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Cloud Computing: Understanding Infrastructure as a Service

Introducing the notion of an alternative to AWS: Cloudcenters

What’s a Cloudcenter?

Cloudcenters are that solution. They provide the same kinds of tools that all datacenter and server operators are already accustomed to, but with all the traditional advantages of cloud (i.e. self-service, pay-as-you-go, and scalability). Instead of creating completely new paradigms, cloudcenters are a methodology by which you, the customer, can have a virtual datacenter hosted ‘in the sky’. Each virtual datacenter, a ‘grid’ in GoGrid terminology, is hosted in isolation from other customers, in a cloudcenter as shown in the diagram below:

Your grid is akin to a traditional datacenter whereby you have all of the regular components you expect such as hardware firewalls (to be released in 1Q09), hardware load balancers, network storage (NAS or SAN - scheduled for 2009), virtualized servers, dedicated networks (VLANs), and the option for physical servers for workloads that should not be virtualized.

Logically, a grid looks like:

As you can see, this looks very much like a traditional datacenter infrastructure.

Traditional Datacenters and The Cloud

Just briefly I want to highlight what is in a ‘traditional’ datacenter. These are all built in the same way. The following diagram highlights the typical components in a datacenter and their relative dependencies on each other.  (This diagram isn’t perfect, it’s simply meant as a talking point.)

Cloud Infrastructure providers are in the business of providing you the equivalent functionality in the cloud using their scale to provide it in a cost effective manner. They must also package this functionality to provide you a high level of control as it’s no longer your datacenter. Control comes through a user interface (GUI), programming hooks (API), transparency (SAS70 audits), and performance and reliability guarantees (SLAs).

Cloudcenters focus on making your Cloud Infrastructure look very much like infrastructure you already have or are already familiar with, while Infrastructure Web Services ask you to embrace a new paradigm.

Cloudcenter Advantages

Besides the obvious advantage of ‘looking like’ your current datacenter, cloudcenters allow for strategies like using the Cloud for off-site disaster recovery. It will be much easier to model a copy of your current datacenter to a cloudcenter than it would be to model a copy onto a Infrastructure Web Service.  There are many other advantages to the cloudcenter approach such as:

  • Servers meant to be reliable not ‘unreliable-by-design’ on commodity hardware
  • Cloudbridging- the ability to transparently connect you internal datacenter to your external virtual datacenter or cloudcenter - will be much easier between dedicated VLANs on each side using IPSEC VPNs
  • Cloudcenters will look more and more like each other over time, while there will probably never be another AWS
  • Datacenter software tools will ‘just work’ with datacenter & cloudcenter standards
  • User Interface for controlling the entire datacenter including firewalls and loadbalancers, not just servers[4]
  • Let your cloudcenter provide core infrastructure services like DNS, DHCP, NTP, and image management

Cloud Choices

Ultimately it’s great that there is so much choice when selecting a Cloud Infrastructure provider. Both Amazon and GoGrid provide compelling solutions. We believe that GoGrid, the very first public cloudcenter, is the Cloud of choice for sysadmins, operators, and Enterprise IT staff who need infrastructure that looks just their current datacenter infrastructure.

More Stories By Randy Bias

Randy Bias is Co-Founder and CTO of Cloudscaling. His provocative views on the cloud computing disruption have made Randy Bias one of the industry’s most influential voices. He has inspired organizations to embrace cloud to transform business processes and position for success in a new world where computing resources are ubiquitous, inexpensive, instantly scalable, and highly available.

A vocal open systems advocate for more than two decades, Randy was the technical visionary at GoGrid and at CloudScale Networks. He led the open-licensing of GoGrid's APIs, which inspired Sun Microsystems, Rackspace Cloud, VMware and others to follow. In 2006, he co-founded Cloudscaling and since then has led teams that built and deployed cloud infrastructure for more than two dozen clients globally.

Randy was an early and vocal supporter of the OpenStack project, and led the teams that deployed the first public OpenStack storage cloud (Swift) outside of Rackspace, and the first public OpenStack compute cloud (Nova). He is a founding Board Member of the OpenStack Foundation. He also popularized the cloud server "pets vs. cattle" meme.

Randy blogs at Cloudscaling and Simplicity Scales, as well as GigaOm, CloudAve, O’Reilly Radar, TechCrunch and others. He is consistently recognized as one of the most influential social media voices in cloud computing. He is frequently interviewed in the media, and he speaks at dozens of industry events annually.

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