Saturday, 31 January 2009

What is Cloud Computing?

A description of the cloud

 Cloud computing is an emerging new trend in computing and information management services.  The development of the  cloud has really moved into full throttle in 2009 as the consolidating of virtualization of IT hardware and software moves into a new paradigm for on-demand business.

The concept for on-demand is not new and had been used by major companies such as IBM and to drive home a new service delivery model with agile and responsive service. 

But what is less obvious is the definition of what exactly is Cloud computing?  Its used liberally to describe a number of features and capabilities but there appears to be an implied assumption that "it’s cloud computing".

Cloud computing is a emerging term that can be described in the following key breakdown of features.

·         Cloud is a new business model for IT services  provisioning

o   It is more than the service consumer producer model of SOA and builds on the components and exchange protocols of the internet and integration of systems with common standards such as XML IP, URL, WS, REST and MAC addresses and formats.

o   It’s an extension of the IT architecture to become a complete environment  that can be offered at as a service.  Cloud computing is the emergence of a Platform as a Service combining the resources and assets of a platform architecture of offering this through a defining provisioning process as a service.  While the definitions of “as a Service” vary widely, the core principle is that any aspect of the people, , skills, process, technology or the operation and service can be “as a service” potentially.

·         Cloud is an “elastic” deployment framework  as well as a solution architecture

o   A “cloud solution” has additional components that enable the architecture to be deployed in a highly scalable and consumable way.

o   These additional components are a set of tools and standards that support massive parallel and scaleable foundations for the service. These included encapsulated tiers of the architecture that allow elastic scaling (what is sometimes also terms non-linear independence growth potential such that the number of users or load on the system is independent of the physical architecture. You just keep on scaling the “grid” to support expanding or contracting capacity demand.)

o   A core new feature of this encapsulation is the creation of a meta level description  of the architecture itself as part of the solution definition.  This concept while part of the semantic web ideas it potentially changes the static models of EAB, CMDB and WS*/REST/XML etc components into a integrated whole.  You provision at the architecture level of service.

·         Cloud is a “pay as you” go mentality

o   The economic paradigm of cloud is a move from Capex to Opex commercial arrangements

o   This fundamentally shifts the location of competitive advantage from asset ownership to also include asset usage.  What this means is that the transition to a on-demand service operating model will redefine the way support and licensing models will work and be measured.

·         Cloud is a marketplace commercial model

o   “Cloud solutions” are characterised by membership of a catalogue , configuration and connection with a expanding community of contributors and users.

o   Cloud solutions are typically designed for large scale use across multiple environments and users.  The conditions of use and technology often create current limitations of the range of machine images, proprietary versus open code base languages supported.

o   In the marketplace operating model the location of the service can be on-premise and off-premise and include a combination of both.

o   Cloud can include the  platform for BPO and industry as a Service.

o   The marketplace model is extended to knowledge management and collaboration in a virtual marketplace sense. The new business models of cloud include the role of service aggregator and service broker as well as service infrastructure provider.

o   A consequence of this provisioning model is the implications of the security and reliability of the service become paramount. The federated identify management and security management of company assets has to be able to withstand remote access and contiguous user access across multiple services.   The reliability of backup, recovery and consistency of service has to build into an environment that can be multi-tenant shared between multiple users with variable service level requirements. This places additional stresses and complexity of operation to preserve the compliance and performance requirements.

·         Cloud is an  industrialization of IT framework

o   The definition of a cloud service by its very existence needs to have an integrated specification of the design and run time environment in order to support a defined and clear “on-demand” capability.     For example when I select a catalogue service and request a new cloud environment it should just automatically or semi-automatically go and provision this service.  In order to do this the operating specification of the cloud service has to be stable, robust and known. 

o   The provision of cloud solutions means a definition of the architecture that is parametric and within a managed service environment.  This is to get the benefits of optimal load balancing versus the pay for what you use and need supporting rather than what you own mentality of Cloud.

o   The industrialization is more than a standardization of tools and solutions service delivery life cycle  but also extends to the productization lifecycle of exiting and new IT products and service into and out of the cloud ecosystem.

·         Cloud is a resource management framework

o   The project management and software development lifecycles are extended to include resource management lifecycle as an implicit set of inputs and outputs of the total service delivery framework.

o   The generation of reusable assets and capacity become a derived activity of the cloud based services.  

o   Construction and destruction of solutions and capacity are a feature of this world and cloud supports the notion of destructible or disposable software and hardware as a design pattern.  Reuse is not just from repeatable use of common solutions where appropriate but also in the ability to construct rapid environments and solutions leveraged utility style components and tools

·         Cloud is a collaboration orchestration framework

o   Really a feature of marketplace and industrialization beyond the four walls of a business operation. The cloud is a next generation forum of what supply chain and consumer and producer experience is rapidly becoming. An on-line interaction place where our daily lives , transactions, provisioning, acquisition of knowledge and wealth is increasingly the norm.

o   The cloud provides points of aggregation and brokering that is more than the individual participants. It is a development of the standards and services to include multiple (cloud) resourcing, alternatives, substitutions and communities in domestic  and commercial markets.

1 comment:

  1. Mark, you may find this interesting:


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