Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Considering the Cloud? You Might Already Be There.

I'm at IOUG Collaborate 12 this week, and one of the sessions I attended gave me a new perspective on "The Cloud", or at least what it means to have and use a "Private Cloud". I've always had a bit of an eye-roll response to the concept of a Private Cloud - why put a trendy name on something as commonplace and mundane as putting more than one thing on a server/SAN/mainframe, which was my view of a private cloud.

The session I attended was by Michael Timpanaro-Perrotta, of Oracle Corporation. The prentation was one of the more enlightening overviews of what cloud architecture is that I have come across. I won't re-present Michael's work here, but will share a few of my "Aha!" moments.

Aha Moment #1

There is nothing magical about "the cloud". A cloud is presenting technology as a standardized service. It is less about the technology itself or where it is hosted and more about how the service is deployed and delivered. If we are deploying servers in a cowhere fashion where the upkeep becomes transparent to our customers, that is one type of cloud.

Aha Moment #2

In the database sense, a cloud database can be a centrally-managed, consolidated instance that serves a variety of customers and applications. It turns out much of my career has been "cloudy", in this sense. Whenever I have the opportunity, I am a proponent of consolidating instances for ease of manageability and reduced maintenance cost. These are key cloud concepts - common, standardized deployments that serve multiple purposes.

Aha Moment #3

I'm building a private cloud database today. Who knew? Our project is labelled a "server refresh" - nothing about "cloud" in the name, design, or requirements - but we are consolidating similar instances with compatible workload into a single instance. We are migrating from a dedicated host to a shared O/S infrastructure. Eventually this database will move from the shared O/S cluster into an even-more-shared RAC cluster. This is the very process Michael layed out in discussing how organizations move from silos into a private cloud model.

"Cloud" may be the buzzword of the year, but it is not as mysterious as you may think. If you look at your current technology projects, those that simplify things, standardize, virtualize, or share architecture at some level may very well be cloud projects.