Thursday 18 February 2010

Creating DMZs in the Cloud
One of the things being heavily pitched toward anybody building a cloud computing service these days is the value of highly integrated servers. The thinking goes that the higher the level of integration, the lower the cost to maintain and run the system.

But there is another argument that speaks to the need to isolate specific sets of services inside a larger cloud computing service. For example, if you go with an integrated server, you pretty much have to move in lockstep with that vendor for all your servers, networking and storage. If there is a major advance in any one of these areas, a chief technologist running a cloud computing service on an integrated server might not be able to take advantage of it until the vendor upgrades the entire system. Given the long-term nature of cloud computing services and the level of cut-throat competition, that might not be the strategic way to go.

Instead, vendors such as DataCore Software, a provider of storage virtualization software, argue that cloud computing services should, for example, isolate services like storage using a software-only approach that makes it realtively easy to create pools of storage by mixing and matching storage hardware from multiple vendors. This approach helps creates a “demilitarized zone” between technologies that allow IT organizations to continue to leverage multile vendors to take advantage of ongoing advances in technology.

According to Augie Gonzalez, DataCore Software director of product marketing, this approach also provides the ability to leverage inexpensive cache on the server to drive performance, versus relying on limited amounts of expensive cache on the storage arrays. Gonzalez also points out that as software offering, DataCore can offer the same level of integration with cloud computing offerings such as Cisco Nexus virtual switches and VMware’s vSphere management software.

So all things being equal, the question becomes is it worth mortgaging the future to gain some short term gains in system administration that can probably be achieved anyway without locking in the hardware?

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