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Resilient Cloud Computing

Created: 09 Oct 2012
dennis_wenk's picture
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The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) defines Cloud Computing as “ A model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources that can be provisioned and released with minimal management effort or service provider interaction.” A cloud initiative shifts the centralized, owned-and-operated computing infrastructure model to a fully distributed decentralized paradigm. 

The promise of cloud computing is primarily the following key characteristics:

  • The ability to create the illusion of infinite capacity.  The performance is the same if scaled for one, to hundreds, or to thousands with consistent service level characteristics.
  • Abstraction of the infrastructures so applications are not locked into devices, locations or hardware.
  • Pay-as-you-go usage of the IT service: you only pay for what you use and with no minimal upfront investment costs; you typically just use the service through a connection or device.
  • The service is on-demand: able to scale-up or scale-down with near instant availability: Typically, no forward planning forecast is required.
  • Access to applications and information from any access point.

These technical characteristics can also be found in non-disruptive technology solutions but they are only a portion of the story. The rate of change; the magnitude of cost reduction; and the specific technical performance-impact of cloud computing are not just incremental; Cloud computing can deliver a five to ten times order of magnitude improvement.

These fundamentals are equally necessary for both public and private cloud infrastructure. Public cloud service providers will typically invest more in the self-service and metering pay-per-use infrastructure than private cloud service providers, but the foundational requirements are largely the same. The cloud model is more about a new way of delivering IT services than it is about a particular technology or implementation approach.

While there are no ‘one-size-fits-all’ guidelines in terms of which technologies are most often leveraged in cloud infrastructures, most cloud architects tend to steer toward certain common technology approaches. Some of these include:

  • Server and storage virtualization, which enable consolidation, workload mobility, faster provisioning, and faster reallocation of resources.
  • Scale-out architectures are typical of cloud infrastructure, and again support scalability and elasticity.
  •  Automated High Availability and recovery become essential. As virtual servers and storage are dynamically provisioned and reallocated, management functions like backup, recovery, clustering, and failover need to be as automated as possible to ensure quality of service without adding undue administrative overhead.
  • Commodity hardware strategies are another common technology approach that leading service providers are adopting to reduce their overall cost of service delivery. By achieving resiliency through scale-out and redundant server and storage architectures, service providers are able to leverage low-cost “white box” servers and low-cost disk.

Cloud computing is not simply the latest industry buzz word; it is not a marketing slide or a nebulous concept to Symantec. We are currently delivering to customers upon the promise of Cloud Computing.  In addition to leveraging our own software to deliver our .Cloud offerings and the Symantec Hosted Services, including the largest SaaS storage infrastructure in the world, we work with leading web companies, SaaS vendors, Telcos, and other service providers to help them build, protect, and manage some of the largest and most sophisticated cloud infrastructure environments in the world.  Some of the solutions that Symantec offers to address these sorts of cloud requirements and key technologies: .

  • Storage management needs to be optimized for virtualized, scale-out environments, and it must provide the visibility into allocation and utilization to enable scalability and growth. Cloud services need to be available on demand, and storage provisioning needs to be much more dynamic than in traditional enterprise data center scenarios. Cloud providers are essentially “laying down the track as the train comes up behind them”, and having the visibility into their environment and the tools for automated and dynamic provisioning and management are essential.
  • Symantec Clustered Storage Solutions provide scale-out file systems that can leverage low-cost commodity servers and storage. Massive scalability is possible and additional storage capacity can be added in a “plug-and-play” manner without taking services offline.
  • Availability is critical for both public and cloud providers. Symantec solutions for clustering, replication, and automated HA and DR enable providers to provide the appropriate level of availability for the service being delivered.