Why Portability and Interoperability Matter in Hybrid Cloud Environments

My Post (65).pngCloud computing has revolutionized the computing universe, opening the world to a larger pool of resources, big data platforms, intensive computing and faster throughput. As organizations expand their cloud footprint, the ability to use on premises as well as cloud environments, along with a combination of multiple cloud vendors, has led to a mashup of computing environments. This has given rise to what we today call hybrid, multi-cloud platforms.

Portability and Interoperability in a Hybrid Cloud Environment

A hybrid cloud environment is a combination of on premises and private clouds, as well as multiple public cloud spaces. These all interact with each other to provide services across an enterprise. Using a multi-cloud environment is new to most organizations and requires planning to ensure a seamless flow of data and information across these environments, thus raising concerns around interoperability and portability.

Another important concern for cloud computing is onboarding — the deployment or migration of workloads to a cloud service. Migration from on-prem to cloud as well as from one cloud service provider (CSP) to another requires portability of those components that can be moved to the cloud, and interoperability with remaining in-house systems.

Interoperability and portability are often used interchangeably in the context of cloud computing since many of their technical solutions are the same. However, the two concepts are different:

Interoperability in the context of cloud environments, is the ability of a product, application, system or technology to work with other systems and technology to facilitate the exchange of information and data across them. It is mainly a concern for multi-cloud or hybrid cloud environments to ensure the proper functionality of their services with the external world. In some cases, interoperability requires a previous knowledge or agreement of the systems with which the current one will inter-operate.

Portability is the ability to move and adapt applications and data between on premises systems and across multiple cloud service providers. Cloud portability is a concern to  consider when designing an application, data or service. The aim is to minimize the human efforts in redesign and redeployment of application, data and services when moving from one cloud to another or when moving from on prem to cloud.

Key Enablers of Portability in Hybrid Cloud Environments

Both interoperability and portability of data and applications are a key attribute that directly dictates the ability to manage seamless transfer of data and applications between alternative CSPs. Below we explore some key enablers for portability in a hybrid, multi-cloud environment:

Open APIs and Standards

The classic way to bust the interoperability and portability problem is the adoption of standards and open source APIs. An open architecture based on open APIs and standards is the first step in building a portable application, while at the same time promoting interoperability. A clear mandate to specify and publish open APIs and standards is a must-have.

The most commonly used standard in cloud computing is the Open Cloud Computing Interface (OCCI). OCCI is a specification for remote management of cloud service infrastructure. It allows the development of tools for common tasks including deployment, monitoring and autonomic scaling. Its API supports three concepts: compute, network and storage.

Other open standards are OVF, CDMI and the Topology and Orchestration Specification for Cloud Applications (TOSCA). TOSCA enables the portable and standardized management of cloud services, where composite applications and their management is done based on service templates that contain a service’s topology and its operational aspects. – Read more


The changing market in cloud storage

My Post (64).pngCloud continues to grow and evolve

The Emergence of Distributed Edge Cloud Computing

My Post (63).pngThe growth of connected devices is seeing a fundamental change in how people and enterprises engage with each other in the digital world. But for this to be truly effective, these devices cannot solely rely on existing cloud infrastructure that was built to support millions of siloed apps.
Instead, a decentralized approach that fully leverages these devices capabilities is essential.

Today, all the most popular consumer and enterprise applications are hosted in data centers. From Google and Facebook to YouTube and Instagram, this cloud-centric methodology has become essential for enabling our connected lifestyles. Underpinning this is a hierarchical client-server architecture that sees most servers located in data centers scattered around the globe. For years, this has been the optimum way of hosting applications that provide access to content and information to client devices (e.g.: smartphones or tablets.) However, new trends point to this quickly becoming a less efficient way of managing data.

Changing landscape
Firstly, there has been an explosion of computing devices and embedded computing in all things. This has grown the ‘edge’, often referred to as the Internet of Things, where devices are connected to centralized servers in data centers through gateways and hubs. However, with edge devices having more computational power than servers of just a decade ago, the edge is becoming progressively more powerful.

Secondly, the advent of social media on mobile devices, orders-of-magnitude more personal multimedia content are generated on these edge devices. People are creating and sharing thousands of times more content than what major studios and broadcasters are hosting on central servers in the cloud. Today, most of the data generated on (edge) devices is sent back to servers on the central cloud for processing and to facilitate sharing.

The third trend is the decomposition of solutions. The emergence of APIs and microservices and their automated deployment are contributing to a serverless backend environment. Instead, the cloud is used to scale resources to fit demand either through volume or geography.

A new way
The current fixed and hierarchical client-server approach makes central cloud resources and network connectivity the bottleneck for future growth. Sending data from hundreds of billions of client devices to tens of millions of centralized cloud servers wastes bandwidth and energy and it has serious social and economic implications.

Furthermore, developers are reliant on cloud service providers who have access to the apps and the data stored or processed in their servers. Essentially, a handful of large companies have to manage the majority of consumer and enterprise data. And despite all the sophisticated security measures, storing data and hosting applications on third-party resources exposes the owners of the information to risks.

This challenge of exponential growth of computing at the edge, has opened up a massive opportunity. Enabling any computing device to act as a cloud server when it makes sense to do so can create a hybrid edge cloud that scales organically with new capable devices. In this way, central cloud resources that require significant real-estate and power, and are bandwidth hungry can offload much of their burden onto edge devices. Many microservices can be hosted on edge devices instead of being hosted in a centralized server, making them faster and more flexible to changing user requirements.

Edge power
Acting as servers when feasible, edge devices can perform many of the functions of the servers in central cloud. This creates a hybrid edge cloud that is significantly more powerful than the centralized cloud.

For example, there are currently over 80 million Sony PlayStation 4 (PS4) consoles in peoples’ homes. This represents more than 600 million processor cores and 40,000 petabytes of storage. In comparison, this is much larger computing, storage, and memory resources in the aggregate than the entire Amazon Web Services (AWS) infrastructure.

And the PS4 is only one type of device. There are billions of smartphones, PCs, set-top-boxes, game consoles, streaming players, routers, tablets, and other computing devices that can potentially act as cloud servers.

The benefits of such a hybrid edge cloud architecture are phenomenal. From reduced cloud hosting costs and communication bandwidth and latency to improved network efficiency, reduced energy consumption and carbon emission. Moreover, this new approach leads to increased data privacy and providing consumers and enterprises with better control over their data. – Read more