I'm wondering if the battle between Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) cloud platforms is even worthy of debate. That's because it seems that the ultimate goal of any IaaS platform is to give organizations the ability to abstract the data center and run its resources from anywhere, on any service. I'm asking a larger question: What happens when you are able perform a physical-to-virtual (P2V) conversion of the entire data center?
Let's fast forward the conversation around cloud computing by a few years. What happens when Moore's Law, which dictates that computing capabilities double every 18 months, catches up with cloud? There will be an unavoidable effect on cloud computing. If we draw an intersection between the virtual data center and cloud computing, we come up with a model of computing that's much more abstract than it is today.
Today, we have to consider compute, network and storage compatibility as part of an organization's IaaS strategy. When we have complete abstraction, however, compatibility becomes less of an issue. Just as server virtualization lessens the reliance on the underlying hardware, abstraction will lessen the reliance on the individual IaaS cloud platform for virtual data centers.
I don't believe the portability of the virtual data center from provider to provider with a click of a button is too far-fetched of an idea. General x86 compute is already being used in many areas of technology that are not related to traditional use cases. Just a few years ago, it would have been hard to envision being able to run dozens of instances of Windows on a single physical server. X86 virtualization has become so powerful that I was able to install an entire virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) session on my laptop. It would have also been difficult to believe that x86-based systems would someday threaten to commoditize the networking industry via software-defined networking (SDN).
The virtual data center and the future vision of cloud computing are both deeply dependent on the abstraction of the network, better known as SDN. SDN is enabled by the ability to virtualize the control and data planes at acceptable speeds for production networks. This separation is, of course, enabled by the progression of the software and hardware layer of the x86 platform.
The foundation of this vision for cloud-hosted virtual data centers is that the x86 virtualization used in IaaS will become so powerful that you will one day be able to run your entire data center in the cloud without making major changes to the underlying logical infrastructure. Imagine being able to perform a P2V conversion of your data center to Amazon Web Services' (AWS) IaaS environment or to VMware's vCloud Hybrid Cloud Service.
The ability to migrate your data center wholesale will come as the underlying network virtualization and compute capabilities continue to grow. However, cloud platforms and delivery are about more than just virtualizing the underlying subsystems. They're also about providing the ability to deliver services via a self-service interface and to provide metered-usage capabilities. Virtualization alone doesn't provide these capabilities.
The cloud platform, be it open source (CloudStack, OpenStack or Eucalyptus) or proprietary (VMware, BMC or AWS), provides these additional services. Future IaaS capabilities will allow for more portable infrastructure resources. There still is a need to understand which cloud platform is best for your organization, both in the long term and short term.
- Building Scalable Data Center Networks –Cumulus
- SDN Across the Data Center and the Network: Expert Insight –SearchSecurity.com
- Network Virtualization: The Next Step in Data Center Transformation –AdvizeX Technologies
- Tips for Deploying Network Virtualization in the Data Center –SearchSecurity.com