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Clouds on the inside

Ken Oestreich has a good post today, calling out those who would limit the notion of "cloud computing" to the use of an external service. I concur 100 percent.

At least one defining issue for cloud computing is the way in which existing management systems are marshalled in order to provide safe, isolated use of "raw resources", in conjunction with those shared services (such as Active Directory, LDAP, DHCP, ...) that are established as the basis for service management and service levels. A simpler notion may be simply that any data center, run internally or externally, can offer "cloud" computing based on a utility, "self-serve" operational model.

Clearly, this applies as well to the form in which BOTH internal and external resources are used in concert --- when the "internal" cloud requires additional resources from an external service cloud in a scale-out or scale-up situation. At Replicate, we've often referred to this as "spanning". The folks at the 451 Group seem to like the term "cloudbursting." Whatever you call it, the internal-external distinction as the definition is a trap at best, and should be relegated to the class of thinking known as "lazy."

Fountainhead: Creating a Generic (Internal) Cloud Architecture

I am simply trying to challenge the belief that cloud-like architectures have to remain external to the enterprise. They don't. I believe it's inevitable that they will soon find their way into the enterprise, and become a revolutionary paradigm of how *internal* IT infrastructure is operated and managed.

With each IT management conversation I've had, the concept that I recently put forward is becoming clearer and more inevitable. That an "internal cloud" (call it a cloud architecture or utility computing) will penetrate enterprise datacenters.

So here is my main thesis: that there are software IT management products available today (and more to come) that will operate *existing* infrastructure in a manner identical to the operation of IaaS and PaaS. Let me say that again -- you don't have to outsource to an "external" cloud provider as long as you already own legacy infrastructure that can be re-purposed for this new architecture.

This statement -- and associated enabling software technologies -- is beginning to spell the beginning of the final commoditization of compute hardware. (BTW, I find it amazing that some vendors continue to tout that their hardware is optimized for cloud computing. That is a real oxymoron)

Reader Comments (2)

This seems so obvious. If a technology offers clear value, it will be adopted internally to an organization. Reminds me of the early days of browsers and websites. All websites were always "somewhere else" until we figured out how to use that technology to create intranets in our companies, and yes they sometimes "spanned" to external sites.
Aug 19, 2008 at 10:48AM | Unregistered Commenterbruce fryer
Excellent counter example, Rich. The concept of "spanning" requires accepting that there is a hybrid architecture that includes similar components both behind and outside the firewall. If the cloud only exists outside of the firewall, then an autonomic architecture that utilizes resource pools both internally and externally needs a new name...which is ridiculous, as it is essentially all the same thing.

Now, who is going to fix the definition of cloud computing on Wikipedia?
Aug 19, 2008 at 3:27PM | Unregistered CommenterJames Urquhart

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