Alex Jauch -- Architect, Microsoft Private Cloud
As an architect of our private cloud solution, I spend quite a bit of time working on making the components of that solution “Cloud Ready.” What’s funny about this work is that there really isn’t a definition of that term. What makes infrastructure “Cloud Ready” anyway? What types of infrastructure are better or worse for private cloud?
One way to think about this is to go back to core principals. What is our definition of cloud? As we have discussed before in this blog, we use the NIST model of cloud computing for our cloud definition framework. Those characteristics are on-demand self-service, broad network access, resource pooling, rapid elasticity and measured service. This means that our infrastructure must have features that support those five characteristics. Taking a look one layer deeper into actual implementations, the infrastructure that supports these characteristics has to have all the normal infrastructure characteristics. At Microsoft we used to call these the “abilities.” Supportability, Scalability, Stability, etc.
However, there are implications to aspects like self-service, rapid elasticity and measured service that require additional feature sets that not all infrastructure has. For example, you cannot perform self-service without some degree of automation. There is an assumption in the architectural model that the infrastructure provisioning process can to some extent be automated. In addition, the rapid elasticity and resource pooling characteristics assume an ability to operate at scale. That is to say, you are not going to run a cloud on one server. You’re going to have dozens or hundreds. This also implies remote operations. Anything that requires you to login to a local console is going to be just too cumbersome.
So, this implies that there are some critical features that you need to build a cloud. Here are five tests to see how well your infrastructure supports these key characteristics:
As an example, let’s take this set of rules and apply them to our own Private Cloud offering. How well do we eat our own dog food?
As you can see, we are very focused on ensuring that our solutions are a full, complete platform for private cloud. We will continue to improve and there is some great stuff in store for us this year in this space, but we feel that we’re proceeding from a very strong technical foundation that is enabling our future offerings and technologies. I would encourage you to examine your private cloud plans and measure your planned or existing infrastructure against this set of requirements.