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What does it take to make a cloud?

"The future of the datacenter has gotten really cloudy lately..."

It’s the season of IT vendor user conferences.  Wonder what the focus of the conferences is this year?  I’m sure it won’t come as a surprise that every conference has a theme around “The Cloud”.  The most interesting thing to me is that each conference has “The Solution” as well.  If you sit in these conferences for very long, you immediately figure out that you can have your cloud just by using the vendor’s products.  This “cloud in a box” solution sounds really good until you start looking inside their cloud and understand what’s really happening.  By choosing their solution, you just locked into this chosen vendor’s solutions for the cloud.  It’s the same old story: vendor lock-in with just a different name or technology.

When we think about the cloud, the whole idea is to be able to be very agile in choosing the hardware you want for the best price.  Along with this, you want to be able to provide the services your consumers need quickly.  A cloud architecture should have the following 6 characteristics.

1.       Pooled resources

2.       Hardware abstraction

3.       On-demand scalability and contractibility

4.       Metering and chargeback

5.       Ability to use both physical and virtual resources

6.       Agility to move quickly between all resources

To do this most efficiently, the right software infrastructure must be in place to support it.  Instead of thinking of your IT services as a cloud which is difficult at times to see, think of it more as a utility such as electric or water.  These utility companies provide services all the time to millions of customers.  Customers don’t know how they get the electricity in their house, but they know when they turn on a switch in their house they get what they want.  The electric company has the infrastructure in place to be able to provide this.  As a consumer, we don’t know how it gets to our house but we know that it does get there.  We don’t care what hardware is used to deliver it but I’m sure the utility uses the most economical yet reliable means to get it to me.

A cloud needs to fit the same model.  What hardware is used does not matter provided it is economical and reliable.  What matters most is that a software infrastructure is in place to support the choice of any  hardware.  Symantec is uniquely positioned with enterprise class tools to help customers have the software in place to run on whatever operating system or storage platform.  Our customers have the software infrastructure already in place.   Tools like VOM (Veritas Operations Manager) give insight from application to spindle to drive utilization and promote accountability across the IT infrastructure.  It also provides visibility into Veritas Storage Foundation which supports over 1000 different storage arrays across Solaris, AIX, HP-UX, Linux and Windows allowing you to choose the right storage from the right vendor for the right price. Veritas Cluster Server  provides high availability and disaster recovery protection across the same operating systems.  Managed by VOM, it gives you the ability to combine all the layers of your business application and manage them as one single service.  Symantec provides all of the software necessary to run and manage the cloud.