What It Takes To Build The Cloud
Rajesh Rege, Director - Data Center, India & SAARC, Cisco
Virtually every business sector today is betting big on cloud computing, because it promises to change the way technology is delivered and consumed by the end user. Driving the advance towards cloud computing is the explosion of digital information, rapid growth in the number of end points (500 billion connected devices by 2020); and video dominance of web traffic (91% by 2013). We are rapidly approaching a point where we will have a trillion devices, a million active applications, content distributed in new ways, and access to large amounts of data. All of this implies that the 'cloud' is not necessarily a new technology, but rather a step in the natural evolution of the Internet.
Today it is safe to say that we have migrated infrastructure to the Internet. The future will involve the integration of mobile, smart devices with multiple sensors onto the cloud, to achieve a utility view of compute and service delivery. Multiple opportunities will abound with this extension of networks beyond traditional boundaries. So far, most industry conversations around the cloud are focused on the solution provider segment - on vendors of virtualization platforms that help organizations build private clouds, or providers of large public cloud services. However tacos, service providers and companies that provide the infrastructure to power networks can benefit from the fact that delivery is the key in the cloud model and that cloud cannot survive without adequate network communications.
As we understand it, cloud is an on demand, highly scalable infrastructure which provides cost advantage when run by service providers in a multi-tenant environment, whereby different companies get together to share physical infrastructure and where computing is delivered as service via a pay-as-you-go model. The concept of cloud encompasses many different technologies and models, and building a cloud means supplying infrastructure to cloud providers and enterprises; lining up partnerships to help customers deploy cloud services; and developing platforms and technologies to accelerate cloud adoption through secure and collaborative access via different devices.
Building the Cloud
Adopting a cloud strategy first and foremost requires supplying critical infrastructure. It is important to integrate and un-complicate the build-out of next-generation datacentres by pre-packaging and certifying interoperability of servers, storage, networking and virtualization. There is also a need to have a well-defined and endorsed architectural blueprint to draw out infrastructure as a service. Collaborating on a platform to help service providers automate the provisioning of cloud services and making strategic acquisitions, enables organizations to offer cloud services along with products that automate delegation and enforcement of policies between virtual machines and physical assets.
Technically, the deployment and management of large-scale clouds requires virtualization upon which intelligence can be brought to bear. Since public and private cloud computing is specialized according to industry verticals, both will be defined and designed according to the regulatory and compliance mandates of those vertical markets. The other challenge to building clouds with the required speed, agility and security that make the model work is the need to create more intelligent networks that can accommodate the dramatic increase in end points, the increasingly dynamic nature of datacentre workloads, and the growing mobility of the end user.
The need of the hour is for the development of technology roadmaps that have advanced network products to provide the foundation for whatever type of cloud comes to dominate the market, be it large service provider clouds, enterprise clouds or private clouds hosted in a public space. Packaging cloud technology in customer-centric architectures, such as service provider, private or vertical, refinement of acquisition strategy with a focus on partnerships is critical.
Looking into the future
Despite the current level of frenzied activity, we're still at the beginning of cloud computing. Most enterprises are still contemplating on adopting the public cloud because they are uncomfortable with the lack of enterprise-class security and potential compliance issues and prefer their own private cloud. In today's economic environment, everyone is cost-conscious and wants everything to be pay as you go and pay only for what you use. This is true for both private and public clouds.
To provide the seamless, virtual experience that end users are expecting from the cloud, organizations can adopt a hybrid cloud model (and there will be many of these) but they will need to find a way to ensure that resources accessed through an outsource service provider are as readily available as those from on-premise. To this end, optimizing the connection between external cloud providers and internal IT resources through virtualization of the appliances developed for the enterprise physical infrastructure is critical.
To bridge the potential gap between online and on-premise environments, technologies like unified communications along with other collaboration, security and professional services will help organizations negotiate the complex technical requirements of building their own custom clouds. By coupling virtualization and automation technologies, with unified network services, the right foundation for building cloud services on top of the network can be provided to enterprises.
At the end of the day, adopting cloud architecture is all about 'business model transformation'. In order to achieve business agility for the next level of growth, organizations must ensure that they begin to work on a cloud reference architecture, which will define their winning strategy.