Cloud // Infrastructure as a Service
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11/21/2013
09:06 AM
Joe Weinman
Joe Weinman
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Get Ready For Internet Of Clouds

The IEEE wants to establish sufficient standards for cloud users to be able to move between services.

CIOs are already addressing the opportunities and challenges of cloud computing. It is now time to consider the next phase of the cloud: the Intercloud. In the same way the Internet enabled interoperability between proprietary networks, the Intercloud will enable proprietary clouds to interoperate, and it will encourage third-party services such as cloud marketplaces.

The IEEE is developing the IEEE P2302™ Standard for Intercloud Interoperability and Federation. Also, a recently announced complementary IEEE Intercloud Testbed initiative is under way to ensure that the standards work under real-world conditions. A number of interesting technologies and concepts, such as the eXtensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP) and the Resource Description Framework (RDF), are under evaluation as part of a comprehensive architecture and engineering plan. However, the real value of the Intercloud ultimately lies in the benefits to cloud customers and the providers and vendors that service them. These benefits will come into focus as standards and technology mature in the years ahead. Nevertheless, a few major ones can be identified now.

One key benefit might well be simplicity. Similar to the way IP provided a lingua franca that eased distributed application development, the Intercloud can provide a layer of abstraction and standardization that might further reduce complexity, accelerate development, and increase manageability. In other words, IT shops will increase their productivity and agility.

[ Vendors should want standardization, too. Read Cloud Standards: Bottom Up, Not Top Down. ]

IT organizations will also accelerate their time to market as they are able to use the Intercloud to create complex workflows and composite services based on end-to-end applications forged from multiple cloud providers at multiple layers. Reduced time to market, in turn, can translate into lower cost, lower risk, higher marketshare (and thus revenue), and greater profit. Moreover, such composed capabilities will be able to leverage best-in-breed capabilities, regardless of provider.

CIOs will benefit from stronger cloud service provider capabilities as providers augment their footprint, enhance availability through on-demand sister sites in specific metropolitan areas, acquire additional virtual capacity in the event of demand spikes, or recover capacity lost to outages or disasters. Footprint augmentation can be done transparently through federation with resources and capabilities from other providers that meet its customer requirements.

By enabling portability of workloads across clouds, Intercloud standards will also reduce issues -- real or perceived -- associated with provider lockin, enabling CIOs to switch cloud providers with minimal overhead based on their evolving requirements and selection criteria. This will be beneficial to cloud service providers, because it will remove one of the remaining barriers to cloud adoption. In some cases, it will also help drive a shift to cloud-neutral co-location facilities, due to data transport costs between non-co-located providers and additional data gravity concerns such as latency.

By facilitating the development of cloud markets, CIOs will be able to switch providers to optimize cost continuously in a world of price volatility due to pricedowns and dynamic pricing such as for-spot instances. A quantitative analysis I recently performed shows that, in such a world, markets don't need to be very large. A market with only four providers can offer 60 percent of the financial benefit of one with an extremely large number of service providers.

In the event of severe cloud provider operational issues or bankruptcies, such as what happened with Nirvanix, customers will have an easier time moving processing capacity and stored data and objects to solvent providers. CIOs will also improve their business continuity and disaster recovery posture, as they create enterprise architectures that leverage multiple providers. This will help to insure against outages that span a single provider, typically due to software, upgrade, or configuration issues. Such provider diversity will also help drive technology diversity, leading to reduced risk.

CIOs will have a greater choice of providers. The expertise required to develop for and operate each individual, proprietary cloud will give way to greater cloud flexibility and greater generality of developer/operations skills.

Anyone following cloud computing knows that it is increasingly being adopted by a broad variety of businesses ranging from SMBs to global enterprises. This next phase in the evolution of the cloud will help make cloud computing even better suited to enterprise adoption.

Joe Weinman is a senior vice president at Telx, the author of Cloudonomics: The Business Value of Cloud Computing, chairman of the IEEE Intercloud Testbed executive committee, and a regular InformationWeek contributor.

Want to relegate cloud software to edge apps or smaller businesses? No way. Also in the new, all-digital Cloud Software: Where Next? special issue of InformationWeek: The tech industry is rife with over-the-top, groundless predictions and estimates (free registration required).

