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Feature Story

October 01, 2011

The Great Cloud Debate: Which Model is Right for Your Organization?

This article originally appeared in the Oct. 2011 issue of InfoTECH

Virtualization has paved the way for cloud computing to become more readily adopted by organizations; the business benefits of utilizing a cloud model are much more apparent than they were with virtualization. While it took virtualization many years to be widely accepted by businesses, cloud computing is experiencing a much shorter ramp-up period for acceptance by every size organization.

Virtualization allows us to get maximum performance from our IT hardware assets, while shrinking the number of physical assets and shifting capital costs to operational costs, according to Matt Micene, solutions architect at DLT Solutions.

Also, when you consider that global spending on cloud computing is predicted to triple from $37.8 billion in 2010 to $121.1 billion in 2015, according to Markets & Markets research, it’s a no brainer that cloud is becoming the yellow brick road for many companies.

But now that cloud is being accepted and implemented by many organizations, coming into greater focus is whether a private, public or a hybrid model is right for your company. Markus Nispel, vice president of solutions architecture at Enterasys (News - Alert) Networks, says most enterprises use cloud computing today in one form or another, but deployment models vary greatly.

“There are major differences between the deployment modes like SaaS (News - Alert), IaaS and PaaS. We ssee SaaS, such as, as a very favorable solution for small to medium businesses as everything is managed by the cloud provider. No upgrade or maintenance costs are required, and the user isn't likely to experience any significant downtime,” says Nispel.Security concerns remain top of mind for IT decision makers, who are looking to best maximize security and performance in cloud environments. There are several considerations, Nispel points out.

“If you are going to deploy any type of cloud, private, or hybrid (the pre-dominant for the future), or public cloud, the network becomes a critical asset to enable performance,” Nispel explains. “Security is mainly a consideration for private and hybrid clouds. In a public cloud model security is the biggest concern, especially when enterprises use IaaS and PaaS. These models require the most responsibility for security on behalf of the user. In a public SaaS model, the providers handle a lot of these details.  For all cloud-based services contracts and SLAs become more important.”

Many experts agree that hybrid public/private models will become more of the standard in the months and years to come as cloud computing standards become developed and accepted.

“These models allow users to balance their requirements, such as security, performance, and availability,” Nispel adds.

Maximizing security and performance are critical requirements for enterprises, agrees Gavin Stark, chief technology officer of Netronome (News - Alert).

“This is a key requirement for enterprises, and will be a major research aspect for them prior to migration of applications in to the cloud,” says Stark. “CSPs must provide enterprise-level security, with enterprise-isolation within their clouds; ideally this would encompass virtualized network appliances within the cloud, and with the CSP (News - Alert) providing for a virtualized enterprise network that is secured point-by-point within their servers so that enterprises can operate their applications within the cloud over the virtualized network with the confidence that none of their traffic can leak out, and no other traffic can leak in. This maturing of the cloud network may take a considerable time to complete, but it is developing.”Although cloud computing is still not universally accepted, the need for virtualizing networks and appliances will drive its evolution in the next 12 to 18 months.

“There is a long way to go in terms of capability; the need for virtualizing the networks and appliances fully, though, do not necessarily require new standards, as all the components do exist in real networks, which purely require the virtualization. However, OpenFlow 1.1 is an interesting arrival and it could dramatically improve the integration of such appliances in the virtualized cloud network architecture, permitting enterprise to have that much more confidence in migrating their applications to the cloud while maintaining security and performance,” Stark explains.

An interesting aspect of the migration is providing the enterprise CIO with the same control and analysis of the virtual network that they have of their own internal network.

“Although this probably does not require new standards, it is an area that has far reaching implications,” says Stark.

The convergence of cloud and connectivity will play a large role in how business is driven within the next year and years to come, says HP’s Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Dave Shirk.

“We see a world in which the impact of cloud and connectivity is changing not only the user experience, but how individuals, small businesses and enterprises will consume, deploy and leverage information technology,” says Shirk. “Traditional on-premise, proprietary computing resources are gradually being complemented and even replaced by massive, agile and open computing resources of the cloud.

Hybrid models are more often becoming the solution for businesses looking for the best of both worlds since a hybrid environment combines the best of traditional environments with private and public clouds, which “will be the prevailing model for many large enterprises for a long time,” says Shirk. “Time and again, in our experience in both building and hosting private clouds, our customers tell us that the ability to understand and integrate existing IT with public and private cloud will be a critical adoption factor for IT leaders.”

Erin Harrison is Executive Editor, Strategic Initiatives, for TMC, where she oversees the company's strategic editorial initiatives, including the launch of several new print and online initiatives. She plays an active role in the print publications and TMCnet, covering IP communications, information technology and other related topics. To read more of Erin's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi