Continuing my coverage of last week's Data Center Conference 2009, I attended another "User Experience" that was very well received. This time, it was Henry Sienkiewicz of the Department Information Systems Agency (DISA) presenting a real-world example of the business model behind a private cloud implementation. DISA is the US government agency that develops and runs software for the Army, Navy and Air Force.
Being part of the military presents its own unique set of challenges:
Using Cloud Computing simplifies provisioning, encourages the use of standards, and provides self-service. DISA has several solutions.
In their traditional approach, a software project would take six months to procure the hardware, another 6-12 months code and test, and then another 6 months in certification, for a total of 18-24 months. With the new Cloud Computing approach that DISA adopted, procurement was down to 24-72 hours with RACE, code test took only 2-6 months with Forge.Mil, and certification could be done in days on RACE, resulting in a new total of only 3-6 months. Some challenges they found:
Some lessons learned from this two-year experience:
Some of my favorite debates on the blogosphere concern the future of things. On his blog The Bigger Truth, fellow blogger Steve Duplessie (ESG) gives his thoughts on [Why the Cloud will Vaporize]. This was countered with TechTarget's Joseph Faran response, [Why Cloud Computing is Here to Stay]. Chris Mellor on The Register covers [HDS's pay-per-use private cloud storage] and [Nirvanix's hybrid cloud taster] offerings. Fellow blogger Alex McDonald has a hilarious send-up, poking fun at EMC's latest in their series of commercial failures, [Atmos Online, The Jezhov Of The Cloud].
Of course, EMC isn't the first, and won't be the last, vendor to [hear the sirens] of Cloud Computing and crash their ships on rocky shores. Just because you manufacture hardware or write software does not guarantee your success as a Cloud service provider.
(FTC disclaimer: I work for IBM. IBM is a successful public cloud service provider, as well as offering products that can be used to deploy a private, hybrid or community cloud, and provides technology to other cloud service proviers.)
An amusing excerpt from Steve Duplessie's post:
I have to agree that when vendors like EMC say "Journey to the Private Cloud", skeptics hear "How to keep your IT administrator job by sticking with a traditional IT approach". Butchers, bakers, candlestick makers and the specialty shop "arms dealers" of Cloud Computing IT equipment may not want to see their market shrink down to a dozen or so service providers, and drum up the fear that "Public Cloud" deployments will "disintermediate" the IT staff.
But does that mean the use of term "Private Cloud" should be discontinued? The US National Institute of Standards and Technology [NIST] offers their cloud model composed of five essential characteristics, three service models, and four deployment models. Here's an excerpt:
Like traditional IT, a private cloud infrastructure is operated solely for an organization, so I can see how many might consider the term unnecessary. However, unlike traditional IT, a private cloud may be managed by the organization or a third party and may exist on premise or off premise.
How many traditional IT departments meet the five essential characteristics above? Instead of "on-demand self-service", many IT departments have complicated and lengthy procurement and change control procedures. A few might have "measured service" with a charge-back scheme, and a few others prefer to use a "show-back" aproach instead, showing end users or managers how much IT resources are being consumed without assigning a monetary figure or other penalty. Rapid elasticity? Giving any resource you asked for back can be just as painful because re-purposing that equipment follows the same complicated and lengthy change control procedures.
Last December, I wrote a post covering a conference session by US Department Information Services Agency (DISA) on their [Rapid Access Computing Environment].
Just like the term "intranet" refers to a private network that employs Internet standards and technologies, I feel the term "private cloud" is useful, representing an infrastructure that meets the above criteria, employing Public Cloud standards and technologies, that can distinguish itself from traditional IT in key ways that provide business value.
What I do hope "vaporizes" is all the hype, and all the misuse of the Cloud terminology out there.