A “Rainless” Cloud Needs Solid Physical Infrastructure

A “Rainless” Cloud Needs Solid Physical Infrastructure

Posted by Bill Thomas June 15, 2012 7:08:25 PM

The one important thing to remember about the cloud is that companies like the ROI and that they like it — a lot.

That may seem to be an obvious opinion, but it makes the fact that its existence is likely to be experienced across the entire IT continuum. IT and its business constituency is now single-mindedly absorbed on the cloud for greater efficiency and data flexibility.

Even physical infrastructure being deployed is undergoing change today. Automation is the key driver, cloud platforms now offer a range of self service sign-up and visibility and optimization tools to ensure that the systems going into place will provide the widest support for shifting virtual and cloud configurations.

In many cases, the cloud will produce a contraction of physical footprint rather than an expansion, see what Viawest has done with their KINECTed™ Cloud offering. Resources without capital expense. KINECTed™ Cloud provides a dynamic pool of computing, storage, and networking resources without capital expense or ongoing personnel costs. Through resource pooling, KINECTed™ Cloud offers an elastic yet measured service ideal for public facing content, disaster recovery, staging, test, and development resources.

As time continues to march on in dog years, hardware platforms will forge ever-closer ties with cloud resources, both as a means to lower costs and increase performance. Nvidia’s new VGX platform, for example, aims to improve graphics and advanced applications across numerous devices by forging direct links between server-based graphics cards and client-side VMs. This is seen as a step up from previous initiatives like RemoteFX and View 5 in that it removes all abstraction between the physical GPU and the VM, preserving crucial drivers and abilities like Directx11, OpenGL and CUDA.

And because demand for cloud resources is growing so fast, the pressure is on to put the physical layer in place quickly and on budget. That’s why much of the cloud will rest on commodity hardware, which is gaining increased favor among the very largest enterprises. Facebook, for example, has issued an entire commodity blueprint under its Open Compute Project, which seeks to nail down everything from board, server and rack dimensions to power supplies and cabinet designs. The company has numerous vendors on board, including HP, AMD, VMware and Dell — a testament to the clout of one of the industry’s biggest hardware buyers.

Conventional thinking holds that hardware is irrelevant once you’re on the cloud, which is true enough for the user. Cloud providers, however, will care very much about the design and deployment of future generations of hardware. After all, the ability to maintain service levels in the cloud will depend largely on what is happening on the ground.