Cloud computing represents the latest trend in enterprise IT and presents a radical change in how organizations develop, deploy, and manage their enterprise applications. Every platform vendor has either customized their existing offering to meet the expectations of cloud computing or developed platform products specifically for the cloud to enable expected feature capability.
Our goal is to define Microsoft Corporation's view of these cloud computing expectations in content that is easily consumable by a wide range of audiences throughout the organization and lead into solution guidance that solves customer business challenges as they embrace the changes brought about by cloud computing.
This document is one of a series intended to explore and define the private cloud. The intended audience is the key members of the organization that drive the business needs around the utilization of IT to provide business agility, responsiveness, and efficiency to nourish, grow, and expand their business in a reliable, repeatable, and secure manner using cloud computing.
In this document, Microsoft Corporation presents cloud computing, and more specifically private cloud computing, in terms that are independent of any platform technology, in other words, the capabilities that must be present to be considered a private cloud. In subsequent documents, we will drive deeper into architecture and finally into implementation using Microsoft products to realize the capabilities defined in this paper to solve business challenges for our customers.
High operational costs, low system utilization, inconsistent availability, and poor agility are the key drivers of cloud computing. Businesses are demanding transparency in costs and better responsiveness to new opportunities. CIOs and CTOs are looking for ways to right-size their IT organizations. With the growing reliance on IT to operate their businesses, organizations are realizing that high availability is no longer an optional service attribute.
Organizations are always looking for ways of mitigating these issues. There is a cyclical trend to outsource; sometimes only to discover that the promised cost savings never materialized or the service quality and operational responsiveness suffered. Many organizations embraced IT Service Management and IT best practices to reduce the risk; however, sometimes this overhead reduces agility as well. Organizations have poured money into hardware redundancy to improve availability. Others have embraced emerging technologies such as virtualization, only to find that they have increased their operating complexity and costs and created new phenomena such as Virtual Machine sprawl.
With the emergence of Cloud Computing, IT has a new option that reduces costs while improving resiliency and agility. Businesses are attracted to the idea of pay-per-use and right sizing, but regulatory compliance and service criticality prevents them from moving all but the most commoditized services to Public Clouds. Businesses now understand that there are more effective operating models and they are demanding the same level of effectiveness from their own IT organizations.
What organizations need is an IT architecture that provides highly-reliable services, right-sized infrastructure, and a low-cost but highly responsive operating model.
Cloud computing puts new tools in the hands of the CIO to address changing business needs by providing them with very valuable and effective architectural, delivery, and sourcing options. For example, a CIO may decide to purchase Cloud-based shared business processes/software services, such as CRM, collaboration technologies, and email or choose to operate a private infrastructure Cloud to improve operations of their legacy applications. Despite the hype that surrounds it, Cloud Computing is not a panacea for all IT woes. It is indeed a powerful extension of existing architectures and technologies, which enables delivery of hardware, software, and infrastructure as standardized, modular services. Businesses may choose to either give out commercial contracts for these services or provide them internally. Pragmatic use of Cloud capabilities as part of an overall IT strategy can enhance IT’s effectiveness in addressing critical business needs and add to IT’s overall value to the business.
Cloud computing has the potential to improve the following aspects of your organization:
Realizing these goals requires CIOs to evaluate the available and emerging Cloud technologies in the context of their business needs, existing application portfolio, and growth projections.
The Cloud provides options for approach, sourcing, and control. It delivers a well-defined set of services, which are perceived by the customers to have infinite capacity, continuous availability, increased agility, and improved cost efficiency. To achieve these attributes in their customers’ minds, IT must shift its traditional server-centric approach to a service centric approach. This implies that IT must go from deploying applications in silos with minimal leverage across environments to delivering applications on pre-determined standardized platforms with mutually agreed upon service levels. A hybrid strategy that uses several Cloud options at the same time will become normal as organizations choose a mix of various Cloud models to meet their specific needs.
Cloud options typically are categorized by the following service and sourcing models:
Software as a Service (SaaS) delivers business processes and applications, such as CRM, collaboration, and email, as standardized capabilities for a usage-based cost at an agreed upon, business-relevant service level. SaaS provides significant efficiencies in cost and delivery in exchange for minimal customization and represents a shift of operational risks from the consumer to the provider. All infrastructure and IT operational functions are abstracted away from the consumer.
