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Wednesday
Jan212009

Infrastructure Services: Hard Core, Soft Core, Fluffy Core...?

I've spent a good portion of my waking/working time over the past two days at Cloud Interop and Cloud Connect in Santa Clara.  During the conversations and presentations, particularly those at Cloud Interop, I kept having a nagging feeling that a critical set of concepts was missing on the part of the group.  A lot of it had to do with my personal thought experiments about cloudcenters and Infrastructure-as-a-Service (see Geva Perry's take on the concept and some issues).  

I then ran into Hoff's post from earlier today about infrastructure and his epiphany about core services.  It's worth reading, though it's still leaving me with the nagging sensation.  I'm looking for a thought experiment (or two) that will help out with a couple of notions.  This might not be the right one, but perhaps it will help point to the issues.


  • The starting point: I have created a hybrid datacenter, in which I am permitted by the powers that be to use the internal, corporate datacenter in combination with cloud-resident services to deliver the corporation's "datacenter infrastructure."



  • Is there ever a scenario in which I might rely on IaaS for ALL of a
    core network service ... such as DHCP or some other aspect of IP
    address management ... even though all the consumers of the core service live inside my corporate datacenter, and none (for the moment) are operating in the cloud?



  • Might I ever consider operating my entire corporate datacenter, utilizing NO externally (outsourced, offsourced) infrastructure services BUT a core network service?  Some other core infrastructure service?



  • If I take as fact (and there's no reason to doubt it) the Infoblox assertion that cost of IP address management exhibits a diseconomy of scale, would a logical / rational place to seek a solution be in the purchase of realtime, core network services from a particular class of IaaS rather than purchasing a new class of core service "box" that gets installed on my premises?


I don't know enough about the operation, administration and management issues involved in answering this multipart question.  But I'm sure some of you do.  If you feel so inclined, please help me out with the answer... or tell me that I've asked the wrong question.  At the very least, take a look at Hoff's post.  Then give this a couple of cycles.

Postscript:  Although it's not a core service like the examples I use above, email spam and malware identification and disposal is a very good example of a service that I'd realistically commit-- in total -- to the "cloud" even though I'm retaining "everything else" in-house.

Are there any analogous core infrastructure services?  If there are, what makes them functionally and economically viable? Are there specific characteristics and general principles we can identify regarding the core infrastructure services that would suggest a potentially successful (i.e. cost-effective ?) cloud service core infrastructure offering?

Rational Survivability: What To Do When Your "Core" Infrastructure Services Aren't In Your "Core?"

...

The reason the light bulb went on for me is that I found that I was still caught in the old school infrastructure-as-a-box line of thought when it came to how I might provide the CDN/Caching and distributed DNS capabilities of my imaginary service.

...

Do I pick a provider that offers as part of the infrastructure a specific hardware-based load-balancing platform? Do I pick on that can accommodate the integration of a software-based virtual appliances. Should I care? With the cloud I'm not supposed to, but I find that I still, for many reasons -- good and bad -- do.

I never really thought about simply using a cloud-based service as a component in a mash-up of services that already does these things in ways that would be much cheaper, simpler, resilient and scalable than I could construct with "infrastructure 1.0" thinking. Heck, I could pick 2 or 3 of them, perhaps.

...
I think it's a huge step to recognize that it's time to get over the bias of applying so called "infrastructure 1.0" requirements to the rules of engagement in the cloud by recognizing that many of these capabilities don't exist in the enterprise, either.

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