Cloud Computing Reference Architecture

my first attempt at defining a reference architecture for cloud computing. will appreciate any feedback…good/bad/ugly :-). based on the feedback and the discussions i am hoping it will evolve positively.

i will also make an attempt to map offerings from the likes of AWS, Microsoft on the architecture going forward. will also try to map offerings under VCE intiative into the same for private cloud implementations.

Cloud Computing Ref Arch V1

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Flirting with Cisco UCS (Unified Computing System)

i recently got an opportunity to work for a customer’s DC consolidation requirement where we Cisco’s UCS was explored as an option.

this is a tagholder for the post 🙂 – i will post my analysis along with some numbers to present my experience with Cisco UCS soon.

Cloud Security Alliance Guidance Document v2

CSA has released the version 2 of cloud security guidance document. it is available at –  http://www.cloudsecurityalliance.org/csaguide.pdf

it was privilege working with so many of my peers located in different parts of the world. it is actually amazing that so many of us could collaborate and work collectively on this initiative.

Clouds & Infrastructure Management

recently, someone asked me a question around infrastructure management – One of our business units are going in for cloud computing. Do they still have to look at infrastructure management?

 

here are my thoughts on the subject –

 

Typically infrastructure management involves design & planning of infrastructure components, procurement, deployment, operations and disposal. However, cloud computing introduces a different aspect – cloud management activities.

Cloud computing has various flavours like SaaS, PaaS, IaaS from services point of view. Also from ownership model, there are public clouds which are owned by service providers and then there are private clouds which offer cloud computing services but are owned by the customer themselves and reside in their data centers.

Depending on which service viewpoint and what ownership model is the customer considering cloud computing, there will be different levels of involvement in infrastructure management. Public cloud providers have solutions that involve a lot of automation thus making the infrastructure management activities simplified.

for public clouds

SaaS service does not require infrastructure management PaaS service does not require hardware level infrastructure management but will involve activities like provisioning and de-provisioning (cloud management activities), patch management etc.

IaaS service will require activities like provisioning, de-provisioning of compute resources, OS & application patch management etc.

for private clouds –

PaaS & IaaS will require infrastructure management like provisioning of hardware for setting up of private cloud and then cloud management activities like provisioning and de-provisioning of compute resources (cloud management activities), OS and platform patch management, incident, change, problem management etc.

 

from email to collaboration

initially i had titled this post as “email and its imminent demise” but then maybe it is incorrect to say “imminent demise”, rather i think it will slowly move into the background and slowly treated as legacy application if it fails to evolve and incorporates the new web 2.0 technologies that ppl are toying for enterprise use..

email has come a long way since it was invented in early 1970’s. people have used emails to  send simple messages to each other/group, use it as means of sharing documents (much to the plight of the email administrators), use calendaring features for appointments and scheduling meetings. on looking closely at how an email is typically used in an organization, i have noticed that along with the above mentioned functions,  emails are also used as means to store files (hey dude, can u email me that presentation that you took for a xxx client the other day, i may use it in future),  approvals for certain business transactions (e.g approval to buy a new server sent by CIO to IT Manager etc), keep a record of certain communication (he said, i said etc) to basically CYA (covery your a**) in case things go bad..however, along with email came its nuances, maintaining uptodate address book, spam, compliance issues etc. but we are all dealing/living with it.

as time goes by, in the world outside the boundaries of an enterprise, people are adopting techniques that harness the power of technology to reach out to each other, either as part of social networking phenomenon or to work together/collaborate. with the power of the internet coming to the mobile device, the speed at which this adoption is taking place is awesome. now, people dont need to access their emails to know what their friends/peers are doing or what is the latest buzz etc. applications like facebook and twitter have already proven the usefulness of technology outside the enterprise walls..it is only a matter of time when they are adopted within the enterprise also. already there is a lot of talk about web 2.0 adoption within the enterprise by many analysts. email too needs to evolve if it has to stay alive in this fast changing scenario. already there are surveys which shows that more and more people are using facebook/myspace/twitter etc over email to reach out/keep in touch.

in my opinion, organizations will start looking for a better collaboration platform which can increase the effectiveness, efficiency & productivity by harnessing the same technologies that are used by millions outside the enterprise boundaries. realizing this need, some email services have now integrated instant messaging/chat services with archiving features on the messaging platform. . how many times have you noticed that when ur having an email exchange with someone, u end up taking the remaining conversation to the chat as it is faster and more effective. i think the collaboration tools like instant messaging will  evolve and bring convergence of channels of communications viz chat, voice, video along with email and other forms of collaboration technologies like document management systems etc. the other day i wanted to reach out to a group within my company to work on platform migration. instead of sending emails to numerous people and then getting redirected from one group to another, i just sent an update on yammer and got a reply within 2 hours from someone located on the other side of the world.. it was awesome and saved me numerous emails and days in waiting for a favorable response.

there will be initial resistance from many to move from legacy to new forms of collaboration. there will be compliance & security concerns. but like the case with any new technology, it will find its own steady state adoption rate. only that, given the way web 2.0 is evolving,  this rate might be accelerated by few notches.

already there is a lot of noise that google wave has generated on the internet. maybe microsoft solution around corporate instant messaging – OCS will also evolve to bring in convergence of existing communication & collaboration tools with the new web 2.0 toys.

my take is that few years from now, email might just end up as a legacy platform required to retrieve old email data and corporates will use a newer and more efficient form of collaboration technologies.

Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS)

cisco recently launched its unified computing system offering. though its still early to commet on it without looking under the hood, it has nevertheless invoked discussions and debates. in the next few months, as i understand more about ucs, i will start posting my view and thoughts on the same. 2009 appears to be interesting to say the least!!!

Defining Transformation & Innovation at IT Infrastructure Layer

in this post, i present my thoughts on how to define a ‘transformation’ at an IT infrastructure layer by differentiating between an innovative solution and a transformation solution.

for the past few months, ‘transformation’ is the new buzz word for both, the customers looking for IT servcies and for the IT service providers. since there is no industry standard or a globally accepted definition of what constitutes a transformation solution, this term is used as per one’s convinience.  each customer that i have come across (ranging from fortune 500 to fortune 50) have their own way of defining a transformation initiative. each rfp for IT outsourcing now requires the service providers to present ‘transformation projects and approaches’.

in the recent past, many IT infrastructure management rfp’s are also requiring the IT infrastructure service providers to put on their thinking hats and present a “transformation roadmap” as part of the rfp response. customers are looking at solutions that can change the nature of IT infrastructure services. in my opinion, the problem of defining transformation gets even more tough as you go down the layers of IT. at a business process automation layer, it is much easier to define transformation than at the IT infrastrucutre layer.

so how do we define transformation at the lowest layer in the IT landscape – the IT infrastructure layer. for that we need to explore:-

  1.  who consumes the IT infrastructure and associated services,
  2. is there a standard taxonomy of the terms – innovtaion & transformation with respect to IT that can also be extended to IT infrastructure layer
  3.  apply that taxonomy to classify the projects into transformation & innovation based on how they impact the consumers of IT infrastructure & associated services.

1. identify who consumes the IT infrastructure services

looking from a consumer and provider point of view, i would like to start by defining the consumer of IT infrastructure services. these services are typically consumed directly or indirectly by the following entities:-

  • enterprise customers – in come cases the enterprise end customers consume the IT infrastructure services directly or indirectly by using business automation services/applications hosted on IT infrastructure (e.g amazon customers interact with online applications to buy/sell goods, which is hosted on the IT infrastructure).
  • enterprise application teams (use servers & operating systems provided and managed by IT Infrastructure services to host applications which typically automate or address business processes requirements)
  • enterprise IT customers – use network services to connect (and make use of services like DNS, DHCP, email etc) for the transfer of information etc

2. defining transformation & innovation

what is transformation and how it can be different from innovation? well going by the  very basic definition, these two terms can be explained as:-

  • innovation –  a new way of doing something; the goal of innovation is positive change, to make someone or something better.
  • transformation – the process of a major change in form, nature, or function; the goal of transformation is to change the very form/nature (caterpillar to butterfly)

 it is important to notice that innovation can be related to : “a postive change”, to “new way” of doing something and not necessarily doing something new. whereas, transformation: is addressed towards the very core of a form and initiaties and leads to the change in the form.

when the same definition is applied to IT infrastructure, innovation and transformation can be termed as:

innovation – new solutions to IT issues. and in that sense, transformation can be termed as-  solution addressing to change the very nature of consumption of IT services.

3. examples of innovation & transformation

using the concept of IT infrastructure consumers and the definitions of innovation vs transformation, i have tried to list down few solutions that  i think can be termed as innovation and which can evolve as transformation.

innovation – new way of doing traditional things; new solution to IT problems.

  • server consolitaion, virtualization – solves IT problems of under utilization of IT assets and hence are “innovative solutions”
  • email infrastructure consolidation by upgrading from Ms Exchange 2003 to 2007  – solves IT problems of email infrastructure consolidation

transformation – change the form; change the way IT infrastructure services are consumed by its consumers.

  • building enterprise private infrstructure cloud by using virtualization along with softwares like cassatt – changes the way IT Infrastructure services will be consumed by enterprise IT application teams who are direct consumers of the services.
  • unified messaging solution – integration MsExchange 2007 with unified messaging solution will change the way enterprise IT users will use collaboration solutions like email, instant messaging and voice/telco services.

any thoughts/feedback?