From Amazon to Zynga, cloud leaders at the conference gave some interesting sneak peeks at the future of cloud computing. Take a look ahead.
AWS Backup And Recovery
These thoughts were running through my head at Cloud Connect when I ran across a second bit of information that strikes me as addressing that latter topic in a different way. SunGard, which now has six cloud data centers for providing high availability production environments, is about to sign a pact with Amazon Web Services to provide backup and recovery services to customers in Amazon data centers.
That is, Amazon seems aware--as well it should be after its U.S. East data center outage last April--that customers need a simple option for implementing backup in a geographically separate facility. Amazon so far has offered it in different availability zones within an Amazon data center or complex of centers, but not in a geographically separate part of the country. During the 2011 Easter weekend freeze-up, one of the ways customers avoided being hurt was to shift their virtual machines out of U.S. East. Not everyone had provided for such a maneuver, and in the crunch, they learned the hard way that one availability zone wasn't as isolated from another as they had assumed.
Amazon, for its part, has caught the scent of what those telcos have in mind as they maneuver behind its pioneering back. Amazon hasn't linked its own data centers so a workload in one can be backed up in another. But it also wants it to be easy to implement disaster recovery and data recovery. Linking to a SunGard center in Ireland or the United Kingdom would be a natural for Amazon's Dublin, Ireland, facility. Likewise, U.S. East isn't far from Philadelphia, where SunGard has another center. Better to provide an ease of linking itself, rather than leave it to those telco suppliers. SunGard will have more than just backup services available. An announcement is coming soon.
Cisco Tackles Cloud Security
On another front, Lew Tucker, CTO of cloud computing at Cisco Systems, gave a revealing talk in his 15-minute slot in the rapid-fire Cloud Connect keynotes Tuesday, but it was just complicated enough for perhaps some its import to be missed. Enterprises have progressed smartly with both storage and server virtualization, while the network, hardwired into its devices, has tended to lag behind.
Tucker, who was lead on cloud computing at Sun Microsystems before joining Cisco, is in an excellent position to say what's happening on that front. To realize the full benefit of virtualized resources, the network needs to be subdivided into a series of isolated subnets, with one or more subnets serving a single virtual data center, he said in his keynote.
That would mean an additional guarantee of privacy and security for the user or users of a virtual data center, allowing them to do in the cloud many of the things they do in their private enterprise data center. This can already be done, of course, by establishing a VLAN for each user that needs to tunnel into the cloud center, but that's an expensive and wasteful alternative. Only so many VLANs can be created per data center--the max is somewhere around 2,000, a finite number compared to the demands that can be placed on a modern data center.
Cisco has been working on the problem, said Tucker in an interview after his speech, and its answer takes the form of a contribution to the OpenStack open source code project--Quantum. Developers today seek a cloud service by generating a call to its IP address. They should be able to include a description of networking requirements in an application, and have a software receiving agent, with access to services, examine the incoming workload and specify the service they want. It would issue orders for services through the cloud API, and services would be activated from there.
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