CIO's Guide to Enterprise Cloud Computing
A Pragmatic Approach to Virtualization and Cloud Computing
Whether at a speaking event on Cloud computing or one-on-one with a CIO, I often get asked about the benefits of an enterprise cloud and virtualization within their organization. Most CIO's are aware of the ground-swell around virtualization and cloud computing, but not all are aware of the benefits and how to get there.
When asked, my first response is usually, "it just makes sense". The one-server-to-one-application model has become a bit outdated as virtualization and cloud computing offerings have become more mature. Several hypervisor vendors such as VMware and Citrix, have built more functionality that most IT managers can get their heads around, let alone the open source community with projects such as OpenStack. It can be difficult to know where to begin.
Let's start with why a CIO would want to consider virtualization or cloud computing in the first place and some of the benefits to the approach.
First let me differentiate between virtualization and cloud computing in simplistic terms. Think of virtualization as the mechanism of providing an abstraction of services from the physical hardware, for example, running multiple "virtual servers" on a single physical server. You can think of Cloud computing as elastic and scalable, where you expand services based on demand and shrink based on lack of demand. Perhaps a better way to explain these two terms is by example. Following are two scenarios of a virtualization example and a cloud computing example.
Virtualization Disaster Recovery Plan Scenario
A hypothetical scenario could be a DR application. In the old days (a year or two ago), if an organization had a main site. let's say in New York, that was made up of 20 racks of servers with 20 servers per rack for round numbers, and wanted to create a DR site, say in Atlanta, the organization would have to either duplicate the 20 racks in Atlanta, or make tough decisions around which systems they wanted to have in the DR site around budget constraints.
Using virtualization, the 20 racks of 20 servers in New York could be duplicated in Atlanta using say 5 racks of 20 servers running virtualization software such as VMware or Citrix that would support all the applications that required 20 racks of 20 servers without virtualization.
As a CIO, would you want to purchase 20 racks of servers and have your staff maintain them or would you get 5 racks of virtualized instead with the same processing power and functionality?
Enterprise Cloud Computing Scenario
A hypothetical scenario could be a customer support application for a retail operator where activity is driven by seasonal and holiday business. Using a standard approach, the CIO would have to have the infrastructure in place to manage the peaks during the seasonal changes and around holidays. The rest of the year, that infrastructure is still dedicated to the customer support application and for the most part is dormant.
By utilizing an enterprise cloud, the infrastructure required to manage the customer can grow during the peaks by adding virtual cores, memory and storage and shrink for off-peak periods. The virtualized cloud infrastructure can also be used for other applications during off-peak times using templates and converted back when required.