Welcome!

Cloud Expo Authors: Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Vincent Brasseur, Ignacio M. Llorente

Related Topics: Cloud Expo

Cloud Expo: Article

The Five Pillars of Cloud Computing

Cloud computing requires a dynamic computing infrastructure - there are four other pillars, too

Cloud computing is getting tons of press these days. Everyone has a different perspective and understanding of the technology, and there are myriad variations on the definition of the cloud- William Fellows and John Barr at the 451 Group define cloud computing as the intersection of grid, virtualization, SaaS, and utility computing models. James Staten of Forrester Research describes it as a pool of abstracted, highly scalable, and managed compute infrastructure capable of hosting end-customer applications and billed by consumption. Let's take it a step further and examine the core principles, or pillars, that uniquely define cloud computing.

Pillar 1: Dynamic Computing Infrastructure
Cloud computing requires a dynamic computing infrastructure. The foundation for the dynamic infrastructure is a standardized, scalable, and secure physical infrastructure. There should be levels of redundancy to ensure high levels of availability, but mostly it must be easy to extend as usage growth demands it, without requiring architecture rework. Next, it must be virtualized. Today, virtualized environments leverage server virtualization (typically from VMware, Microsoft, or Xen) as the basis for running services. These services need to be easily provisioned and de-provisioned via software automation. These service workloads need to be moved from one physical server to another as capacity demands increase or decrease. Finally, this infrastructure should be highly utilized, whether provided by an external cloud provider or an internal IT department. The infrastructure must deliver business value over and above the investment.

A dynamic computing infrastructure is critical to effectively supporting the elastic nature of service provisioning and de-provisioning as requested by users while maintaining high levels of reliability and security. The consolidation provided by virtualization, coupled with provisioning automation, creates a high level of utilization and reuse, ultimately yielding a very effective use of capital equipment

Pillar 2: IT Service-Centric Approach
Cloud computing is IT (or business) service-centric. This is in stark contrast to more traditional system- or server- centric models. In most cases, users of the cloud generally want to run some business service or application for a specific, timely purpose; they don't want to get bogged down in the system and network administration of the environment. They would prefer to quickly and easily access a dedicated instance of an application or service. By abstracting away the server-centric view of the infrastructure, system users can easily access powerful pre-defined computing environments designed specifically around their service.

An IT Service Centric approach enables user adoption and business agility - the easier and faster a user can perform an administrative task the more expedient the business moves, reducing costs or driving revenue.

Pillar 3: Self-Service Based Usage Model
Interacting with the cloud requires some level of user self-service. Best of breed self-service provides users the ability to upload, build, deploy, schedule, manage, and report on their business services on demand. Self-service cloud offerings must provide easy-to-use, intuitive user interfaces that equip users to productively manage the service delivery lifecycle.

The benefit of self service from the users' perspective is a level of empowerment and independence that yields significant business agility. One benefit often overlooked from the service provider's or IT team's perspective is that the more self service that can be delegated to users, the less administrative involvement is necessary. This saves time and money and allows administrative staff to focus on more strategic, high-valued responsibilities.

Pillar 4: Minimally or Self-Managed Platform
In order for an IT team or a service provider to efficiently provide a cloud for its constituents, they must leverage a technology platform that is self managed. Best-of-breed clouds enable self-management via software automation, leveraging the following capabilities:

  • A provisioning engine for deploying services and tearing them down recovering resources for high levels of reuse
  • Mechanisms for scheduling and reserving resource capacity
  • Capabilities for configuring, managing, and reporting to ensure resources can be allocated and reallocated to multiple groups of users
  • Tools for controlling access to resources and policies for how resources can be used or operations can be performed

All of these capabilities enable business agility while simultaneously enacting critical and necessary administrative control. This balance of control and delegation maintains security and uptime, minimizes the level of IT administrative effort, and keeps operating expenses low, freeing up resources to focus on higher value projects.

Pillar 5: Consumption-Based Billing
Finally, cloud computing is usage-driven. Consumers pay for only what resources they use and therefore are charged or billed on a consumption-based model. Cloud computing platforms must provide mechanisms to capture usage information that enables chargeback reporting and/or integration with billing systems.

The value here from a user's perspective is the ability for them to pay only for the resources they use, ultimately helping them keep their costs down. From a provider's perspective, it allows them to track usage for charge back and billing purposes.

In summary, all of these five pillars are necessary in producing an enterprise private cloud capable of achieving compelling business value which includes savings on capital equipment and operating costs, reduced support costs, and significantly increased business agility. All of these enable corporations to improve their profit margins and competitiveness in the markets they serve.

