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PM Essence

Overlooking The Cloud

By - Rajesh Dangi, PMP
While technology companies adapt to newer technologies in the ever changing landscape of development tools, testing metaphors and usability frameworks it is imperative that bare metal IT infrastructure calls for it share and piggy back on these projects and program managers with complex workloads, shrinking timelines and instant go to market dreams.It means that the datacenters in the traditional way could no longer cope with manual allocation of technology resources, configuring environments, deal with operating systems, keep-them-running patches and excel driven capacity management micros for additional resources to deal with demanding compute, memory, storage at runtime.

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The exhausted crowd then invented a term called “cloud” that now provides simple justification of our unknowns.
 
"Cloud computing, by its very nature, is uniquely vulnerable to the risks of myths. It is all about capabilities delivered as a service, with a clear boundary between the provider of the service and the consumer," said David Mitchell Smith, vice president and Gartner Fellow. Taking this epicenter of today's jargon to next level of ambiguity rest of the world started adding their unsolved business problems that demands technology solution with optimized, available, economical, maintenance free, pay as you use and scalable desires into the brawl. The “Cloud” is now confused.
 
Who's capacity is it anyway? Being in the industry for more than two decades I have witnessed the EDP rooms translate into server rooms, engineering labs and production datacenters ; everything about the unplanned changes ( read business needs) and last minute procurements and purchases and long nights and weekends to pull it through were the admin days of reality. Those who rose for the occasion and started scripting and automation that ran programs / scripts on it's own and initiate self-recovery, failed job re-runs into a solid and golden virtualization world.
 
The stacking and stalking of grids, automation of provisioning is not well set trend and are baselines of the “cloud” as we know. So does this “Cloud” resolve it's own issues of provisioning as businesses pour more complex workloads and interrelated algorithms to so called software defined world, not a reality yet.
 
The very fact of provisioning is limited by the allocated resources, the accruals of the hungry loads demand the resource movements but are limited to silos of the domains and brands who strategically do not talk to each other and open standards are born to enforce protocols over each other. The capacities are carved out and kept ready for allocations from respective resource pools, typically compute (allocate more app instances on the fly when peak load exceeds or reaches 85% etc or resize the instances to manage database queues waiting to commit to the disks or as easy as migrating the app server instances to near shore location of the user based on the 'work demand'' etc) such test scenarios and use cases are endless yet more or less functional while customer demos are carried out but the self-healing of the failed instances, unclean or partial transaction recoveries runs continue to create havoc and more jobs in the dynamic work.
 
There is definitely no fool proof answer on running complex and interconnected production applications over cloud without anyone's intervention and those who claim to having done so are not beyond POCs.
What's a cloud then?
 
Essentially there are three types of “Cloud” setups, first private cloud ( no, not your current datacenter as is), then a Public cloud and last but no least “Hybrid Cloud” for getting best of both worlds.

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The “Private cloud” provides you with all benefits of optimizing your hardware hosted within the confines of your own datacenter and offers integration, flexibility and Security / Control. The tenets which define a private cloud as beautifully put by @chuckhollis of EMC/VMware…What makes it a "cloud" is three aspects: (1) it's built differently -- dynamic pools of virtualized resources, (2) it's operated differently -- highly automated low-touch and zero-touch models, and (3) it's consumed differently -- convenient consumption, sometimes pay-as-you-go. What makes it "private" is that the IT organization is under complete control -- how it's used, how it's protected, how it's managed, how it's secured, etc, Well put.
 
The “Hybrid” mode is where you process the stuff on “public” cloud and store in “private” cloud mode. It provides benefits across the spectrum and leverages all drivers of cloud adaptations possible for an enterprise.
 
Enough said about the cloud, the futuristic cautious optimism about the cloud and the outlook is positive yet no tracks are seen on large scale transformation of legacy data center. I assume till we look at three fundamental angles such as Technology, Strategy and Compliance we will not see the light at the end of the tunnel. CIOs often get caught in the act here, Strategy that is generally driven by “businesses” and tagged to the Goals drive them for early adaptation and “show me the money” (read, cost saving) couple with ISO27K, PCI-DSS compliance drives where isolation, auditability and access remain prime the technology ball game played by every cloud vendor or orchestration tool player does not take off. Having a right strategy for adapting right type of the cloud is key here, for example of the organization is in development, testing and innovations then a 'hybrid cloud' will be the answer wherein “Code” remains in the “private” cloud with data repository with Dev Environments and staging and stable (read test) environments get hosted on “Public” cloud for quicker client POCs, making this a true hybrid setup. The production environments split horizontally with Web servers and CDN (read peripheral zone) remains on “public” cloud and Application Servers and database servers (read, business and restricted zone) resides on “Secured Private Cloud”. Ultimately cloud deployment strategies will defer based on the DNA of the organization and right sizing the cloud metaphor for “business” users will be the key criteria for success and security.
 
In summary, the “price” being the low hanging fruit and remains competitive as long as standard features are availed while deployment. In InformationWeek's 2014 Private Cloud Survey, the only perceived cloud issues that affected more than a quarter of respondents revolved around cost and complexity. In InformationWeek's 2014 Private Cloud Survey, the only perceived cloud issues that affected more than a quarter of respondents revolved around cost and complexity.
 
According to the RightScale 2014 State of the Cloud Survey, compliance is a top challenge – cited by 30% of respondents at the “Cloud Beginner” stage. Compliance remains a challenge even as the organization's cloud maturity increases; among “Cloud Focused” enterprises, 18% cited compliance as a top challenge. 31% of Cloud Beginners cite security as a significant challenge, while just 13% of Cloud Focused organizations do. “As organizations become more experienced in cloud security options and best practices, the less of a concern cloud security becomes.” Interestingly no one raised any concerns about Technology where lot many Cloud providers are placing their bet!