Building a Dynamic, Interoperable Cloud - Arthur Cole, IT Business Edge

It's been said that virtualization is a means to an end, with the implication that "the end" is in fact the cloud.

But that's not entirely true, considering the cloud is merely another tool in the quest for an even greater end: a fully dynamic, endlessly scalable data environment.

For most enterprises, that means a lively mix of public, private and hybrid resources, all operating as a single, integrated environment that enables users to access only the resources they need for the job at hand.

Sounds simple on paper.

The challenge, however, will be to assemble the right components to make it happen. And increasingly, it looks like most enterprises will be burdened with too many options, rather than too few.

HP, for example, is offering enhanced integration of VMware software into its Converged Infrastructure platform, which the company says will accelerate deployment of hybrid clouds. Specifically, the company is promising up to 50 percent capacity reclamation by uniting the 3PAR storage ASIC and the vSphere Storage API, improved workload processing with vSphere 5 running on 2-TB-ready ProLiant servers, plus a host of management and QoS benefits through heightened integration between VMware platforms and HP products like the Intelligent Management Center and the TippingPoint vController.

At the same time, EMC is looking to boost its hybrid cloud creds with a new storage management platform called ProSphere. The goal is to enhance enterprises' ability to manage large, diverse environments as a cohesive whole, improving data migration and the ability to reach out across public, private and hybrid infrastructures. The system features tools like agentless discovery, end-to-end view capability and a "Smart Groups" policy management engine that allows object management based on characteristics, rather than location.

Some smaller firms are offering an even easier path to cloud nirvana. Gale Technologies says that the new tiering capability on its Turnkey Cloud solution allows enterprises to transform current infrastructure to a private or hybrid cloud in about two weeks. At Cisco Live recently, the company showed an integrated platform for NetApp and Cisco environments that lets enterprises create tiered server, network and storage services that can be used to build end-to-end resource data infrastructures.

For some, the key to integrated cloud environments is middleware. By fostering an open, interoperable environment, middleware enables both application development and deployment into various clouds. WSO2, for instance, recently launched the Stratos 1.5 platform and StratosLive PaaS systems, which build on the company's Carbon platform to extend self-provisioning, multi-tenancy, metering and other tools on the cloud. This lets users easily migrate applications and servers across local platforms, as well as public, private and hybrid environments.

For most enterprises, this is pretty heady stuff. It's difficult to focus attention on advanced cloud architectures when you're still trying to master the intricacies of plain-old virtualization.

Still, the future has a way of sneaking up on you, so it's probably a good idea to at least keep pace with where things are headed so you can begin laying the groundwork for a more adaptable, dynamic infrastructure right away.