While self-service private and hybrid clouds are creating a lot of interest, pressure is mounting on IT departments to deliver the kinds of simple, self-service, on-demand infrastructure services readily available from public clouds such as Rackspace and Amazon EC2.
However, most IT organizations lack the infrastructure to provide the dynamic elasticity found in the public cloud. At the same time, most public cloud services lack the governance, management and control required for enterprise IT.
"Cloud computing is a megatrend that is shaping the future of IT," says Julie Craig, research director at Enterprise Management Associates (EMA), in a report titled Cloud Coalition: rPath, newScale, and Eucalyptus Systems Partner on Self-Service Public and Private Cloud. "It is forcing companies to reevaluate their approach to delivering IT services, to staffing and budgeting, and to application governance and management."
rPath, newScale, and Eucalyptus Systems recently teamed up to create an integrated technology platform designed to provide an onramp to private and hybrid clouds in the enterprise. The three vendors have combined self-service, automation, and elasticity functionality in a solution to help IT departments create their own private clouds and manage access to public cloud resources. Another vendor worth checking out is Cloud.com.
"Cloud technologies are fast evolving, bringing with them opportunities to run IT more efficiently," says Michael Cote, industry analyst, RedMonk. To cope with that landscape, Cote thinks the best strategy now is to adopt an open and heterogeneous cloud infrastructure that can span private and public clouds.
Here are five essential building-blocks developers should consider when they create their cloud infrastructure:
1. Offer Comprehensive Support for New and Old Technologies
Whether your cloud is a private or hybrid model, it must be able to support the newest hardware, virtualization software solutions, as well as your data center's existing infrastructure, especially its data management tools. The name of the game is heterogeneous support.
Your data center should support open source and proprietary technologies from leading companies, such as Citrix, Cisco, EMC, IBM, Microsoft, Red Hat, and VMware.
2. Define and Meter the Cloud's Service Offerings
It's vital to define and meter service offerings -- whether the cloud is private or public. Such offerings should include resource guarantees, metering rules, resource management, and billing cycles.
Integrate these offerings into the overall portfolio of services, so they can be quickly and easily deployed and managed by users.
3. Create Dynamic Workload and Resource Management
Every cloud must deliver on-demand, elastic performance while simultaneously meeting service level agreements (SLAs). To achieve that goal of optimum efficiency, IT and business folks need to create policies that will enable the various systems and resources to expand and contract on-the-fly based on the business priorities of the various workloads.
4. Make sure it's reliable, constantly available and secure
Constant availability, flawless reliability, and outstanding security are three of the must-haves of a cloud. Users expect a cloud to be fully operational even if a few components fail in one or more of the various shared resource pools of the cloud, external or internal.
Users also expect their cloud to be very secure. Security policies must cover every piece of your architecture, processes, and technologies.
5. Implement Strong Visibility and Reporting Procedures
The success of all cloud services depends on strong visibility and reporting. Without those vital mechanisms, it can be very difficult to manage customer service levels, system performance, compliance, and billing.
All of the above areas also require high levels of granular visibility and reporting.