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Moving to the Cloud: What's Really Required

Next: Key considerations for cloud storage

When we started talking with a wide range of IT managers and companies in early 2008, we quickly encountered a fascinating dichotomy – Cloud Computing is really easy / Cloud Computing is really hard.  What made this so interesting is that the casual users were saying cloud computing was easy and the hard-core users were claiming that it was hard.  Amazon and a number of other cloud providers have made major advancements since this time, but the “it’s easy / it’s hard” split still exists.

Today, if you want to use the cloud and deploy a server, it is really quite easy to “build” a server from the base templates offered by the cloud providers.  There are consoles available to launch servers including providers' control panels (Amazon, RackSpace, Terramark), plug-ins for Firefox (ElasticFox), and third party products like RightScale.  Start from a predefined image, add your edits, and poof – you have a server running in the cloud.

It becomes a lot more complicated when you try to integrate an application with multiple servers running in the cloud with your existing data center infrastructure.  When I say infrastructure, I mean all of your existing networking, services (DNS, DHCP, LDAP, Identity), build processes, third party applications; basically, the whole of your IT environment that you depend on to make things work.

When you deploy applications in the cloud, they are running on an infrastructure built and maintained by the cloud provider.  This means that there is a certain amount of control that is transferred to the provider –the underlying control and assignment of resources they require in order to manage their environment. You need to understand this new environment, select the appropriate resources, and adapt your application to it.  But moving an application that’s been running in your enterprise infrastructure, with all its associated processes and relationships, to a cloud provider that has its own way of doing things is where using the cloud gets hard.

To highlight some of the difficult areas, we’ll examine a set of issues across a variety of cloud providers out there.  Because there’s a lot of ground to cover, I’ll break up the posts into multiple parts dealing with storage, networking, management, performance, and security.  We’ll start with storage since it represents the real identity of the server and all that is important to your application and business. Stay tuned.

Next:  Key considerations for cloud storage

More Stories By Ellen Rubin

Ellen Rubin is the CEO and co-founder of ClearSky Data, an enterprise storage company that recently raised $27 million in a Series B investment round. She is an experienced entrepreneur with a record in leading strategy, market positioning and go-to- market efforts for fast-growing companies. Most recently, she was co-founder of CloudSwitch, a cloud enablement software company, acquired by Verizon in 2011. Prior to founding CloudSwitch, Ellen was the vice president of marketing at Netezza, where as a member of the early management team, she helped grow the company to more than $130 million in revenues and a successful IPO in 2007. Ellen holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and an undergraduate degree magna cum laude from Harvard University.

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