Cloud Computing

Cloud computing, aligning IT strategy with the Future.

Cloud Computing: Aligning IT Strategy with the Future

If you're an enterprise, midsize business, or cloud service provider, chances are you've thought a lot about cloud computing. Cloud computing continues to impact the way you plan, pay for, and roll out IT services.

As an IT leader, you're:

  • Facing critical challenges that are changing how you manage your IT solutions, value, and resources.
  • Being asked to go beyond your traditional focus on operational effectiveness and management controls.
  • Not only supporting, but also driving, strategic business objectives.
  • Needing to harness new technology opportunities like cloud computing to lead innovation across the entire business value chain.

You have to make sure your cloud strategy benefits your organization for the long term.

Cloud Computing - Adopting

For Enterprise and Midsize Businesses Adopting Cloud

You could look at building or buying options separately. Chances are you're already doing this to advance the business. But the best approach is to view building and buying cloud services as one strategy. Looking at these together will help you become the cloud broker of services to your organization.

When should you consider building your own private cloud? When your organization wants to control its cloud computing infrastructure in-house, or has legal or regulatory concerns.

When should you consider buying cloud services? When you want faster time-to-value with low capital investment. Peace of mind with validated services. Or flexible sourcing models to help your IT efforts to meet the needs of the business.

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Definition of Cloud Computing (Cisco point of view)

Cloud Computing is all IT resources and services that are abstracted from the underlying infrastructure and provided «on-demand»and «at scale» in a multitenant environment.

The Cisco definition of cloud computing is general; however, three key attributes of the definition include:

  • «On-demand» means that resources can be provisioned immediately when needed, released when no longer required, and billed only when used.
  • «At-scale» means the service provides the illusion of infinite resource availability in order to meet whatever demands are made of it.
  • «Multitenant environment» means that the resources are provided to many consumers from a single implementation, saving the provider significant costs.

In the Cisco point of view, all three attributes are required to be considered as a cloud service. One interesting point to note is that the physical location of resources (On-premise or off-premise) is not a part of the definition.

Benefits of the Cloud

Cloud computing fundamentally changes the way that IT services are delivered to organizations. Instead of both owning and managing IT services for themselves, or using an outsourcing approach built around dedicated hardware, software, and support services, organizations can use cloud computing to meet their IT requirements using a flexible, on-demand, and rapidly scalable model that requires neither ownership on their part, nor provision of dedicated resources.

Some of the benefits that Cloud Computing brings are as fallows:

  • Reduced Cost: Cost is a clear benefit of cloud computing, both in terms of CapEx and OpEx. The reduction in CapEx is obvious because an organization can spend in increments of required capacity and does not need to build infrastructure for maximum (or burst) capacity. For most enterprises, OpEx constitutes the majority of spending; therefore, by utilizing a cloud provider or adopting cloud paradigms internally, organizations can save operational and maintenance budgets.
  • Flexibility: Flexibility benefits derive from rapid provisioning of new capacity and rapid relocation or migration of workloads. In public sector settings, cloud computing provides agility in terms of procurement and acquisition process and timelines.
  • Improved Automation: Cloud computing is based on the premise that services can not only be provisioned, but also de-provisioned in a highly automated fashion. This specific attribute offers significant efficiencies to enterprises.
  • Focus on Core Competency: Government agencies can reap the benefits of cloud computing in order to focus on its core mission and core objectives and leverage IT resources as a means to provide services to citizens.
  • Sustainability: The poor energy efficiency of most existing data centers, due to poor design or poor asset utilization, is now understood to be environmentally and economically unsustainable. Through leveraging economies of scale and the capacity to manage assets more efficiently, cloud computing consumes far less energy and other resources than a traditional IT data center.

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Architectural Considerations

  • Cloud Computing Infrastructure Model
    Government agencies need to consider several infrastructural models when evaluating cloud-computing architecture. Cisco sees four categories of cloud currently in the marketplace or emerging in the near future: public clouds, private clouds, virtual private clouds, and eventually inter-clouds.
  • Public Clouds
    Public clouds are “stand-alone,” or proprietary, clouds mostly off-premise, run by third party companies such as Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and others. Public clouds are hosted off customer premises and usually mix applications (transparently) from different consumers on shared infrastructure
  • Private Clouds
    Private clouds are typically designed and managed by an IT department within an organization. A private cloud is usually built specifically to provide services internally to an organization. Private clouds may be in a collocated facility or in an existing data center. This model gives a high level of control over the cloud services and the cloud infrastructure. Cisco has a strong portfolio of solutions, products, and services, which enable private cloud infrastructures.
  • Virtual Private Clouds
    Virtual private clouds allow service providers to offer unique services to private cloud users. These services allow customers to consume infrastructure services as part of their private clouds. The ability to augment a private cloud, with on-demand and at-scale characteristics, is typical of a virtual private cloud infrastructure. Private cloud customers can seamlessly extend the trust boundaries (security, control, service-level management, and compliance) to include virtual private clouds.
    The virtual private cloud concept introduces the complexities of migrating workloads and related data from a private cloud. Cisco is already developing a unique set of capabilities in the form of protocols and solutions, which enable long-distance, workload mobility scenarios from private clouds to virtual private clouds.
  • Inter-cloud
    Cisco envisions, that in long term, the inter-cloud will emerge as a public, open, and decoupled cloud-computinginternetwork, much like the Internet. In a sense, the inter-cloud would be an enhancement and extension of theInternet itself. Just as the Internet decouples clients from content (i.e., you don’t have to have a preexistingagreement with a content provider to find and access its website in real time), the inter-cloud will decouple resourceconsumers (enterprises) from cloud resource providers, allowing the enterprises to find resources on demand withproviders. Workload migration will be the dominant use case for the inter-cloud, as an open market, establishes truststandards and public subsystems for naming, discovering, and addressing portability and data/workload exchange.

Service Layers of Cloud Computing

In a cloud value chain, services are virtualized and delivered on demand.

The four major layers in the cloud computing value chain are:

  • Software as a Service (SaaS) is where application services are delivered over the network on a subscription and on-demand basis. Cisco WebEx™, Salesforce, Microsoft, and Google are a few providers in this layer.
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS) consists of run-time environments and software development frameworks and components delivered over the network on a pay-as-you-go basis. PaaS offerings are typically presented as API to consumers. Examples of this are: Google Apps Engine, Amazon Web Services, force.com, and Cisco® WebEx Connect.
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is where compute, network, and storage are delivered over the network on a pay-as-you-go basis. Amazon pioneered this with AWS (Amazon Web Service), and now IBM and HP are entrants here also. The approach that Cisco is taking is to enable service providers to move into this area.
  • IT foundation is the basis of the above value chain layers. It provides basic building blocks to architect and enable the above layers.