By Massimo Re Ferre’, Staff Systems
Engineer – vCloud Architect
I have been working in IT for about 15
years now, nine of which I have spent working with customers to get the maximum
out of VMware enterprise technologies in the x86 space. I have always said that
virtualization has been a cornerstone in this “PC space”. Yes, some still call
this platform a "PC," go figure. As part of this journey, I have
heard many professionals ask, "is this the latest buzz-word or is there
something substantial to the Cloud?” Yes, there is something substantial to it.
I really think that the word Cloud has
gained a bad reputation among some IT people simply because it's been used (or
I should say abused?) a lot. That's why, whenever I enter into such debates, I
tend to move the discussion towards what I believe Cloud really means. Cloud
may mean many different things to many of you but fundamentally the word Cloud
resembles a number of very tangible aspects you deal with (or you would like to
deal with) on a daily basis within your data centers. To name a few, the most
- Self provisioning of resources;
- Pay per use;
- Independence of IT resources
There are obviously more but these are
among the most important. Talking to people, I have the impression that most of
them associate the word Cloud with the concept of being able to consume resources
from outside the organization’s boundaries. Not necessarily wrong, but Cloud is
much more than that. As a matter of fact, there are really good discussions
within enterprises today about creating Private Clouds within the data center
boundaries – the exact opposite of the typical Cloud "perception"
(i.e. provisioning resources from the outside). There are many other things
that define a Cloud (see the list above) which goes well beyond the
"Independence of IT resources location".
One of the things VMware has been very
active with is the definition of standards in the Cloud space through the
vCloud APIs. These describe a standard way for end-users to consume compute
resources that are provided by an external organization (a.k.a. service provider).
Leveraging this concept, one of the thinsg we are very obsessed with at VMware
is the possibility to provide federation (through the standard vCloud APIs) between
Private Clouds and Public Clouds, effectively empowering organizations with a
single homogeneous view of distributed resources. Those resources can be tin
their own facility or in service providers’ facilities. Do you think this is
just a recent Cloud marketing hype? Have a look at the following picture:
At first it doesn’t really look shocking as
it summarizes many of the concepts we have already digested in the last few
years. I am referring in particular to the powerful concept of decoupling
applications and workloads from the physical infrastructure (servers, network
and storage). What it is interesting though about this picture is the fact that
it’s a slide from a deck I presented back in 2004 at an IT congress. Not only
that, specifically interesting is the comment in red at the bottom of it: “On-demand
ready: you can buy it, rent it, share it (or a mix of this)”.
Isn’t that one of the many attributes (“Independence
of IT resources location”) we are pitching today for Cloud computing?
The point I am trying to make is that this is not hype. This is what
virtualization enables you to achieve! It’s for real. I wasn’t trying to create
hype back then. I was just working with customers to redesign their datacenters
using virtualization technologies. We could easily see, six years ago, where
this foundation would have brought us to from an architectural perspective.
If you are skeptical about the word Cloud
please try to take a step forward and dive a little deeper into what the Cloud
really is. You may very well find out that what we call Cloud is the collage of
functionalities you have been dreaming about for the last 10 years. At that
point you may find it a bit less of a hype… and a bit more of a end-goal for
Don’t fear the Cloud. The Cloud is good.