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Related Topics: Cloud Computing, Cloud Interoperability

Cloud Computing: Article

The Importance of Many Clouds

The cloud market is dominated by a lot of startups

Looking forward to the Redhat Summit this week in Boston with a theme of “Platform, Middleware, Virtualization, Cloud”. The cloud market is dominated by a lot of startups, with some goliath-size companies still waiting in the wings. Depending your point of view, they are either lumbering dinosaurs unaware of the next evolutionary shift, or if you are like me, I think they are poised to strike. If you believe enterprise adoption is the next wave of cloud adoption, then these organizations have huge salesforces with deep customer relationships and services organizations capable of assisting enterprises with the transition to cloud. They have knowledge on the workload profiles that are the essential first step in determining what in the enterprise is suited to cloud deployment.

Many of the workloads running on the infrastructure of these vendors would require significant re-architecting to take advantage of the cloud. These workloads would most likely be the trailing adopters with the more urgent being redeveloped on a new infrastructure platform. If my previous employer (Sun Microsystems) grew up as the platform of choice for the Internet, then Redhat grew up in the era of the commodity architectures made famous by Google and the social networking phenoms. Redhat technology (Linux, JBoss, etc..) supports a large number of the more modern application workloads that are suitable for cloud deployment. They are not to be underestimated.

What I am looking forward to is some good discussion on the Aeolus Project,  “delta cloud” and cloud engine. It's the cloud's best kept secret, and you can find a good overview at the Redhat Cloud Blog. It comprises the vision of “many clouds” and its importance to the future of cloud computing. Redhat's API approach is trying to solve the problem by gathering a community around the interoperability API vs. building portability into a product or development of standards. I think this is a valuable approach.

Why is “many clouds” important ?

The events of April 21st had me thinking about this more over the last few days. A multi-vendor solution as assurance against failures like the one at Amazon Web Services is one use case, but its certainly not the most interesting. The seamless movement of workloads across many clouds will shape the future of cloud services.

  • Portability/Lock-in – reduce the barriers to adoption associated with fear of lock-in to a single vendor. Portability also reduces switching costs which creates greater price/function competitiveness, reducing overall customer costs.
  • Unification – for enterprise, its quite possible you have already deployed multiple flavors of virtualization technology. Some KVM, RHEV, some Hyper-V, Xen and some VMware. You will want to consolidate these into a single automation framework to preserve your investment in OS images and software stacks.
  • Federation - if you look at global infrastructure providers or even service organizations, you will often see different providers having different strengths in different regions. Just the regulatory, cost, political, language, cultural differences alone ensure this is inevitable. Companies might adopt different providers in different regions to leverage those strengths. Creating a federated solution of different providers in different regions is an essential solution for these companies.
  • Hybrids – private clouds often have some limitations is workload elasticity and resource pooling. The ability to leverage hybrid cloud solutions will be a useful solution to minimize these limitations.
  • Disaster Recovery - related to hybrids and Multi-Provider availability, it provides a practically implementable solution. A bridge between private and public clouds to enable hot, even better rapid scaling “warm” disaster solutions.
  • Multi-Provider Availability – finally we reach the “Amazon Effect”. A push to eliminate single vendor point of failure through the use of multiple clouds in your solution. For me, the complexity of this type of architecture far outweighs the benefits that can be obtained (sort of like having a two node cluster with one linux and one solaris node).

If you are @RedhatSummit and want to talk cloud, virtualization and smart infrastructure and the "many clouds" vision, come visit Armada at Booth #211 in the Exhibit hall.

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Brad Vaughan is a twenty year veteran consultant working with companies around the globe to transform technology infrastructure to deliver enhanced business services.