Well, at least for me. I just attend the 2nd Annual Cloud Computing World Forum in London this week and after dozens of presentations, many conversations at the stand, and sifting through all the conference material, I believe my understanding of cloud is ‘less cloudy.’ Why? Because cloud computing is not just one thing that you can point to; it’s many use cases and I think I heard almost all of them here, from cloud bursting to SaaS services. But one thing that became clear is that cloud can be almost anything so long as ‘shared resources’ form its underpinnings.
Other than shared resources, there was another thing about cloud computing that also became clear to me at the conference - all cloud implementations tend to have three key capabilities. The first is the capability to manage resources. This means the management tools implementing cloud must be able to recognize all types of resources – or in other words heterogeneous resources. Cloud management tools must be able to manage these heterogeneous resources through provisioning mechanisms, whether physical or virtual. The second is the capability to manage the software stack, or at least part of the software stack. Monitoring utilization data characteristics from physical resources is common, but monitoring utilization data in the software stack is less common, and certainly not generally inclusive of the entire software stack (IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS) under a single tool. But even if there were a single management tool that could monitor the entire software stack and had a dashboard that could clearly communicate the state of each tier within the stack, manual changes to the infrastructure to improve performance and efficiency would still be necessary. So this brings up a third capability that is needed: the ability to manage changes in the infrastructure through a set of policies. That is, to automatically make application and platform resource adjustments at any level in the software stack in order to improve utilization and efficient.
Well, at least this is what I learned. When I talk about cloud I will be thinking about all three capabilities in management solutions. It doesn’t matter which use case or how big or little your use case is, if you can include all three of these basic cloud capabilities you will have a more efficient cloud. Of course the ‘got to be open’, and ‘work with key partners’ practices are always important too. But for cloud, I’m basing the best solution based on principle.
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