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Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
11/21/2013 | 9:22:04 AM
Where are the big dogs?
Joe, interesting post. Where do VMware, Amazon, Microsoft ad Google stand with regard to this standard? For or against?
jweinman0791
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jweinman0791,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/22/2013 | 5:50:24 AM
Re: Where are the big dogs?
Hi Laurianne...hopefully the major cloud service providers will realize that standards such as these ultimately will benefit them as well as customers and will help shape the standards via IEEE standards development processes.
Susan Fogarty
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Susan Fogarty,
User Rank: Author
11/21/2013 | 10:00:59 AM
Cloud security
Joe, it's great to see you here. While I was reading, I kept waiting for you to mention security, because it seems improved security would be a benefit of this standardization. What are the security implications?
BrettReif
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BrettReif,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/21/2013 | 5:40:44 PM
Re: Cloud security
Hi there Susan,

While I can't speak to the IEEE standardization of security protocols, I hope I can address some of the implications around intercloud security. I read your question to be regarding the integration and implementation of intercloud solutions for enterprise organizations.

Many are concerned by the perceived loss of control that comes along with cloud infrastructure and services. It's natural to be fearful with new untested tech developments. However, with foresight, implementation and traditional enterprise controls, putting the intercloud "pipes" between endpoints will more likely than not have very little impact on enterprise security or misappropriation of data. Sensitive company and customer data, will be as safe as it ever was... or wasn't.

With the incredibly high levels of encryption that are moving data from point A to B (or C/D/Etc.) the majority of security concerns will remain where they have always been... with the people using the services at each endpoint. The adoption of Cloud technology does present many in an organization to unwittingly [or knowingly] blast the world with sensitive information. However, with many of the Intercloud Manager Platforms that are being built currently, we will be able to attain more flexibility and visibility into difficult to enforce security and compliance policies... even more so as those change over time. It will be easier than ever to monitor activity across an organization's technology stack.

If we open up scenarios of integration among companies (ie the airline scenario from Joe's recent Forbes article here) the traditional perception of information ownership might get a little trickier.

If I missed the mark on your concern let me know. Love chatting about the intercloud :)
Susan Fogarty
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Susan Fogarty,
User Rank: Author
11/22/2013 | 9:52:16 AM
Re: Cloud security
Brett, thanks so much for your thoughtful response. Yes, I was definitely asking in terms of enterprise security. I was envisioning Intercloud as something akin to a VPN, so I thought it might give enteprises more privacy and control over some portion of the cloud. I think a lot of the concerns about cloud security are not user-related, but more about where data lives and whether its susceptible to attack. So applying policies and certain protections would be very helpful -- is that something the manager platforms will provide?
BrettReif
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BrettReif,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/23/2013 | 5:13:59 AM
Re: Cloud security
Interesting question... and this has a lot to do with defining and refining what the intercloud will be to the majority of adopters as this space develops. The intercloud will be an integration of online events, actions and data "flows" that provide for more collaboration amongst online or even on-premise software services that were previously unconnected.

Intercloud data won't create a new place where the data lives per se. It will just open up the potential places you can flow data between the separate services you already use (or would like to use). The platforms being created will create dynamic connections and provide much more flexibility in assigning the rules around automating the movement of information. For instance:

- Qualifying a social marketing lead and transfering info from LinkedIn to Salesforce

- Monitoring websites and Twitter for brand mentions while measuring sentiment

- Assigning priority queues with up-to-date prospect information and incident notifications

These platforms should NOT be saving any of the data. Be wary of any platforms that DO save information. The burden of privacy and susceptibility to attacks will still reside with online cloud services and software. Not with the glue in-between.
Susan Fogarty
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Susan Fogarty,
User Rank: Author
11/25/2013 | 10:37:51 AM
Re: Cloud security
Brett, thanks for the additional information. I'm not quite sure if I understand all of it; it's quite mind-boggling. Curiouser and curiouser!
cbabcock
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cbabcock,
User Rank: Strategist
11/21/2013 | 1:14:01 PM
A world-wide web of infrastructure?
Joe is chairman of the IEEE Intercloud Testbed executive committee and knows whereof he speaks when it comes to a future Internet of clouds. One day, I think the daisy chains of CenturyLink, Verizon, Amazon, Microsoft and Google data centers around the world will be linked, both within the chain and across chains, forming a worldwide web of infrastructure that never goes dark. It will take service provider commitment to use the Testbed to get there.
cbabcock
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cbabcock,
User Rank: Strategist
12/4/2013 | 4:28:46 PM
Create your own marketplace of four providers
Wow. A gem buried deep in this commentary: it would only take access to four providers to reach 60% of the benefit of having a large market with many cloud service competitors. That is, chossing between suppliers for various types of workloads or at various times of day would lead to major savings by the customer willing to make such choices. 
Multicloud Infrastructure & Application Management
Multicloud Infrastructure & Application Management
Enterprise cloud adoption has evolved to the point where hybrid public/private cloud designs and use of multiple providers is common. Who among us has mastered provisioning resources in different clouds; allocating the right resources to each application; assigning applications to the "best" cloud provider based on performance or reliability requirements.
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