Thursday, 30 September 2010

Virtualization Remains the Key to Cloud Computing

All of the talk about Cloud Computing can obscure the role of virtualization. The concept, along with its sibling, abstraction, can be difficult to grasp, let alone implement. Yet it is the key to Cloud Computing. All else is mere server consolidation, the same old wine packaged in new, green-friendlier bottles.
Virtualization has been with us for a long, long time. Some old-timers will recall the time when it referred to memory, in a day when memory was still very expensive. Others can go back even further, and recall pioneering virtualization efforts involving the CP/M operating system and early Intel PC architectures.

Infinite, or Close EnoughNone of that is important now. What is important is the idea that unless your applications--and the data flows and processing loads associated with them--are decoupled (ie, removed) from specific pieces of hardware and from underlying operating environments, you don't have Cloud Computing. You don't get the efficiencies being touted for it, you don't get the true elasticity associated with it, you don't get the performance associated with it.

Yeah, OK, and...
And unless you, as a Cloud customer, perceive the Cloud to be infinite (or at least, larger than anything you'll ever need), then you're not really talking about Cloud Computing. You may be talking about server consolidation and saving a lot of money, which is a good thing. But you won't be talking about Cloud.
I say this as I read more and more, with some concern, about the notion of fixed, on-site hardware being called Private Cloud Computing.

If you are a customer who turns on the spigot to receive SaaS, PaaS, or IaaS from the sky, the supply seems unlimited to you. After all, that's the deal. Flexibility, scalability, an infrastructure set up so that you use what you need and pay for that only. Just like water or electricity.

I realize that at some point IT resources, specifically processors and storage, are finite. Just like water or electricity.

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