Cloud on demand

DQW Bureau
05 Jul 2010
New Update


While the notion is true that cloud infrastructures is poised to

revolutionize the way we access technology, it is also true that it is a vast

area and enterprises often grapple with understanding its full potential. The

ever increasing complexity of data centers coupled with the massive growth of

data is leading to an increase in resources required to store, process, optimize

and serve information back to end users when required. Organizations have

rapidly adopted virtualization and are now looking at cloud delivery service

models to reduce costs, increase flexibility and improve their time to market.

To keep pace with today's competitive marketplace, enterprises require

greater flexibility and agility than their traditional storage architectures can

provide. This, coupled with explosive unstructured content growth, is driving

organizations to look toward instant IT delivery models.

On-demand IT Delivery

In the move towards on-demand IT delivery, it hasn't taken long for

customers to recognize the benefits of private, hybrid or public cloud models,

the most tangible being significant cost savings. From a capital expenditure

perspective, organizations tend to over-purchase to deal with the ebb and flow

of storage and resource requirements to support the business. This often leaves

them with an abundance of underutilized hardware assets. The ability of cloud

infrastructures to grow and contract storage resources, in tune with the

business needs, minimizes this upfront capital expense, moving them from 'fixed

costs' to 'variable costs'.


If we take a look at the operational costs, 'hidden costs', the data growth

and complexity to manage traditional IT environments has emerged. Customers can

reduce much of this operational expenditure by deploying cloud models and

leveraging cloud managed services, paying only for what they consume and

eliminating the day-to-day management tasks altogether.

While on-demand access to computing resources is what the industry is

striving for, it also poses concern and risk for IT organizations. This can be

very disruptive to business process and control. If business users begin to

outsource to cloud providers in order to get faster support, sensitive

information could be put at risk. To mitigate this risk, IT organizations should

be thinking about developing an internal cloud enabled architecture to provide

greater business agility, in addition to a process for ad hoc projects that

require to be outsourced to a public or hybrid cloud provider. This way they can

move into the cloud in a controlled and orderly manner mitigating associated



There are many deployment choices to consider for moving into the cloud.

Private cloud: For simplicity, let's define a private cloud as cloud enabled

infrastructure within the physical walls of a data center. A private cloud can

provide many of the benefits of cloud without the security risks associated with

public deployments. Because it is accessed over an internal network or intranet,

it's as secure as the rest of the data. Since one controls it and the

environment around it (ie networks, servers, etc), one can achieve enterprise

level SLAs. But one do sacrifice some of the operational cost savings such as

physical floor space, power, and cooling. Unless one is leveraging a managed

service one is also subject to management overhead.

Hybrid cloud: Now let's take a look at the hybrid or trusted cloud, which we

will define as infrastructure that resides at a trusted service provider. In

this case, access is limited to appropriate resources in one's organization and

delivered over a virtual private network or a secure Internet connection. Since

the infrastructure is out of the organization's direct control, service levels

could be impacted by external factors. Customers also need to think about the

physical security of the environment, which is why it is important to understand

the service provider's processes and requirements around physical access.


Public cloud: Lastly, the public cloud can be described similarly to the

hybrid, except that there is usually more general access over the Internet

providing limited security. Many public cloud offerings are quite inexpensive or

sometimes even free and SLAs are generally not guaranteed or measured

differently than how an enterprise measures their SLAs. Additionally, value

added services and features such as encryption, compression, back-up, tiering

and replication are not available from public providers as they are from private

or hybrid cloud providers.

What Makes a Cloud?

Regardless of the type of cloud, there are some key features every cloud

platform should have. Firstly, it is a secure, direct connection to get data

into the cloud, such as a representational state transfer (REST) interface or an

on-ramp to connect applications to the cloud without requiring application

recoding. REST is an approach for getting information content from a website by

reading a designated web page that contains an Extensible Markup Language (XML)

file that describes and includes the desired content. There also needs to be

multitenancy capabilities to logically segregate the data, so that SLAs can be

assigned to specific data types or applications. The cloud should also have

namespaces with access rights and security layers to prevent unauthorized

access. Depending on the provider, some clouds offer value added features like

compression and single instancing to improve cost savings, encryption to provide

greater security and billing and chargeback for organizations or service

providers that wish to bill each business unit or organization based on


IT services are generally held to service level standards for availability,

reliability and integrity. Augmenting or replacing 'legacy' IT services with

cloud services require the same quality guarantees. Although, managed cloud

services allow customers to focus less on the storage management it is critical

that customers include an expected quality of service in their contracts with

cloud providers. Not all cloud providers measure SLAs the same way, so it's

important to ask how they quantify their SLAs.


Given some of the trade-offs between the various cloud deployment models, how

does one identify the most appropriate candidates for deployment? One should

start by identifying the data in one's environment that generally has lower

business value and lower SLA requirements. For example, think of data types like

home directory shares, static data or backup content that can be moved from

onsite 'primary' to cloud 'secondary' storage.

One can get immediate cost savings by moving this peripheral data-data that

doesn't require active management or constant read/write access to the cloud. It

is unnecessary to pay such high administrative and management overhead for this

non-business critical data. frees up resources to focus on the core business

applications, improving operational efficiency and utilization of one's existing

assets. Next, it allows one's organization to gain experience and develop best

practices for cloud deployments. Lastly, it allows one to move toward the core,

tier-1 applications at one's own pace.

Sunil Chavan

The author is Director, Software Group & Cloud Solutions, Asia Pacific,

Hitachi Data System

(Source: DQ)