Everyone has likely seen the optical illusion of the vase in which, depending on your focus, you either see a vase or two faces. This particular optical illusion is probably the best allegorical image for IT and in particular cloud computing I can imagine.

Depending on your focus within IT you’re either focused on – to borrow some terminology from SOA – design-time or run-time management of the virtualized systems and infrastructure that make up your data center. That focus determines what particular aspect of management you view as most critical, and unfortunately makes it difficult to see the “big picture”: both are critical components of a successful cloud computing initiative.

I realized how endemic to the industry this “split” is while prepping for today’s “Connecting On-Premise and On-Demand with Hybrid Clouds” panel at the Enterprise Cloud Summit @ Interop on which I have the pleasure to sit with some very interesting – but differently focused – panelists.

See, as soon as someone starts talking about “connectivity” the focus almost immediately drops to … the network. Right. That actually makes a great deal of sense and it is, absolutely, a critical component to building out a successful hybrid cloud computing architecture. But that’s only half of the picture, the design-time picture. What about run-time? What about the dynamism of cloud computing and virtualization? The fluid, adaptable infrastructure? You know, the connectivity that’s required at the application layers, like access control and request distribution and application performance.

Part of the reason you’re designing a hybrid architecture is to retain control. Control over when those cloud resources are used and how and by whom. In most cloud computing environments today, at least public ones, there’s no way for you to maintain that control because the infrastructure services are simply not in place to do so. Yet. At least I hope yet; one wishes to believe that some day they will be there. But today, they are not. Thus, in order to maintain control over those resources there needs to be a way to manage the run-time connectivity between the corporate data center (over which you have control) and the public cloud computing environment (which you do not).

That’s going to take some serious architecture work and it’s going to require infrastructure services from infrastructure capable of intercepting requests, inspecting the request in context of the user and the resource requested, and applying the policies and processes to ensure that only those clients you want to access those resources can access them, and those you prefer not access them are denied.

It will become increasingly important that IT be able to view its network in terms of both design and run-time connectivity if it is going to successfully incorporate public cloud computing resources into its corporate cloud computing – or traditional – network and application delivery network strategy.

Comments on this Article
Comment made 04-Oct-2011 by Lori MacVittie 0
Travis - certainly - use away.