Enterprise Cloud: Changing Business Requirements

By Milind Karnik, SVP- Global Engineering, QLogic Corporation

Milind Karnik, SVP- Global Engineering, QLogic Corporation

A key trend emerging within the overall cloud infrastructure is a dramatic move towards commodity hardware. With infrastructure hardware being commoditized, procurement managers are looking at hyperscale data centers as their models for the cloud industry to reduce the complexity of different types of fabrics, servers and storage. Additionally, everything is moving to a server-based architecture in the name of simplification. The server-based architecture is networked on an Ethernet fabric, and whatever is being built out of that, is being built in a software-defined environment. With this, there is a tectonic shift in how infrastructure is being viewed, as cloud companies are less interested in ultimate reliability of hardware, because applications are becoming fault tolerant. Instead of having the highest reliability and the best infrastructure, the industry is shifting to commodity with all the capabilities being provided in the application. The promise of cloud computing is enhancing premises with service-oriented operational paradigms that feature high efficiency, elastic scalability with the capacity to react to on-demand resource requirements in near real-time, fast and easy deployment of new applications, effectively increasing the responsiveness and agility of IT as a whole and lowering overall costs to the business.

Cloud Security - The Burning Question

The cloud computing technologies have become viable options for organizations, but they also introduce potential drawbacks and challenges that can make some organizations cautious about adopting them. The technology that has been lacking in the cloud arena is security. Cloud infrastructure is providing a fantastic way to deliver capability to enterprises, allowing them to shift CAPEX to OPEX. Amazon's AWS and S3 are examples of the pay-as-you-go pricing model. There is no up-front investment required. It is great for small companies to begin with, but when it comes to security, is it reasonable to trust that data will always be available? What happens with a WAN failure? What happens if access to Amazon Web Services is lost? Issues such as business continuity, security and disaster proofing in the event of a total loss of external connectivity are equally as perplexing for IT managers. There are numerous security issues for cloud computing, as it encompasses many technologies including networks, databases, operating systems, virtualization, resource scheduling, transaction management, load balancing, concurrency control and memory management. Therefore, security issues for many of these systems and technologies are applicable to cloud computing.

Today, cloud environments scale well for small companies, but when succeeding to a bigger scale, it becomes too expensive. The ability to maintain linear costs with scale is not something cloud infrastructures do very well, yet. In addition to security, it is a question of how to deliver the linearity of cost with respect to growth. A certain amount is feasible when the infrastructure is small, but as the infrastructure grows, the amount increases enormously. In such scenarios, companies like QLogic deliver faster, more persistent connectivity, a huge open area, as the fundamental server and storage have become commoditized. Companies such as Foxconn, Quanta Computer, and other original device manufacturers in China are challenging server revenues for traditional vendors. What's left is connectivity it is not commoditized and it is still difficult to do. Connectivity suppliers have an enormous arena to innovate in, providing server-to-server connectivity that is reliable, fault tolerant and something that users can depend on.

To the extent that cloud computing succeeds; it represents an obvious competitive challenge to business leaders. Business leaders have to deal with issues of data deluge, cost, security and making cloud data disaster proof. The data enterprises once had some uniformity and databases like SQL were all that was needed. Presently, there is vast diversity in the types of data, and business leaders are challenged to handle the variety of data they see, essentially making head or tails out of the data that is available. Even though the Big Data industry is tackling it, the variability is so great, that the kinds of data and databases differ in many ways.

To foster the right innovation, a step has to be taken towards moving out of the component supplier comfort zone. Talking about the evolution of data and what that evolution has done to infrastructure, storage, and connectivity. Understanding the bigger picture of the data evolution and how that evolution is driving databases, which in turn drive compute and connectivity infrastructure is very crucial. With understanding comes knowledge, which allows for the companies to supply the best solutions into the infrastructure.

Cloud computing is being defined and talked about across the IT industry under different contexts and with different definitions attached to it. Technology has moved in this direction because of the advancement in computing, communication and networking technologies. Fast and reliable connectivity is a must for the existence of cloud computing. Cloud computing is one of the most enticing technology areas of current times, due in part to its cost-efficiency and flexibility. However, although cloud technology has brought considerable opportunities to the IT industry, it also brings many unique challenges that need to be carefully addressed.

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