Every now and then, I find myself getting into discussions about cloud computing, and recently had the opportunity to hang out at Oracle HQ with some Oracle ACE Directors and the OAUX team to see what they were doing. Following that up with a week at Oracle Open World 2015, I got a really good dose of the Cloud.
The question for me is where do I think we will be? In a nutshell, I believe it’s hybrid and whomever figures out the right mix will do quite well. I know this is not an original idea. The following is not describing any specific cloud services provider as some will be better than others in security, longevity, cost, etc. My hope however is that someone reading may find support for their argument or open up some dialogue on Cloud solutions and where this is all heading.
I define private cloud as enterprise owned and managed on-premises infrastructure providing dynamic compute services. These can be any combination of infrastructure, platform or application. The cloud infrastructure can be built on either engineered systems such as Oracle’s Exadata, Supercluster, or ODA hardware, and Enterprise Manager Cloud Control or commodity hardware and OpenStack provisioning applications.
The public cloud in contrast is a hosted/subscription-based service with similar characteristics to the private cloud. Users may not know what hardware the service is hosted as the primary purpose for public cloud is the hosting.
Hybrid cloud computing is an environment where an enterprise has implemented a combination of on-premises private cloud and public cloud with some form of data transfer or orchestration between the two platforms. This configuration, I believe, delivers the greatest flexibility because workloads can move “seamlessly” between the public and private services in alignment with resource demands.
An enterprise can deploy public cloud services for customer facing applications and reporting tools. These systems can also support test and development environments eliminating the need to have resources on site hosting non critical systems. In concert, the enterprise can use on-premises private cloud to maintain sensitive data such as raw financial or personnel data with orchestration software facilitating the transfer of data between public and private cloud environments.
Highly transactional systems can benefit for a hybrid solution. Sizing on-premises cloud for maximum load when those resources are not constantly in use has an cost impact. Undersizing and suffering with performance issues at peak times can cause internal issues and potential loss of customers due to a poor experience. With a hybrid environment, applications can run in the private cloud with the option to either offload the entire workload to the public cloud taking advantage of on demand resources or sharing the workload as demand increases during peak holiday seasons for example.
Hybrid doesn’t come without some drawbacks. Hybrid adds a level of complexity as public cloud services may be limited in connectivity or data transfer methods. Cloud providers my expose a limited amount web services or APIs to interact with the public cloud infrastructure. Provider SLAs or worse the provider going out of business and access to corporate data is lost. Certain governments have restrictions on where data can be stored. Data stored in the cloud may violate these restriction which can limit hybrid cloud architectures. Something as simple as internet connectivity can be an issue as once your applications are in the cloud, the enterprise is dependent upon the robustness and redundancy of it’s internet connection(s). Finally, public cloud maintenance policies. With private cloud the enterprise has more flexibility with planned down time for maintenance. In a public cloud arrangement, the enterprise may be tied to maintenance windows that periodically conflict business operations.
Even with these things to consider, cloud is here for the foreseeable future. With the variety of options for IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS, the opportunities are endless. Public cloud can be instrumental in leveling the playing field. Small businesses that cannot afford the initial capital investment for IT resources can leverage the cloud for easy scalability as requirements demand it. Hybrid cloud allows organizations to be nimble, utilize resources more efficiently, and manage expenses. Let me know what you think about cloud and it’s future.