More Stories By Dave Malcolm

Dave Malcolm is Vice President & Chief Technologist for Virtualization and Cloud at Quest. With more than 20 years of experience in high tech and enterprise software development, he drives product and technology strategy. Most recently, Malcolm served as the CTO of Surgient, where he led the development team responsible for the creation, delivery, and implementation of the enterprise-class Cloud Automation Platform. With a keen focus on both innovation and practical application, Malcolm and his team have developed a robust infrastructure-as-a-service cloud automation platform and multiple granted cloud computing patents.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@CloudExpo Stories
The Internet of Things will put IT to its ultimate test by creating infinite new opportunities to digitize products and services, generate and analyze new data to improve customer satisfaction, and discover new ways to gain a competitive advantage across nearly every industry. In order to help corporate business units to capitalize on the rapidly evolving IoT opportunities, IT must stand up to a new set of challenges. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Kaplan, Managing Director of THINKstrateg...
How do APIs and IoT relate? The answer is not as simple as merely adding an API on top of a dumb device, but rather about understanding the architectural patterns for implementing an IoT fabric. There are typically two or three trends: Exposing the device to a management framework Exposing that management framework to a business centric logic Exposing that business layer and data to end users. This last trend is the IoT stack, which involves a new shift in the separation of what stuff happe...
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, examined three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective ...
Cultural, regulatory, environmental, political and economic (CREPE) conditions over the past decade are creating cross-industry solution spaces that require processes and technologies from both the Internet of Things (IoT), and Data Management and Analytics (DMA). These solution spaces are evolving into Sensor Analytics Ecosystems (SAE) that represent significant new opportunities for organizations of all types. Public Utilities throughout the world, providing electricity, natural gas and water,...
"Matrix is an ambitious open standard and implementation that's set up to break down the fragmentation problems that exist in IP messaging and VoIP communication," explained John Woolf, Technical Evangelist at Matrix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
When an enterprise builds a hybrid IaaS cloud connecting its data center to one or more public clouds, security is often a major topic along with the other challenges involved. Security is closely intertwined with the networking choices made for the hybrid cloud. Traditional networking approaches for building a hybrid cloud try to kludge together the enterprise infrastructure with the public cloud. Consequently this approach requires risky, deep "surgery" including changes to firewalls, subnets...
DevOps is all about agility. However, you don't want to be on a high-speed bus to nowhere. The right DevOps approach controls velocity with a tight feedback loop that not only consists of operational data but also incorporates business context. With a business context in the decision making, the right business priorities are incorporated, which results in a higher value creation. In his session at DevOps Summit, Todd Rader, Solutions Architect at AppDynamics, discussed key monitoring techniques...
Want to enable self-service provisioning of application environments in minutes that mirror production? Can you automatically provide rich data with code-level detail back to the developers when issues occur in production? In his session at DevOps Summit, David Tesar, Microsoft Technical Evangelist on Microsoft Azure and DevOps, will discuss how to accomplish this and more utilizing technologies such as Microsoft Azure, Visual Studio online, and Application Insights in this demo-heavy session.
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, discussed how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money!
One of the biggest challenges when developing connected devices is identifying user value and delivering it through successful user experiences. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mike Kuniavsky, Principal Scientist, Innovation Services at PARC, described an IoT-specific approach to user experience design that combines approaches from interaction design, industrial design and service design to create experiences that go beyond simple connected gadgets to create lasting, multi-device exp...
P2P RTC will impact the landscape of communications, shifting from traditional telephony style communications models to OTT (Over-The-Top) cloud assisted & PaaS (Platform as a Service) communication services. The P2P shift will impact many areas of our lives, from mobile communication, human interactive web services, RTC and telephony infrastructure, user federation, security and privacy implications, business costs, and scalability. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robin Raymond, Chief Architect...
High-performing enterprise Software Quality Assurance (SQA) teams validate systems that are ready for use - getting most actively involved as components integrate and form complete systems. These teams catch and report on defects, making sure the customer gets the best software possible. SQA teams have leveraged automation and virtualization to execute more thorough testing in less time - bringing Dev and Ops together, ensuring production readiness. Does the emergence of DevOps mean the end of E...
Scott Jenson leads a project called The Physical Web within the Chrome team at Google. Project members are working to take the scalability and openness of the web and use it to talk to the exponentially exploding range of smart devices. Nearly every company today working on the IoT comes up with the same basic solution: use my server and you'll be fine. But if we really believe there will be trillions of these devices, that just can't scale. We need a system that is open a scalable and by using ...
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, discussed single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series dat...
"Verizon offers public cloud, virtual private cloud as well as private cloud on-premises - many different alternatives. Verizon's deep knowledge in applications and the fact that we are responsible for applications that make call outs to other systems. Those systems and those resources may not be in Verizon Cloud, we understand at the end of the day it's going to be federated," explained Anne Plese, Senior Consultant, Cloud Product Marketing at Verizon Enterprise, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at...
"For the past 4 years we have been working mainly to export. For the last 3 or 4 years the main market was Russia. In the past year we have been working to expand our footprint in Europe and the United States," explained Andris Gailitis, CEO of DEAC, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The Domain Name Service (DNS) is one of the most important components in networking infrastructure, enabling users and services to access applications by translating URLs (names) into IP addresses (numbers). Because every icon and URL and all embedded content on a website requires a DNS lookup loading complex sites necessitates hundreds of DNS queries. In addition, as more internet-enabled ‘Things' get connected, people will rely on DNS to name and find their fridges, toasters and toilets. Acco...
The term culture has had a polarizing effect among DevOps supporters. Some propose that culture change is critical for success with DevOps, but are remiss to define culture. Some talk about a DevOps culture but then reference activities that could lead to culture change and there are those that talk about culture change as a set of behaviors that need to be adopted by those in IT. There is no question that businesses successful in adopting a DevOps mindset have seen departmental culture change, ...
"Cloud consumption is something we envision at Solgenia. That is trying to let the cloud spread to the user as a consumption, as utility computing. We want to allow the people to just pay for what they use, not a subscription model," explained Ermanno Bonifazi, CEO & Founder of Solgenia, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Enthusiasm for the Internet of Things has reached an all-time high. In 2013 alone, venture capitalists spent more than $1 billion dollars investing in the IoT space. With "smart" appliances and devices, IoT covers wearable smart devices, cloud services to hardware companies. Nest, a Google company, detects temperatures inside homes and automatically adjusts it by tracking its user's habit. These technologies are quickly developing and with it come challenges such as bridging infrastructure gaps,...