setting that serves as an inexpensive, value-added
host for private cloud offerings.
The most common initial use for the private cloud is to
provide test and development environments for enterprise
applications. Developers are able to request resources and
almost immediately get access to an environment on which
to build and test their applications. When the development is
complete, the resources can be returned for use by others.
While cloud computing insulates the IT user from the
management of the infrastructure, someone still has to
manage the IT resources. Private clouds clearly have a major
impact on IT departments, since these organizations will
need to provide clouds with additional capabilities to handle
dynamic provisioning and automated request processes.
Those requests for service will be handled automatically without the IT organization’s intervention. Thus,
monitoring and balancing workloads will need to be an
ongoing focus. Also, fair chargeback algorithms will have
to be developed and implemented to provide incentives for
appropriate usage behavior.
ILLUSTRATION BY WALTER MAKARUCHA JR.
Microsoft Azure. A public cloud allows customers to create
their own images, and they pay only for their hourly use,
including data storage and transfers. While a public cloud
offers the ultimate in convenience, a private cloud seems to
provide better control and assurance of security and privacy.
Regardless of which approach an IT organization takes,
enterprises that deploy mission-critical applications want
assurances of reasonable system responsiveness through
service-level agreements. They also want protection through
data isolation in a multitenant environment, failover protection
to minimize service outages and predictable recharge rates.
Portability is also an issue. For example, public cloud users
want to know if they can easily change providers. What about
software licenses? Can they be moved from one cloud provider to another?
Another area of concern: When an enterprise IT organization is done with its public cloud environment, what assurance does it have that all the private data that was used has
been removed? Data privacy is a critical concern that requires
Ideally, a public cloud offers zero capital costs of acquisition, since IT organizations pay only for what they use. There
aren’t any facility or energy costs. But that still leaves concerns about public cloud security, resilience and service.
The public cloud does offer security, but it’s still not
clear to many enterprise IT organizations whether the level
of security offered will meet the needs of corporations that
are notoriously protective of their data, including credit card
numbers and medical records. Convincing corporate security management that data stored with a third party is safe
remains a significant challenge, and there is also the question
of liability if any data is compromised.
Reliability is another major issue. Public cloud providers
offer reliable environments in which replacement instances
can be created, but is that good enough? What about data and
transactions in flight? Do partially completed transactions
get backed out? Enterprise IT typically has disaster-recovery
sites to take over operations if there is an event at their primary site, and significant effort is expended to ensure the
integrity of transactions.
And, of course, the price of cloud computing is a key
issue. The public cloud offers pay per use, which can provide
low-cost options for short-term projects. Still, for long-term
use, enterprise IT organizations may be better off making
a capital investment to purchase additional hardware and
software. Enterprises need to conduct a break-even analysis
to determine whether a public or private cloud would be
more cost-effective for them.
The public cloud offers benefits for application development resulting from rapid acquisition time and reduced capital expenditures. But for high-availability, data security and
privacy reasons, enterprise IT organizations remain skeptical
about turning to the public cloud for mission-critical applications and sensitive or confidential data.
HEAD IN THE CLOUD
Cloud computing is still an emerging capability, and many
enterprise IT organizations are just starting to poke their
heads in the cloud. For many, there are more questions than
answers. That’s why we continue to examine some of the early
cloud implementations and look to develop much-needed
requirements for IT providers, as well as best practices for
managing cloud environments.
The enterprise IT community is evaluating emerging
cloud computing concerns regarding service levels, the best
workloads, disaster recovery, help desks, change-control
issues, approval and audit issues, and the management of
rapidly changing environments.
There are some very down-to-earth benefits to using the
cloud model to facilitate rapid availability of IT resources,
whether public or private. What is necessary now is a way to
document the needs of enterprise IT managers to make both
public and private cloud computing more secure, reliable,
resilient and suitable for mission-critical uses. Create that,
and they will be nothing but blue skies ahead. 3
Raymond J. Sun serves on the SHARE board of directors and has
been involved with the organization for more than 25 years. He is a
frequent speaker on topics such as service management, virtualization and cloud computing.
Many corporations are looking to benefit from cloud computing. However, since a number of them are concerned
about availability and security issues, they are looking to
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