All Posts in “Cloud 101”

Would you like to Swing on a Cloud?

It’s funny how conversations and new environments can stoke creative juices to make more posts. I recently was involved in talking about IT transformation and cloud. During the conversation the customer who was a solutions architect said that their mission was to make “cloud happen”. I laughed and expressed my sympathies it wasn’t my first time hearing this statement. It takes more than just words to transform a business from a corporate datacenter to a Software Defined Cloud Juggernaut. That’s surprising I know, there are some C level folks thinking but I just enter my AMEX number into Amazon and I get cloud.

While that’s true, the reality is to be transformative means you have to understand what it is you are getting into, and more importantly, WHY? Cloud is an awful term used to describe an architecture. I have written before about the types of “cloud” but how do you manage it once you get there. What is it that you will use cloud for? Is it going to be for application development? Rapid deployment and easily built and torn down architectures? How do you utilize the hardware that is already a sunk cost, and how do you plan for the future procurements?

That’s a lot of questions which lead me to ask, how do you plan for your organization to consume cloud? Do you want business units to be able to “self-provision” or do you plan to have your IT department manage requests for provisioning of IT resources? The idea of having a third party managing the requests is also an option though it presents its own unique challenges and questions, of outsourcing the labor as well as your corporate data.

Let’s say for a moment that architecture is settled either via a reference architecture or a public cloud services provider. There are still policy questions that need to be asked, such as: Who is authorized to provision more resources? What tier of service is this individual or group of individuals allowed to request? Is there business unit or line or business chargeback for consumption? What is and is not allowed to be placed in the cloud environment? The last question bring about the issue of security and what policies will be put in place to ensure data in the cloud is protected, safe, and removable. (If your proprietary data gets stuck in a cloud providers data center with no way to retrieve or secure it, is it really yours?)

Not all of these questions are easily answered and they require multiple pieces to make the puzzle whole.

Provisioning of storage can be done with multiple tools, ViPR which I have mentioned before is built to work with VMware Cloud Automation Center, OpenStack, and Oracle. Through these tie ins multi-tenant, multi-vendor solutions can be quickly deployed and automation tools like Razor and Puppet can help to ensure work flow success.

Products like Afore can ensure data encryption occurs across multi-tenant environments. The slick piece here is it’s multi-keyed, which means each tenant environment is encrypted with unique keys, and those keys can be maintained in corporate owned LDAP or RSA Data Protection Manager. So even if the data sits on a public cloud the key is maintain and managed within the corporate security framework. Making the data useless to any external persons with malicious intent.

Backup and recovery solutions such as Data Domain, and Recover Point can ensure data availability and recovery. When used in combination with VMware SRM point in time regeneration not dependent on replication time can quickly improve RTO.

As always there is so much more to go into with each of these products. As I dive deeper I will share more and try to pass my lessons learned along.

Intro to Cloud 101

I along with so many IT professionals hate the term “Cloud” because it tends to be used for everything under the sun anymore. I wanted to take this post to go into what cloud actually is  and what types of cloud are out there. This is Cloud 101 first day syllabus stuff, and will be a part of a series on cloud technologies that I have been working on researching and testing. So let’s get into it and if anyone has any questions please let me know.

What is “Cloud”?

 I will leave the first use of the actual word up to MIT’s Antonio Regalado who blogged about it here. But what is “cloud” in the context of a technology? Is it the concept of hosting your data in a public data center? Or is it the idea of having applications and data available from anywhere at anytime via mobile or traditional clients? 

There are differences of opinion here because of the differences in types of cloud. Public, Private, Hybrid are the current topology defined categories. But with in Public cloud for example there is Single Site, Co-located, Shared Resource, and Dedicated Resource topology possibilities. The quick answer is Cloud is a combination of resources that provide resilient access to applications and data. 

Public Cloud: Hosted computing resources in a data center that your organization doesn’t own or operate. Support options will be available for touch support or full managed for the servers and vm’s in the environment. 

Single Site, Multi-Site, Co-Located: When researching Public Cloud providers or Hosted Solution Providers, make sure you determine if your cloud will be hosted at a single site or multiple sites or if it will be in a co-located data center. Single Site provides you with a just that a single data center that hosts your cloud, this may be all your organization needs, if the data center is capable of 5 9’s (99.999% uptime). But the reality is you will have redundant redundancy with multi-site providers. Some cloud providers are co-located or co-lo’s this means that they rent space in a larger hosting companies data center to get their multi-site redundancy. A co-lo tends to be a bigger data center with better pipes (bandwidth for incoming and outgoing connections) vs a single site instance that a smaller cloud provider may own. Then the question of SLA’s (Service Level Agreements) needs to be discussed, what guarantees are you getting from the Cloud provider that your data will be available and secure? A good cloud provider will offer credits back for any downtime outside of that expressed in the SLA’s as maintenance. 

  • Public Cloud gets the IT budget burden of hardware and virtual platform licenses out of your organizations budget
  • Can reduce the cost of Application delivery and overall OPEX

  • Security this isn’t really a negative it is just like any other IT initiative if you properly plan your security and implement smart policies you can achieve a secure cloud environment
  • CAPEX initial migration can seem like a large investment ROI needs to be examined and OPEX should be included in that analysis
  • Change Management is needed more than in a private environment to ensure that your organization didn’t impact the SLA’s and to ensure that your provider is living up to their end of the agreement
  • IT Department push back this is the biggest issue the fix is to help the IT team understand the goal and direction of the organization and how cloud plays into that

Private Cloud: Your organization utilizes its internal IT resources to provide access to applications and data. Typically this is a multi-site approach with secondary data centers or branch offices being used for redundancy. 

  • CAPEX investments have already been made in most situations with fewer dollars a cloud vision can be realized
  • Ownership the organization owns the hardware and software that is implemented in the cloud, this means that it can be depreciated and written off over time as well
  • The other piece of ownership is that the organization has direct control over the assets and personnel who work in your environment this is the old adage of an enemy with-in can wreak more damage than an enemy at the gate. Knowing the staff in your IT environment is a valuable security measure. 


  •  CAPEX & OPEX the organization is still paying for the IT personnel and resources as well as power and cooling for the data center
  • Cost of application licenses that are sometimes included in public cloud offerings.

Hybrid Cloud: Is exactly what it sounds like, your organization maintains both a public and private cloud presence and there are applications in both locations. This allows for secure data to be maintained in the private cloud and public data to be provided in the public cloud. Data and Applications can easily maneuver between the two environments. 
  • Best of both worlds, managed environments with lower CAPEX
  • Maneuverability and redundancy for critical environment applications
  • Lower OPEXCAPEX for fail-over site than dual on-premises or dual public cloud solutions 


  •  Cost essentially this boils down to having your cake and eating it too. Your organization has the costs of both on premises and a public cloud hosting site.