All My Clouds
Posted May 20, 2009on:
The emergence of “cloud computing” has injected a lot of excitement within the IT industry, users and vendors alike, as it has shown to significantly reduce cost and increase flexibility/agility. Interestingly, cloud based services of many varieties – IT or not – have been available for many decades. Are there key ingredients of these well known services that also apply to modern IT clouds?
One everyday service often mentioned in IT cloud literature is electric utility service – always on, ubiquitous, elastic and priced based on usage. It provides AC power to every home and business within the territory served. Any certified electrical appliance can be plugged into the standard 3-pin electric socket. The industry is an eco system consisting of regulated utility companies, appliance vendors of all sorts, installers, wire/socket/peripheral makers, etc. Similarly, natural gas and water utilities are other examples of everyday non-IT clouds.
Key characteristics of these “infrastructure” cloud services are summarized in the table below.
Let’s consider few technology-related residential cloud service examples and their characteristics.
In a competitive market place, there may be multiple cloud providers providing the same service – for instance, AT&T and Verizon providing the mobile telephony service. These clouds often interact with each other, as shown in the example below. A landline phone user can call a mobile phone user, or talk to a Skype user on PC connected to the Internet. Similarly, an Internet user may consume cloud-based web application services, such as webmail.
What are the key ingredients in creating profitable markets for these everyday cloud services? They are open standards, vendor interoperability and certification (and, in some cases, regulations). Standards include physical interface, wire protocol, user-to-network interface (UNI) and network-to-network interface (NNI).
As we move to IT-focused “modern” clouds, similar type of ingredients are needed. Physical interfaces and wire protocols already exist, thanks to IEEE, IETF and ITU. Others need to be developed and/or widely adopted, including user-to-cloud provisioning, cloud-to-cloud (intercloud) provisioning, state migration of networks/network services/security/segmentation, virtual machine portability etc etc…
For sure, modern IT clouds are at an early stage of development, so it’ll take some time to see light at the end of the cloud tunnel. Nonetheless, the journey promises to be nothing short of exciting…