The Path to Simplified Delivery of Cloud Services

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Today the cloud is a proven delivery model, with a growing number of enterprises realizing impressive agility and efficiency benefits. As the technology matures, the trend is for organizations to extend cloud deployments to even more flexible private, hybrid, and public cloud models that promise exciting new ways to expand the scope of value-added business services, address top priorities like big data and Bring Your Own Device initiatives, and deliver enterprise applications as services.

Many organizations no longer question the value proposition associated with cloud computing. But the conversation has changed— from “Should we do it?” to “How should we do it to get the most value?” Intel wants to help you simplify delivery of your cloud services so that your business can realize the full benefits of cloud computing now, while laying the groundwork to move to a more elastic hybrid model at the same time. The purpose of this blog series is to help you take the first step—building a private cloud on a highly virtualized foundation.

Why Private Cloud?

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Many companies are already virtualizing their IT environment and have been doing so for years. Initially, virtualization was deployed for compute resources, primarily as a cost-saving technology. Organizations soon recognized that virtualization provided additional cost-savings benefits as well as enhanced speed and flexibility. Most clouds are built on virtualized infrastructure technology. Cloud computing originated as a new way to deliver IT services by providing a customer interface to automated, self-service catalogs of standard services, and by using autoscaling to respond to increasing or decreasing user demand. From an IT perspective, a private cloud offers the key advantages of speed, agility, and efficiency while maintaining control of sensitive workloads.

Private clouds also enable IT to be more responsive to the business and to work more effectively with its constituencies—business users, suppliers, partners, employees, and others. Without private clouds, line-of-business (LOB) requests to IT for provisioning server or storage capacity for key business initiatives can take weeks—or even longer. With a private, self-provisioning cloud, users can be up and running in hours or even minutes, with no or minimal interaction with IT. Projects don’t languish, and users can gain access to the capacity they need on demand. IT can provide better service, monitor demand, and maintain control of sensitive workloads and resources. Users benefit with increased speed to market and the ability to go after short-term opportunities.

Offering a private cloud also provides these benefits, important for the evolution of services:

• Establishes a foundation for new services, such as platform as a service (Paas), to accelerate customer application deployment and promote cloud-aware application design principles.

• Enables extension to public service providers as needed to manage spikes in demand.

• Positions IT as the broker of cloud services across the enterprise. In this role, IT can offer perspectives and skills to help users find the best internal or external solution for their needs, as well as better utilize existing private cloud resources. Also, IT can reduce the risk of working with public providers by helping to meet LOB expectations on price, capacity, and provisioning speed, while ensuring that organizational requirements for security and data governance are in place.

High-Performance Cloud Capabilities

Screen Shot 2013-10-02 at 2.40.37 PM.pngThe U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) identifies several essential characteristics of a high-performing private cloud.

On-demand self-service – Users can automatically provision their own computing resources as needed and without requiring human intervention, typically through an interactive portal that enables them to configure and manage these services themselves.

Broad network access – Resources are available via the network and can be accessed by multiple devices, including smart phones, tablets, laptops, and desktops.

Rapid elasticity – Resources can be quickly and transparently expanded or contracted depending on demand. Scaling is automatic to users, and provisioning what they need is transparent.

Measured service – Usage is measured and can be monitored, controlled, and reported for transparency.

Location-transparent resource pooling for multiple tenants – Compute, storage, and networking resources are pooled to serve multiple user groups (tenants) with different physical and virtual resources that can be dynamically assigned and reassigned according to user demand. Because users generally have no control of the exact location of the resources, there is a sense of location independence, although location may be specified at a higher level abstraction (country, state, data center).

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In addition to these capabilities, NIST also defines service delivery layers and deployment models. Deployment models include private, public, community, and hybrid clouds. Service layers for each of these delivery models include:

Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) – Cloud infrastructure is the collection of hardware and software that enables the essential characteristics of the cloud. IaaS enables users to self-provision these resources in order to run platforms and applications.

Platform as a service (PaaS) – PaaS enables users to adapt legacy applications to a cloud environment or develop cloud-aware applications using programming languages, services, libraries, and other developer tools.

Software as a service (SaaS) – Users can run applications via multiple devices on cloud infrastructure

Virtualization as an Enabling Technology

The underpinning for the majority of high-performing clouds is a virtualized infrastructure. Virtualization has been in data centers for several years as a successful IT strategy for consolidating servers. Used more broadly to pool infrastructure resources, virtualization can also provide the basic building blocks for your cloud environment to enhance agility and flexibility. Today, the primary focus for virtualization continues to be on servers.

However, virtualizing storage and networks is emerging as a general strategy. Results from a Gartner survey of 505 data center managers worldwide reports that planned or in-process virtualization of infrastructure workloads will increase from approximately 60 percent in 2012 to almost 90 percent in 2014. This continuing growth makes cloud computing an obvious next step for many organizations.

This blog is part 1 of 4 in a series focused on planning your organization’s cloud strategy. For a full report, please click here.

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