I wanted to do a post simply based on some of the technologies which have facilitated this vision of… the cloud and to look at some of those things in isolation with a view to understanding the bigger picture.
IT is at an interesting crossroads at the moment, there is a whisper in the wind accumulating Clarity and momentum by the day. A whisper which tells us that the way people think about IT is changing. The concept of the cloud is not a new one, but its shape and purpose have differed quite dramatically depending on who you talk to. For the moment at least and for the various vendor channels, its been very much business as usual. People are still buying tin, assessing the viability of virtualization, putting out to tender for the traditional server/SAN type solutions and vendors will continue to cater for those traditional needs. However, Vendors have also been doing something else… better defining this cloud thing, how they can commoditise it, slap a price tag on it, stick it in a box and sell it.
Lets look at some of these technologies which have been developed to facilitate this transition.
Virtualisation on the whole giving us the ability to better utilise tin and deploy new virtual servers with speed and ease. VMWare’s Vmotion/Dynamic power management/Distributed Resource Scheduling gives us the ability to move virtual servers between physical servers without disruption for any number of reasons (DPM allows us to reduce our power requirements by moving virtual servers onto a lesser number of physical machines, powering down machines left unused, as and when the business deems it suitable. DRS allows us to distribute virtual servers dynamically between physical servers based on the resource requirements of the virtual server). This mobility allows the business be flexible and adaptive. The advent of virtualisation also allows us to in effect commiditise resource, be it memory, CPU resource or storage and distribute that in the most effective manner possible.
Storage has become something which is intelligent. Virtualisation and automation technologies in the storage world have given storage platforms the ability to adapt. Things like thin provisioning and online archive give us the ability to make better use of storage. Also players like compellent and EMC with their FAST technology gives storage the edge by digging down into the bare blocks of storage and moving individual blocks of data between fast/expensive and cheaper/high density storage based on how often those blocks of data are being access and their IOPS requirements. Deduplication, again another technology allowing transparency to the user while efficiently storing data.
Mobility. VMWare again, with virtual desktops being delivered on demand to where-ever the user needs it and maintaining access to all their bits and pieces. IP telephony and VPN, giving the external user the ability to access all the resources of the internal user and be as mobile as they need to. With networking capabilities becoming ever more efficient and robust also with things like 10GbE anf FCoE coming to the market, the datacenter is able to consolidate their network infrastructure and provide resources to the user in ever more efficient and increasingly more intelligent ways.
Here are a couple of video’s just showing some deployments of IP telephony and virtual desktops and the likes which I found interesting :
Here’s a very cool way in which Subway have deployed IP telephony in their setup
and a video showing VMware virtual desktop offering
Management. We’re seeing integration between the network, the serverside and the storage in a big way. You can now manage EMC storage from within VMWare, VMware have pulled Ionix into their portfolio meaning they can manage physical and virtual infrastructure. Again, Ionix have released the unified infrastructure Manager which can manage Cisco Nexus networking tin, VMWare and EMC Storage. Meaning that not only can you have all these separate and different technologies working as one, but you can manage them as one.
Here’s a video showing the fore mentioned Ionix Unified infrastructure manager
EMC/VMWare/Cisco have their offering with the Vblock, Netapp are hot on the tails of EMC and microsoft and HP/Lefthand are all working to a common goal (in competition with eachother ofcourse). To be right where its happening when service providers take a the next step from providing telecoms, disaster recovery, software as a service.. and start providing effectively resource as a service, infrastructure as a service.
When organisations are comfortable that they trust a 3rd party to host their applications, their user data and their desktops even, any vendor worth their salt wants to be there. Before long, we won’t be asking customers what switches, servers and storage they want. We’ll be asking broader questions… How many IOPS do you want ? how much memory ? how much computing power you need ? and how much bandwidth you want? How many people do you want to be able to make phone calls ? This adaptable, mobile architecture we’re seeing now will be doing the math…. Service Providers will be selling virtual commodities.
Below is a video by Gartner, with some of their analysts discussing some of the points of cloud computing :
Ofcourse, we’re a little while away from seeing that happen in the mainstream, a little way away from seeing the masses flock to these service providers. People like to have control over their data, they know that if its in a rack they can walk up to and touch.. they have control. The market needs to have confidence in this concept that is the cloud… and again, there are businesses who understand and are comfortable with this concept and have adopted it with aspects of their business. But when people start entrusting there critical core business applications, which are bound to OLA’s and SLA’s… this is when it will get really exciting.