June 27, 2011 | Written by: David Kwock
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When looking at the different public cloud offerings currently available in the marketplace it is easy to see why public cloud offerings are very attractive to business, but are slow to adopt since many of them require unique challenges to the traditional IT Services models. Like with any system, designing a system that ultimately meets the necessary business goals and functionality requirements is critical to the success of the IT Service. Many public cloud offerings are attractive because the service is offered as one that does not have to be managed by the IT department. However, integrating a public cloud can introduce new IT challenges such as data integration and security. In this article we will discuss the considerations a company should look at before leveraging a public cloud offering and some of the challenges around such solutions.
Before we begin, let me define what a public cloud is as it relates to the scope of this article. A public cloud is a deployment model where resources are dynamically provisioned on a fine-grained, self-service basis over the internet. This means that Business Process as a Service (BPaaS), Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offerings all can be deployed as public cloud offerings.
Key Architecture Components of a Public Cloud
When considering a public cloud offering an organization should look at some key features that a cloud provider must offer. First, the offering should include a Service Automation Management Layer. This layer should interpret and execute the builds as well as orchestrate between the different management layers.
Next, a public cloud offering should include a usage metering and accounting layer. This layer should provide a flexible support of different delivery models. In addition, a public cloud offering should include a resource management layer. This includes managing the design and build of key images for cloud services as well as the management of virtualized resources.
Finally, a public cloud offering should be designed to handle multi-tenancy to ensure the protection of assets through isolation, integrity, risk and compliance management.
Public Cloud Solution Considerations
Once the key architectural components of a public cloud are satisfied, some key challenges to the adoption of public cloud solutions must be addressed as part of the design of the solution. The first challenge that must be addressed is the ability to seamlessly transition from private to public clouds. This seamless transition from the machines in the IT datacenter to the machines in the public cloud is critical to the success of public cloud offerings since customers often expect the ability to leverage their existing working standards in a public or private cloud environment.
In addition to seamless transition, one of the biggest considerations that must be addressed in public cloud designs is security.
There are four major topics to address in public cloud when it comes to security. The first topic when it comes to security in public cloud is user authentication and authorization. In public clouds, safeguards must be placed on machines to ensure proper authentication and authorization. Within the private cloud environment one can track, pinpoint, and control and manage users who try to access machines with improper credentials. In public clouds reverse proxy, identity and access management solutions become critical to securing offerings in a public cloud.
The next topic that public cloud offerings must address when it comes to security is data security. In order to take advantage of public clouds a corporation must transfer the data and applications from their private cloud to the public cloud in order for their jobs to run successfully. Most companies are concerned about security of their corporate data in the public cloud environment. A key obstacle to cloud computing is the security of the data while being transported to the public cloud and while inside the cloud. Most public cloud providers do not guarantee the security of the data while being transported to the public cloud or while inside the public cloud. This leaves the public cloud solution architect to include security considerations like certificates and encryption technologies to ensure public cloud solutions provide secure data transportation and data persistency.
Along with seamless transition and security, another top architectural consideration when designing public cloud solutions is application performance. This includes network bandwidth, CPU, memory and disk performance consideration, which are typical factors in application performance in any computing solution. Depending on the solution that is being designed in the public cloud many times the interaction between a composite application—especially if parts are hosted in a public cloud and other parts are hosted in a private cloud—make transaction response time a definite design point for the solution. In other cases, the ability to spread components of the application in different locations is a huge advantage for a public cloud solution.
Designing public cloud solutions to meet a particular business need requires new considerations based on the business requirements. What the public cloud provider offers as part of their service versus what is needed to meet the business need is critical to the successful design of public cloud solutions. Although many times security, application performance and disaster recovery are left to the public cloud user to provide, the public cloud solution architect must ensure their design factors in these public cloud challenges to ensure a successful solution is created.