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Virtualized Data Center and Cloud Infrastructure

on Wednesday, 18 July 2012. Posted in Cloud

2 weeks ago I was in Dallas, TX for the Virtualized Data Center and Cloud Infrastructure course. Besides the nice weather and heat it was all about concepts, discussions and a lot of theory. So basically the course audience where architects, designers and consultants. It helps a lot if you have a lot of knowledge of virtualization. At the end virtualization is a true Cloud enabler they told me. ;-)

A trend that occurs at the moment, is that many companies desperately seeking partnerships or consolidate business needs. At least in health care they do. But I am assuming that this also happens in other areas as well. Finally, we are all sucked in to this game! As I previously mentioned; unfortunately, too often I hear people say 'let's Host', without motivation. It would not surprise me that it costs more misery than brings in money. A good initiative when it's well thought out. More then often this is not the case. Services such as Dropbox, Yammer or Google mail have less impact and are easy to achieve. But that's not what I'm talking about. The path to this direction, is much more interesting than arriving. And isn't this what Cloud partially is?

There is so much buzz about Cloud. You can almost feel the vibration and excitement, but there are also some myths. Cloud is cheaper, Totally not true! It highly dependent on what usage model you use. Next one; Cloud will do everything for you. No way, because it is relatively new, so you should think carefully what direction you take. Another one; Transform to the Cloud will change nothing. A lot will change. What if one of your mission critical applications move to the Cloud. If will certainly affect a lot of things. A storage administrator may no longer administer storage in the same way. Certain knowledge is no longer necessary and disappears along with your job.

But let's stay positive. The big advantage of cloud is speed and agility to the business. There are capital cost savings and also operational cost savings. From a business standpoint, it’s an increase in efficiency and control that comes from greater task automation. It’s more elastic and responsive, to meet changes of business. But again, there should be a huge understanding about what impact it could have. Data flows and ownership are key. They must be well documented and understood before any data leaves the data center and is placed in the cloud, in whatever form that may be. Somebody in your company must have some knowledge about Governance, Risks and compliances. Just as an example, traditional compliance model needs to drive the requirements for the security model which in turn drives the Cloud architecture not vice versa! This is a good read.

In the United States, every healthcare provider and every company that deals with protected healthcare information must adhere to the guidelines stipulated under the HIPAA act. HIPAA is designed to protect patient privacy, and does so by enforcing strict rules over how medical information is collected, handled, protected, used and disclosed. In the Netherlands we have, healthcare related, the NEN7510, Data Protection Act (WBP) and a more general ISO 27001. But I do not expect the first two to be Cloud aware.

Let's go back and dig into the the below Cloud Server Model.

In general, cloud services can be classified into the following types:

• Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS)

example: Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), terremark.com or (Dutch) terremark.nl

IaaS is a capability that provisions processing, storage, networks, and other fundamental computing resources.

• Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS)

example: force.com or AppEngine from Google: based on Python and Django

PaaS is the capability to deploy onto the cloud infrastructure consumer-created or acquired applications, which were created using programming languages and tools supported by the provider.

• Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)

example: salesforce.com or (Dutch) salesforce.com/nl

SaaS provides to the consumer the ability to use the provider’s applications running on a cloud infrastructure. Applications are accessible from various client devices through a thin client interface, such as a web browser

Each type is built upon the other. Each cloud service type can be functionality correlated within a technologystack. This technologystack begins with the foundation of the IT infrastructure and layered with other functions up to the application layer. If you want to use a public cloud, then it is fairly easy. Companies such as Amazone, Terremark, VMware, salesforce and many more are well organized. They serve you with a good Cloud solution. Most of them comply to Governance, Risks and Compliances. Basically you can start in every layer. SaaS is in my opinion the easiest one. What is more difficult than grap an application from the Cloud. But convince yourself because it is not always obvious. The right questions should be asked. If you make the choice for a private cloud it's not that easy. A lot will change. EMC and VMware call it 'The journey to the Cloud' which basically tells us; it's a shift from a production environment to IT-as-a-Services.

The first phase of virtualizing is to move from dedicated resources to consolidated resources. This includes: employing virtualized servers, tiered SAN, and partially integrated management. The result is reduced power and space costs in the data center as well as increased storage and virtualization administrator productivity.

The next step takes a consolidated environment and operationalizes it. This includes employing tiered virtual servers and storage optimization structured in resource pools based on security, availability, performance, and governance requirements. Integrated management and security are key enablers for success at this level of optimization.

The last step is to transition from a fully shared, tiered infrastructure that is self-service, multi-tenant, and service based. End users can potentially bind different services together from the service catalog. In this phase, costs are transparent to the end user. Pay as you go. However, there is either a full fine grained chargeback to show the business exactly what services are consumed by whom. GRC (Governance, Regulations, and Compliance) are also embedded into the services.

As the business shifts to an IT-as-a-Service model, new roles may emerge. In the virtualized environment, the role of the administrator has evolved. The role of infrastructure manager will be covered by architects who will: design the VDC/Cloud, administer across the layers. As things become more automated, orchestration and capacity management will grow in importance.

What I see is a trend to new roles for existing resources. Cloud is coming, with all its advantages and disadvantages. We can not deny it anymore. Make sure you're ready for this change. Convince management that IT is changing. If they don't see it, you're probably already too late!

 

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