Computing Forecast: Millions of Clouds

Posted on Jul 11 2013 - 1:01pm by Sharon Florentine

Cloud Computing

What’s the IT forecast for the near future? It’s going to be very cloudy. As Rackspace President Lew Moorman says, “the future is a multi-cloud, hybrid-cloud world. Customers will use, alone and in combination, public clouds, private clouds, customized clouds, specialized clouds, local clouds, high-performance clouds, low-cost clouds, high-reliability clouds, technology-specific clouds, application-specific clouds — any type of cloud you can imagine. The cloud will come in millions of flavors and locations,” he said.

Will there be rain? Either way, while giants like Amazon will remain relevant, “the cloud ultimately will be much bigger than any one company or any one cloud — or any five,” Moorman said. This doesn’t mean that large, public clouds will vanish; they’ll still serve an enormous need for low-priced, high-capacity, easily scalable, instantly provisionable storage and computing space. But Moorman believes that most clouds in the future will be hybrid-cloud architectures that will meet businesses specialized needs while maintaining an emphasis on reliability and performance.

Hybrid cloud architecture is becoming ever more popular, as organizations look to take advantage of the benefits of public and private clouds while mitigating the drawbacks, said Paul Burns, writing for consulting firm Neovise. A hybrid cloud architecture combines a pay-as-you go financial model as well as easy scalability to deal with spikes in demand with private clouds’ local access, granular control, and the ability to maintain an onsite, dedicated infrastructure. That on-site infrastructure is often used to frequently accessed data, or extremely sensitive data on-site for rapid, secure access, and to meet compliance and regulatory requirements, Burns said.

Data that is needed less often, such as archived transaction histories or document images, Burns said, can be stored in a public cloud where it can still be quickly and transparently accessed when needed.

Similarly, Burns said, on-site data may be replicated to the public cloud for disaster-recovery purposes. With a hybrid cloud, data can be moved between the public and private clouds as your organization deems it necessary. “The benefits of hybrid cloud architecture are compelling: local control for some data, plus unlimited capacity without over-provisioning for other types of data,” Burns said.

For businesses that may only need an increase in storage capacity infrequently, ‘cloudbursting’ is becoming an increasingly attractive capability of a hybrid cloud storage deployment, Burns said. Cloudbursting essentially means that most of your storage and data center infrastructure is on-site, but a virtual pool of available capacity is standing by via a public cloud to handle spikes in demand.

With this kind of set-up, adding physical storage capacity is as simple as a few mouse clicks, and can give you access to as much capacity and bandwidth as you need.

There also are different solutions available for different types of data. While big cloud providers are a fantastic solution that can be adapted to most any type of e-commerce business, web sites, and many other types of small and enterprise-class businesses, there are other, more specialized vendors targeting highly select business markets.

For example, as Burns notes, high-performance computing (HPC) providers should look for sub-millisecond latency from vendors that specialize in high-speed storage solutions like 3PAR or EMC VMax. For video and design firms working with CGI rendering, you’ll need extensive bandwidth for reads and writes. For organizations like this, Isilon, NetApp/LSI or DataDirect Networks storage system is a likely fit, Burns advises. Finally, Burns said, Nirvanix is a great solution for backup and archiving purposes for tier 3 and 4 data

Armed with this knowledge and with the myriad choices available for hybrid cloud solutions, it is easier, safer and more cost efficient than ever to embrace a hybrid cloud architecture.

Photo Credit: Flickr/Quinn Dombrowski

About the Author

Sharon Florentine is a freelance writer who covers everything from holistic veterinary care to data center technology and occasionally blogs for cloud provider Rackspace Hosting