Can You Control Your Cloud?

As Big Data Gets Bigger, the Complexity of Managing Even ‘Simple’ IaaS Platforms Grows

By Denoid Tucker, TierPoint CTO

As I meet with executives and technology decision makers across the country, I’ve found a growing trend rising among them. Many have been sold on large cloud platforms such as Amazon Web Services (AWS) as a one-size-fits-all panacea for their entire infrastructure backbone. What most didn’t anticipate and are now facing are the complexities and limits apparent in such platforms.

Your Cloud SpotlightAWS is fantastic at what it does. Want to spin up a server? Mission accomplished with a few clicks of a mouse. However, as one moves beyond the tactical to strategic infrastructure design and implementation, managing AWS can become just as complex and time consuming as managing in-house hardware and data center equipment. Whether physical or virtual, the question remains the same – do you have the available resources to dedicate solely to managing infrastructure? If you’re a busy service provider or application developer, chances are the answer is a resounding “no.”

Whether with AWS, an in-house private cloud, or a hybrid combination of platforms, the reality is that modern IT infrastructure still requires management, oversight and investment. The online portals and slick presentations wrapped around platforms like AWS make it seem like managing cloud infrastructure is as easy as logging into Gmail. Anyone who has dealt with being responsible for data security, application performance and resource uptime knows that dealing with truly mission-critical infrastructure is a much more demanding challenge. As Big Data balloons the footprint of infrastructure, the challenge of strong infrastructure management follows suit.

It’s also important to note that AWS and large public clouds quite often are not flexible enough to accommodate an organization’s total infrastructure footprint. For example, say Company X has 10 racks of servers and storage in colocation. Using AWS, they’re able to virtualize 80% of the infrastructure. However, Company X also has a couple stacks of IBM gear running a legacy application that cannot simply or easily be recreated in AWS. What happens with that critical infrastructure component? There’s likely someone on staff who “owns” the management of it. Will that person now also be tasked with making sure the legacy system works seamlessly with the new (and untested) AWS platform? What happens when AWS updates APIs or rolls out a new update? Will it still play nicely with the legacy app? Who is going to keep the entire infrastructure working in concert? How secure is the connection between the two? The questions go on and on.

This is where a truly flexible and responsive Managed Services Provider comes into play. There’s a new market taking shape calling for holistic, comprehensive cloud management. Saying “we’re with Amazon” no longer means all IaaS concerns are magically solved or so wonderfully automated that resources are not needed to manage it. On the contrary, as the Big Data push puts increased pressure on IaaS systems and the risk of security breaches lingers overhead, having a trusted partner to bringing all elements of the cloud together is needed more than ever.

Cloud computing has opened up a new world of flexible, software-defined solutions for IT infrastructure. The goal now is not to harness the benefits of virtualization, but to control and manage it efficiently. Infrastructure should power your business, not the other way around.

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