Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Right place, right time, right cloud partners

A lot of pundits have picked 2011 as the year that cloud computing goes from “hey, that sounds like a good idea” to “yikes, we need to get this project off the ground” for many enterprise IT shops.

Sure, many of those same IT shops are having strong words right now with their business counterparts arguing over what they’ve been doing in the cloud behind their backs, but at some point it will be time to let bygones be bygones. And time to really get to work. Together.

Recently, CRN provided a couple lists of important cloud providers and platforms for 2011. And, even the government is being helpful. In a sign that things are progressing nicely, the government entity that’s been tracking cloud computing since the early days is maturing its models.

Time to Go Beyond the 3-Layer IaaS, PaaS, SaaS Cake

Several cloud-savvy folks, including Chris Hoff and Christian Reilly, pointed folks to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) website, where the organization has posted work-in-progress drafts of some new items, namely a cloud computing reference architecture. NIST had done a nice job on giving cloud discussions a strong definitional reference point a few years back (we use that definition as our main reference point here at CA Technologies, for example), and it’s time to move to the next stage.

My colleague Andi Mann did a nice analysis of what NIST is up to and what it means. He does have some points to quibble over, but he posted that “despite some clear flaws, I think this is a great document. More than just a series of definitions,” said Andi, “far less than a ‘true’ technical reference architecture, it is advisory and high-level, but practical and usable.”

The Right Time for Management to Take Center Stage

One of the things that has been frustrating about the cloud market to date is the ad hoc, shoot-from-the-hip approach. It’s great for testing the waters and there is, indeed, an important role for “good enough” computing, but as enterprises get more serious about cloud, they need to make sure they are thinking about something near and dear to my heart: management.

Andi points out that this is one of the really good things about this new NIST cloud reference architecture. “I am particularly excited that such a powerful voice in cloud computing is finally highlighting the primary importance of management in their cloud documentation. Almost half this document is focused in cloud management,” writes Andi. “NIST clearly believes a cloud computing environment needs mature management discipline.” Or, as he calls it, “grown-up management.”

Andi’s post goes on to discuss other aspects of the NIST architecture proposal, too, like service management, security, and the role of an independent “cloud auditor.” Worth a read.

Time to Find a Strong Ecosystem to Turn to

At around the same time, CRN chose to publish a couple lists of organizations that enterprises can turn to in their efforts to get some of the aforementioned cloud projects off the ground. And, yes, CA was mentioned on both lists. However, more interesting is who else is on the list with us.

Among the Top 20 Cloud Computing Infrastructure Vendors were folks like AWS, GoGrid, Eucalyptus, Joyent, Randy Bias' Cloudscaling, and Reuven Cohen's Enomaly were two of our partners: ENKI and Layered Tech. Both organizations provide cloud services based on CA 3Tera AppLogic.

· ENKI was noted for its managed cloud computing play that offers scalable virtual private data centers with performance and reliability at their core.

· CRN highlighted how Layered Tech offers managed dedicated hosting, on-demand grid/virtualization computing and Web services, helping business get into the cloud with secure IT infrastructure hosted in top-tier data centers.

The list also included Rackspace and Bluelock, two Nimsoft customers. The aforementioned ENKI is also a Nimsoft customer.

· CRN said that "with Rackspace's Cloud Servers infrastructure play, the top cloud dog of Texas is rivaling the major players with its select-a-size, customizable IaaS" backed by "fanatical support."

· Bluelock, said the write-up, offers VMware capabilities and its data cetners are secure and SAS-70 Type II certified.

As for CA, we were mentioned on the infrastructure vendor list and also as part of the
Top 20 Cloud Computing Platforms for 2011, which described CA 3Tera AppLogic as “a turnkey application-centric cloud platform.”

We’re trying hard to make sure that a big part of what enterprises will find when they consider cloud-related solutions from CA Technologies are partners with technology and expertise to help them along the way, both on-premise and as a service. It’s good to see that those ecosystem partners are getting noticed.

And just in time, too. After all, 2011 is a quarter over already. Only 9 more months until we get to check back in with all those pundits to see if we all delivered on their cloud predictions.

And all those cloud projects.

This blog is cross-posted at CA Cloud Storm Chasers.

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