Seemingly everyone in the technology world, not to mention the C-suite, is talking about cloud computing. With the cloud’s perceived promise of agility, cost savings and effi ciency, these discussions aren’t surprising.
However, if one were to ask ten people, “What is cloud computing?” you would get 11 different answers. Of these answers, it’s quite likely that many of these answers will be correct, even if they vary dramatically.
While it’s convenient to have simple, user friendly catch phrases like “cloud computing,” the reality is that this blanket term spans a myriad of technologies and services. Cloud computing services cover a wide gamut of target users, functionalities, cost structures, security profiles and complexities.
In conversations with customers, the DLT Cloud Advisory Group is finding that many customers are familiar with the buzzwords. Unfortunately, when it comes to anything beyond buzzword compliance, many people are struggling with identifying exactly which aspects of cloud computing are going to provide the most value. Most people just don’t know where to begin when it comes to analyzing requirements, evaluating the diversity of cloud offerings and determining the specifics of implementation or migration.
Ignoring cloud for a moment, within the traditional data center, IT architects have a variety of tools available for creating IT services. They have RISC, x86, and ATOM and ARMbased processors. They have Windows, Linux, UNIX and mainframe operating systems.
They also have a number of choices for storage platforms, network designs, application servers, databases and development languages. The best thing about these choices is that in the hands of a skilled architect, these tools can be applied to solve real business problems.
Cloud services add a whole new collection of tools to the IT architect’s arsenal. These cloud services come in different service and delivery models, and each cloud service should be evaluated for a best fit for a new application.
Different cloud services also cater to different security profiles, developer environments, levels of control and types of applications. Each cloud service model has specific business and IT benefits, challenges and trade-off s. Before beginning to evaluate a cloud service, a common understanding of cloud terms and models is needed – a common taxonomy, if you will. To foster a common understanding of cloud computing, DLT Solutions has written Cloud Computing for Govies (http://www.dlt.com/cloudgovies). This book addresses questions like, “What is cloud computing?”; “What are the different service and delivery models?” and “What should be considered when evaluating options?”
This book removes the noise and focuses on the basics. It starts by framing the business case and provides the context for how cloud computing has emerged as a potentially compelling alternative to traditional computing models. Within this section, the difference between virtualization and cloud computing is explained – two models that are oft en mistakenly conflated. It also clarifies the different delivery models that range from on-premise, private clouds that are only available to a single agency, to Internet accessible public cloud services that are available to everyone.
There are lots of “Things as a Service” out there. When you peel back the layers of a cloud service and look at it from a target consumer and completeness of business value perspective, you will see patterns emerge. Cloud Computing for Govies breaks down the various models for cloud computing and distills them down into the three most common “as a service” models.
Namely, these three models are Soft ware, Platform, and Infrastructure as a Service. Each of these service models are given their own chapters, explaining the core benefits of each service type and providing examples of current usage within both private and public sector.
The book goes beyond the basics by presenting common cautions and considerations to keep in mind when evaluating different cloud computing platforms. For example, when evaluating cloud vendors, one should be aware that the Service Level Agreements and Terms of Service tend to be locked down and pre-defined, leaving little room for negotiation. Another tip the book provides is that when using nearly all cloud services, it is the responsibility of the consumer to monitor performance and availability. Data portability, the book goes on, can become a challenge when moving between cloud providers or even moving your data back into your own data center. The above tips and more are presented in the book along with the pros, cons, cautions and considerations for each of the three cloud service models covered in the book.
The evaluation of any technology should include a hard look at the security capabilities and how they relate to the business requirements. As such, an entire chapter is devoted to explaining the current realms of responsibility within data centers and mapping these realms to the cloud computing models. Like the different cloud services, there are a number of pros, cons, cautions and considerations when it comes to cloud security, and this chapter provides a foundation for beginning security conversations with cloud providers. In some cases, for example, security requirements may be such that public cloud is not even an option, and this chapter provides some guidance when the benefits of cloud computing are desired but the public offerings won’t suffice.
Each cloud service is designed to meet specific requirements. Some offer greater cost savings but may not provide the appropriate level of visibility, security or control. Others off er higher levels of security at the expense of elasticity and cost. The key is to find the best fit for the business requirements. The goal of Cloud Computing for Govies is to provide a solid foundation of vendor-neutral information that establishes a baseline of understanding, thereby enabling the effective selection of cloud computing.