Thursday, July 26, 2012

Cloud Computing Use Case - Part 2

In the last post we discussed Cloud Computing Use Group's Cloud Taxonomy; today we are going to dive into their Standards Taxonomy. There are four different ways standards will affect use case scenarios. The standards play a role in the type of cloud service, across different types of cloud services, between enterprise and the cloud, and within the private cloud of an enterprise.

Standards Across Cloud Service Models

Cloud computing is being adopted by all size organizations, this is a revolutionary shift in information technology that is transforming the way we work and is clearly illustrated with cloud solutions like, Google Apps, and Concur for SaaS, Microsoft Azure and Cloud Foundry for PaaS, and Amazon EC2 and Rackspace for IaaS. Standards for how these different types of cloud service models work together will provide cloud consumer's value.

Standards Within Cloud Service Models

Within each layer of the cloud service model (SaaS, PaaS, IaaS), open standards help prevent vendor lock-in.

Open standards and standard APIs are all about portability, the most applicable open standards to cloud computing are those adopted by the non-profit Open Cloud Initiative (OCI), a non-profit advocate of open cloud computing that was launched at OSCON in 2011.

OCI's requirements for an open cloud are:

  1. Open Formats: All user data and metadata must be represented in open standard formats
  2. Open Interfaces: All functionality must be exposed by the way of open standard interfaces
For Infrastructure as a Service, a standard set of APIs to work with cloud databases would allow applications to work with data from multiple vendors. That common API would give users the freedom to move to another cloud database provider without major changes, and it would make it much easier to integrate new data sources with existing applications. Common APIs for other cloud infrastructure services such as storage, message queues or MapReduce would provide similar benefits, as would common formats for data and data interchange. In the case of virtual machines, a common virtual machine format is crucial. Users should be able to take a VM built and deployed with one cloud provider and deploy it to another cloud provider without changes.

DMTF’s Open Virtualization Format (OVF) is a packaging standard designed to address the portability and deployment of virtual appliances which demonstrates an open standard.  OVF enables simplified and error-free deployment of virtual appliances across multiple virtualization platforms.

Some other notable open cloud compute initiatives for IaaS include:

  • Openstack
  • Eucalyptus
  • OpenNebula
  • Nimbus
For Platform as a Service, many of the platforms provided in the cloud are application frameworks. Those frameworks typically provide common services such as user interfaces, storage and databases, but they are accessible only through the APIs of the framework.

Cloud Foundry is an example of an open platform as a service; providing a choice of clouds, developer frameworks, and application services.

For Software as a Service, open standards apply at the application level. Very little of the standards work here is cloud-specific, so those standards are beyond the scope of this paper. For example, a cloud-based word processing application should support standards for document portability; the requirement for standards support in a word processing application has nothing to do with whether the application is running in the cloud. 

Standards Between The Enterprise

Open standards that define how an enterprise application communicates with resources that are deployed in a hybrid cloud deployment model will enable greater integration with little to no changes in enterprise architecture. Figuring out how to integrate cloud computing with existing architectures and development paradigms will be a major challenge in the PaaS service model when used in a hybrid cloud deployment.

Standards Within An Enterprise

Standards within an enterprise will be determined by governance, portability, audit requirements, security, and risk management. These requirements will be the foundation of the standards that will be applied between the enterprises and the cloud.

In my next post, we will dive into the different levels and categories of APIs. The Cloud Taxonomy, Standards Taxonomy, and API mechanisms will provide us with the underpinnings for looking at the Cloud Case Use Group's use case scenarios. 
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