Saturday, 1 August 2009

The 6 M’s of Cloud oriented services

Looking at aspects of cloud computing has brought in many different operating characteristics under the spot light. What architects refer to as the “ilities” of services and marketers the “messaging”; the resulting service levels and blurring of marketarhicture has caused some greyness around how to define operating features for a cloud environment.

Differentiation of the service providers is evolving together with new technology features starting to appear under a cloud oriented portfolio. Two or three camps are emerging between services to enable clouds (typically other providers cloud platforms) and providers of cloud services and platforms. An intervening debate currently is whether there is a third segment of the market that involves brokering and aggregating cloud services, term also seen as Orchestration in this space.

A fundamental question is how to move to offer cloud services that recognize the cost benefits of IT operations but also can affect and build the business services that business want to drive. I saw a great phase recently about IT Services stating “too much green field thinking in projects” as a cause for difficulty in IT service lifecycle management. Often the incumbent brown field operation and IT estate would not just go away and vanish and the project implementing new or enhanced systems and solutions acted in a separate fashion to the deployment environment view. This is great truism of IT in that many aspects of service needs to bridge between what is being build and ran in IT and how business uses and might want to change rapidly or strategically to build new business capabilities. Cloud computing if nothing else does commoditize aspects of the hardware and software and starts to enable business service centric design and consumption patterns based on business service levels and business level consumption.

I have mentioned the word cloud services as if this is a defined term of the industry when in fact it is still an evolving term. To pick one visible development in the US with the NIST they term a design and deployment taxonomy that included the terms IaaS, PaaS, SaaS and the delivery models described in public, community, private and hybrid clouds ( ). But these definitions are architectural and don’t fully describe how services operate across these tiers of technology or the virtual or physical placement of the hosting of these services. In short, how these cloud services are seen from the perspective of business services to business.

I think these are still being characterized by the design of boundary management between the APIs, the platforms and the participants involved (internal, external or a mixture of communities). SOA defined an IT centric state of services and took a path towards IT services enablement. The Service contracts defined are now potentially being broaden out into Cloud contracts that take onboard the aspects of

So what would be the features in such a cloud contract?

I see at least six component characteristics which push the thinking of business services through the use of cloud in what I term the 6 M’s of cloud oriented services: Multi-tasking, Multiplexing, Multiplicity , Multi-Tenancy, Multi-casting and Multi-key.

· Multi-tasking

o The term multi-tasking is used here to mean the feature of repurposing the IT assets and functions to the service to what is required at the time of use. Virtualization enables logical provisioning of IT services and the recognition of assets to mean different purposes.

· Multiplexing

o This is the balancing of workloads and performance based on the actual usage of the service and not the forecast (termed statistical Multiplexing in the University of California Berkley paper Above the clouds in Feb 2009 )

· Multiplicity

o This is an interesting feature that extends the work to do in more than one instance of that work. Or to put it another way it is possible to simultaneously run many workloads depending on the service needs. Selected tasks or complex processes can be moved to the cloud. This promotes the idea of not just performing specific tasks constrained by your current task but also the possibility to run other alternative tasks scenarios. This is a new way of thinking made possible by cloning instances and services in a on-demand elastic capacity environment.

· Multi-tenancy

o The tenancy of a service can be dedicated or part of a shared community environment. Multi-tenancy extends the definition of tenancy into a definition of the tenancy in one location that can be used and representing many tenant locations. The central idea is efficiency of specification and variations to support business services for many users.

· Multi-casting

o This feature is to some extent a feature of multi-tenancy at the network level and how services can be delivered in an efficient and enterprise perspective. Multi-casting is a network capability to delivery information to a group of nodes simultaneously in an efficient way that delivers messages once and copies to multiple destinations. Used in streaming media and other IP multicast IP routing this aspect of services needs to consider the boundary of cloud service delivery at the network that may involve 3rd party networks and cloud platforms.

· Multi-Keys

o In enterprise level services the need to address large groups of security policies and user groups is a feature that needs to consider the complexity of identity and authentication services. Public and private key encryption has aspects that need administration in the context of cloud services.