We’re beginning to evolve the term “cloud” into “cloud services.” There are more use-cases, more architecture components, and a lot more business utilizing some kind of cloud service. With that in mind, one of first things to understand is that cloud computing is actually a collection of technologies which all must work together to facilitate the cloud platform. Once that’s established, IT teams must be aware of what all of those components are and how they interact to make the cloud work.
Organizations looking to adopt a cloud model must diligently research the solution and ensure that there is a good business use-case in place. Without a good underlying infrastructure and with poor planning, a cloud model can actually be a hindrance and become difficult to manage. Although there are many moving parts to a cloud model, the following are some of the most important infrastructure components:
- Hardware. At the core of the cloud is virtualization. Having a virtual platform creates an agile and resilient environment which is capable of dynamic scalability – precisely what the cloud requires. In creating a cloud platform, selecting the right type of hardware will make all of the difference. From some SME organizations looking to deploy a small-footprint private cloud solution, a few rack-mount servers might work fine. However, for larger companies, the selection process is a lot more detailed. Many administrators are looking at the modern Blade Chassis infrastructure to help create a scalable cloud solution. With a good blade chassis, administrators can actually “virtualize” their hardware and span setting almost immediately between other chassis which haven’t even been configured yet. Furthermore, granular control over resources, the servers, and physical hardware are all benefits in working with a chassis system. There is direct ease in rapid provisioning and de-provisioning of both physical and virtual resources when incorporating an intelligent blade chassis system.
- Storage. A major component of a cloud solution will be the storage platform. As mentioned earlier, virtualization is usually at the heart of any cloud deployment. Natively, some virtualization workloads, especially when tied to the cloud, can be resource intensive. In working with storage, it’s imperative to select the right platform for your organization. Storage can be very expensive, so conducting the research prior to any cloud deployment must happen. A good storage infrastructure must be capable of scaling with both the needs of the IT environment and the organization’s vision. Under-sizing a storage controller can have serious repercussions on not only cloud workloads – but users utilizing that storage array for other purposes as well. In some cases, Flash or SSD technologies may need to be used to help offload heavy IOPS functionality. Make sure you understand the user, what they will be accessing and the scale of your cloud in order to select the right type of storage system for your organization.
- Bandwidth. This consideration must happen at both LAN and WAN levels. There must be enough internal network throughput to properly facilitate cloud and virtual workloads. Then, once outside of the network, there must be enough WAN-based bandwidth to support optimal user performance. Poor bandwidth planning can result in a bad end-user experience and degrade the environment. Depending on the type of cloud environment being designed, administrators should be aware of what they are delivering, the distance that information must travel, and how many concurrent users will be accessing the infrastructure at once.
- Virtualization. As mentioned earlier one of the core elements of a cloud platform is virtualization. This can be desktops, application storage, and even user virtualization. Administrators can virtualize their servers, delivery applications through an application virtualization engine and push full desktops through VDI. The beauty of current computing technologies is that all of these virtual components can be delivered via the cloud. Virtualization creates a very agile environment capable of fast resource provisioning. All of this combined works to help support the end-user more effectively – both internally and externally.
- Delivery methodology. One of the great benefits of cloud computing is the flexibility with the end-point. IT teams must be aware that data, information and workloads can be delivered to almost any device with an Internet connection. Or, if the device is brought into the corporate setting, administrators are able to push applications and even desktops to that device this is where IT consumerization and BYOD can really benefits from a solid cloud platform. In creating a cloud environment, IT administrators must be aware where they will be delivering corporate information and how that session will be controlled. Remember, information is stored at the data center level. However, depending on the device and what the user is accessing, administrators may want to limit or block certain types of content. In situations where mobile, tablet and personal devise are to be used – IT managers may want to consider deploying complementary Enterprise/Mobile Device Management solutions.
Remember, each organization will have its own sets of needs for a good cloud deployment. Whether that model is a private, public or hybrid cloud – having a solid deployment plan can make all the difference. When all of the above parts are properly controlled, and, the business vision is clearly established – cloud computing can be a powerful platform helping businesses become much more agile.
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