The term “the cloud” colloquially refers to a nebulous blob of some computing superpower unbeknownst to the common man. Such a mysterious superpower can obviously only be accessed through the interwebz, a prerequisite to using “the cloud.” The interwebz is accessed through various intertubes and other such mystical infrastructures.
I would especially like to thank Microsoft for imparting us commoners with such advanced knowledge of “the cloud,” by encouraging us to go “to the cloud.” I’d also like to show gratitude to the numerous other marketeers in “the cloud” space, if such an oxymoron exists, that have shown us the light in modern computing. Perhaps only one question remains – how can I download “the cloud” offline?
Obviously, such a campaign is geared for the consumer, so perhaps we shouldn’t be so hard on the marketeers. But, for someone in the cloud computing industry, the one statement that seems to consistently get under our skins is “the cloud,” and therefore it must die.
To us, cloud computing is so much more than this mystique of billowy marketing fluff, and most of the press and buzzwords seem so public cloud centric and biased. In our daily lives, especially in an emerging and cutting-edge market, I would like to address these buzzwords from a slightly different perspective – a private cloud perspective. I present my own bias and my own case below.
Cloud Computing: It should be simple, and not so public cloud biased. So many definitions reference the Internet, but why? Is the Internet a prerequisite to cloud computing? Us private cloud bigots would beg to differ. So I would like to clear the air and offer my simplistic definition. Cloud Computing is a computing environment where shared IT resources are accessed via a network interface. No interwebz required.
Private Cloud: A shared computing environment that exists “in-house,” and behind an organization’s firewall. Where many definitions get this wrong is that they assume private cloud is an all virtualized environment. This couldn’t be further from the truth, and in fact, a good private cloud solution should include both virtual and physical (or bare-metal) provisioning.
Multi-tenancy: Ability for a single cloud implementation to treat pieces or parts of an organization as individual instances, even if data is stored in a single location. While this is also a tenant of public cloud, it’s potentially an important piece of private cloud architecture. I do believe that multi-tenancy is a bit overblown at times, especially in the private cloud world, where organizations feel they must have it because public cloud architecture have it. Multi-tenancy is a requirement for public cloud, but for private cloud, we’re all on the same team, right? Not necessarily, where different segments of an organization may not be privy to, or need to be protected from, other parts of the organization. I don’t want my accounting team clearing out my intertubes, right?
Hybrid Cloud: I’ve seen hybrid cloud referenced in two ways. First, it’s been used to represent a mix of physical and virtual provisioning. The hybrid term used in this way seems to be dying out, and for good reason. As I mentioned before, a good cloud solution should have both physical and virtual provisioning. The general consensus on the definition seems to be a mix of both private and public cloud. I think hybrid cloud is all the hype right now, especially since the Toyota Prius doesn’t monopolize the word hybrid anymore. It will be interesting to see if hybrid clouds take off. Intuitively, most large organizations are going to gravitate towards private cloud for obvious reasons – customizability, control, and security, among many other things. Mixing both could undermine those reasons, but at the same time, some workloads might very well be suited for public cloud.
Cloud Bursting: Concept that any overcharging or overbooking can burst over to another cloud instance or even public cloud. I think cloud bursting will become more prevalent in private cloud, but for now, it still has yet to be proven out. I think bursting between cloud instances will probably become commonplace, but for reasons aforementioned (customizability, control, security, etc.), I don’t think cloud bursting to public cloud providers will be very common.
Auto-Migration: The movement of services between hardware when triggered by an event. Auto-migration is very important for maximum utilization and can be an important component of consolidating resources, if you’re trying to be more energy efficient with your private cloud implementation. If they inverse is true, and you want maximum performance, auto-migration is important to spread server load out as much as possible to allow for as much headroom as possible.
Self-Healing: The ability for your cloud service, whether experiencing hardware failure, provisioning failure, etc., to automatically handle failures and not lose the service or data. While important for hardware vendors too, it’s especially important for software vendors since so many things can go wrong during provisioning, auto-migration, etc.
And there you have it, my definition for some of the private cloud buzzwords floating around. Even though some definitions are still emerging, new terms and concepts are being thrown around since we’re still in an emerging market. Being as fast paced as this cutting-edge industry is, there are still times we may have to solve our woes by going “to the cloud,” whatever that means.