Private Cloud for the Enterprise:
Cloud computing is a model for enabling convenient, on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources. These resources may be infrastructure components like servers, networks and storage. They may also be applications, development environments, or other higher level services.
Cloud computing is an area of growth, innovation and new capabilities that is contributing positively to the evolution of individual IT organizations as well as the IT industry at large. While there is a tremendous amount of discussion and even hype surrounding it, cloud computing is already delivering real value. IT organizations that wish to capture the benefits of cloud computing must go beyond basic awareness.
Cloud Computing Capabilities
As compared to mainframe, client/server, or even virtualized computing environments, cloud computing is a fundamentally new and different approach to delivering IT. When the right solution is chosen – based on the particular needs of an IT organization – cloud computing can represent a major step forward in terms of cost, efficiency, flexibility, agility and manageability. Many cloud-based solutions deliver the following unique attributes:
• Shared Infrastructure – Today’s enterprise data centers are characterized by fluctuating resource demands from a variety of users. Cloud computing enables dynamic sharing of these resources so that demands can be met in the most cost effective manner.
• Scalability – To handle ever increasing workload demands and support the entire enterprise, cloud computing must have the flexibility to significantly scale IT resources. Scalability and flexibility allow the cloud provider to fulfill or come close to the promise of unlimited IT services on demand.
• Self Service – Cloud computing provides customers with access to IT resources through service-based offerings. The details of IT resources and their setup are transparent to the users.
• Pay-per-use – Because cloud-based resources can be added or removed according demand, users only pay for what they use. When service demands decrease and resources are returned, users are not charged for the unused resources.
These capabilities indicate that cloud computing is different than other approaches to delivering IT. They also suggest several clear advantages. However, not all cloud computing models or solutions are the same.
Some IT organizations have decided they are not yet ready for public clouds due to concerns around governance, security and control. Questions arise as to who can legally gain access to data, whether that data is properly secured and whether the customer organization has adequate control of the data. A common source of concern stems from the shared infrastructure aspects public clouds.
IT organizations trying to avoid the concerns around governance, security and control, yet still seeking the benefits of cloud computing, are turning to private clouds. With respect to the evolution of IT in general and the datacenter in particular, private clouds are the next major step forward for improved cost, efficiency, flexibility, agility and manageability. However, keep in
mind that the requirements for enterprise-class private cloud solutions are stringent. In order to succeed, the right solution from the right vendor must be chosen. The requirements of a private cloud for the enterprise include:
• Heterogeneous support for infrastructure including operating systems, virtual machines, and storage components
• Integration with management tools including security, provisioning, directory, reporting, billing, data management, internal regulation, and compliance – whether third party or internal
• Integration with existing environment including applications and middleware
• Configurable resource allocation policies that are both application-aware and resource-aware to support optimized operations
• Automation to support streamlined IT and business processes
• Scale and performance to go beyond the workgroup and meet enterprise demands
Private Cloud for the Enterprise: PlatformTM
Platform Computing Corporation
Since 1992, Platform Computing Corporation (Platform) has helped organizations identify how the technology infrastructure, including hardware, software and human resources, can be optimized to derive maximum value. By harnessing the power of existing IT resources – from desktops to servers to supercomputers – Platform helps companies balance risk with opportunity, increasing responsiveness and profitability.
During this time, Platform has been a leader in management software for distributed clusters, grids, and high performance computing (HPC) workloads deployed at enterprises. More than 2,000 of the world’s largest companies have benefited from Platform’s technology and expertise to implement cluster and grid solutions. Their strategic partners, including Dell, HP, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Red Hat and SAS, depend on them to deliver custom HPC solutions to their customers.
Now, with a new offering called Platform ISF, Platform Computing is applying its expertise to private cloud computing. As with its other solutions, Platform is providing unique capabilities and pushing forward the state of the art in datacenter architectures.
With respect to the evolution of IT in general and the datacenter in particular,
Platform ISF is software that creates a shared computing infrastructure from physical and virtual resources to deliver application environments according to workload-aware and resource-aware policies. With Platform ISF, IT organizations leverage existing investments to build their own private clouds.
As shown in the diagram, Platform goes beyond traditional mainframe and client/server environments through its existing leadership offerings for both clusters and grids. With the emergence of cloud computing, Platform ISF delivers on the inherent advantages of private clouds and more.
Datacenters today, even those which have embraced virtualization, are still not structured to appropriately match supply with wildly fluctuating demand in a cost-effective and timely manner. What is required is a way to create a shared computing infrastructure from physical and virtual resources to deliver application environments according to workload-aware and resource-aware policies. Platform ISF allows datacenters to transform the way applications are delivered to users and adds value in three primary areas:
Faster delivery of IT services
• Self-service and automation puts control in the hands of the business owners and allows them to access resources on demand according to immediate business requirements
Reduction in IT costs
• Capital expense savings come from a reduction in the amount of server resources required to meet peak application demand across the organization
• Operational savings include reductions in cooling, power, and administrative resources
• By sharing resources across different application groups and business units, utilization can increase from the typical less-than-15% to as high as 80-90%
As the development and adoption of private clouds accelerates, there are a growing number of alternative solutions to consider. And they are certainly not all created equal. Strangely, some of them insist on the purchase of expensive new equipment that integrates server, network and storage components. There may well be further acceptance of these converged infrastructure devices over time. But for now, and for the near term future, very few IT organizations will need or have access to them. Perhaps at the other end of the spectrum from unified devices are the low price, low power scale-out servers. This is another interesting development that over time may gain in popularity for building private clouds. However, there is currently a stronger counter-trend where IT organizations are moving to more powerful scale-up servers to consolidate physical servers and run multiple virtualized workloads.
With these competing and still developing approaches to hardware design, it should be no surprise that many IT organizations have questions about which type of hardware makes most sense for private clouds. Fortunately there is a simple answer. What IT history has proven time and time again is that IT organizations want to leverage their existing investments in infrastructure, tools and skills. By taking a software-based approach, one like that of Platform ISF, IT organizations can simply avoid the additional hardware spending required by other solutions.
Of course having a software-based offering is not the only requirement for selecting a private cloud solution. The solution must integrate with existing environments or it becomes yet another separate technology island to manage and maintain. Platform ISF has again distinguished itself here by supporting heterogeneous hardware and software components such as servers, storage equipment, operating systems, virtual machines, applications and middleware. Platform ISF also supports existing management tools so those investments are also preserved.
The one area of integration which Platform has not yet completed is connectivity with public cloud solutions from external service providers. However, that is in the solution roadmap and will allow additional capabilities like cloudbursting where the private cloud can temporarily get access to additional resources from a public cloud provider.
Platform has taken a fundamentally sound approach to private cloud computing with Platform ISF. On top of this, Platform has developed differentiating features. These include more aggregation of resources for higher utilization at lower cost, and intelligent allocation of resources which translates into faster response to business needs. Additionally, a focus on automation, scale and performance ensures the solution meets the needs of the entire enterprise rather than just a workgroup.
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