Platform as a Service (PaaS) delivers application execution services, such as application runtime, storage, and integration, for applications written for a pre-specified architectural framework. PaaS provides an efficient and agile approach to operate scale-out applications in a predictable and cost-effective manner. Service levels and operational risks are shared because the consumer must take responsibility for the stability, architectural compliance, and overall operations of the application while the provider delivers the platform capability (including the infrastructure and operational functions) at a predictable service level and cost.
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) abstracts hardware (server, storage, and networking infrastructure) into a pool of computing, storage, and connectivity capabilities that are delivered as services for a usage-based cost. Its goal is to provide a flexible, standard, and virtualized operating environment that becomes a foundation for PaaS and SaaS.
IaaS usually provides a standardized virtual server. The consumer takes responsibility for configuration and operations of the guest Operating System (OS), software, and Database (DB). Compute capabilities (such as performance, bandwidth, and storage access) are also standardized. Service levels cover the performance and availability of the virtualized infrastructure. The consumer takes on the operational risk that exists above the infrastructure.
|Type||Consumer||Service Provided by Cloud||Service Level Coverage||Customization|
owner or IT
Sourcing models (shared or dedicated and internally or externally hosted) are defined by the ownership and control of architectural design and the degree of available customization. The different sourcing models can be evaluated against the three standards - cost, control, and scalability.
The Public Cloud is a pool of computing services delivered over the Internet. It is offered by a vendor, who typically uses a “pay as you go” model. Public Cloud Computing has the following attractive attributes: you only pay for resources you consume; you gain agility through quick deployment; there is rapid capacity scaling; and all services are delivered with improved and consistent availability, resiliency, security, and manageability. Public Cloud options include:
The Private Cloud is a pool of computing resources delivered as a standardized set of services that are specified, architected, and controlled by a particular enterprise.
The path to a Private Cloud is often driven by the need to maintain control of the delivery environment because of application maturity, performance requirements, and regulatory or business differentiation reasons. For example, banks and governments have data security issues that may preclude the use of currently available Public Cloud services. Private Cloud options include:
|Hosting Location||Shared or|
|Pay as you go|
|Pay as you go|
|Build is Cloud,|
contract, may or
may not have
|Varies by |
contract, may or
may not have
The Hybrid Cloud model combines two or more public or private cloud services that are unique entities bound together to enable data and application portability.
In this section we offer insight into challenges that organizations face with adopting private cloud with a focus on what it means to face these challenges and realize business opportunity once these challenges are understood and resolved. This then leads us into the next section on adopting an approach that demonstrates the path to challenge resolution and allows the organization to focus on the business application management within the private cloud.
As we progress deeper into this content series, we will present a reference architecture and implementation designed to solve these and other cross-cutting challenges and concerns to adoption of a private cloud.
Embracing the cloud in an organization is a significant step even for the most mature IT organizations. A key to successful adoption is to start small and walk before you run. The first step is identifying the business case for the cloud or private cloud within the organization. Is it to provision IT capability in a more predictable and responsive manner, or is it cost efficiencies on server racks, power, and cooling? Maybe costs related to staff throughout the lifecycle? Perhaps organizational or regulatory compliance requirements are driving the business case, or it may be a complex mixture of all these and other reasons, but the business decision maker in the organization must be clear and understand what is driving this initiative and the desired outcome.
The next step is to identify low hanging fruit within the organization in terms of applications and staff that are receptive to a platform shift. Perhaps it’s a department or group that has adopted virtualization or partitioned an application for public and private cloud deployment. Existing groups like these are prime candidates to adopting cloud like characteristics in their environment and taking the organization to the next step. Many organizations are starting out with Private Cloud for development and test environments. These scenarios and their often erratic usage profiles are ideally suited to private cloud and provide a low risk way of exploring the technology and operational capabilities required to effectively deliver that service. Given confidence and learning, proof of concept projects may be built out in a small well defined area of the organization to demonstrate the capability of cloud computing on actual business applications and allow for future growth and onboarding of new applications into the cloud as the organization transitions to cloud vs. traditional IT deployment.
Finally, once operational run book procedures have been adopted and approved, an overall plan for deployment and consolidation of new and existing services can be built and executed upon.
The content is this series is intended to guide our customers on the private cloud computing journey as they adopt these exciting capabilities and build end-to-end solutions that drive growth and opportunity in the business.