It is not the task of the customer to convince themselves that a provider’s public cloud solution is right for them; it’s the provider’s job to present options of cloud delivery. The attraction of SaaS and PaaS cloud computing is that you can secure a service that your business needs and is managed as a whole technological stack (not as a series of traditional IT parts). If a company selects a service, it’s the provider’s task to deliver it the way that best meets the needs of the company. The importance of this has to do with providers being able to sell up-market. Larger enterprises are going to be less interested with public cloud over the Internet for a host of reasons. Of course one could point to SalesForce as an argument that large enterprises won’t mind. However if you consider who uses SalesForce you will find that the typical sales agent does not work from within the four walls of their company’s network. However, if the bulk of the SaaS users are going to be on the corporate network different considerations need to be made when selecting the types of SaaS services.
There are fundamentally three different models of cloud delivery, each with its benefits. Of course with these options will come with a potential cost differences. But for those companies that have the requirement, the cost factor will not be the primary issue.
- Public Cloud over the Internet
- Public Cloud over a Private Network
- Fully Managed Private Cloud Appliances (FMPCA)
Public Cloud over the Internet
The primary method of SaaS and PaaS delivery is in a hosted datacenter that is operated by the service provider. This allows the provider to offer hosted services in a multi-tenant environment. It also drives the cost of systems down and allows the provider full control and ease of system upgrades across large blocks of customer tenants. Connectivity to these providers is over the Internet, which creates a universal backbone for almost any enterprise to connect.
Small to medium enterprises already are accepting of this type of delivery, primarily because they don’t have the resources to build the kind of infrastructure that the provider is offering. Enterprise class services are now available to any size enterprise. It’s now consumption driven.
Public Cloud over a Private Network
Sensitivity to application performance becomes more and more important the larger the enterprise is. Connecting to Cloud services over the public Internet can begin to pose an issue. The Internet backbone lacks quality of service controls. Bandwidth constraints and latency of connection become to variables which are not easily controlled. If you are going to run business critical applications in the cloud, another concern is with other data traffic impacting performance. You can rate-limit traffic leaving your network, but beyond that there is very little control over the public Internet.
Recently, Amazon introduced a service to allow direct connections for your corporate network into their infrastructure. This is a very important development for cloud service providers. They have invested heavily in making their infrastructure highly available and yet connectivity is still reliant on the Internet which is a best effort infrastructure.
All cloud service providers should be looking to offer dedicated network connections if they want to attract larger enterprises. Alternatively or in combination, WAN acceleration technology will be very important for cloud providers as well. If dedicated connection are offered then technologies like Riverbed, and Cisco WAAS could be leveraged. Over the Internet, solutions like Akamai or Aryaka could be used as well for performance enhancement. Obviously, proprietary solutions could be used by these providers. The real trick is that application performance and scaling solutions for larger enterprises will be important for Cloud customers to have successful engagement experiences.
Fully Managed Private Cloud Appliances (FMPCA)
This is a case of, everything old is new again. Remember the AS400? Of course many enterprises still run these systems. They are reliable work horses of the traditional back office. For these enterprises the ability to have in house support was costly and complex. So for many, they would contract IBM directly to support their systems. A modem was installed and connected to the AS400 for complete remote management by IBM. Since the administrative interface was just text and without a bandwidth intensive GUI to be addressed, a simple modem was all that was required.
This idea should be considered by today’s cloud service providers. Today companies like Fonality offer what I would refer to as a fully managed private cloud appliance. The SaaS service resides on an appliance that lives at the customer premise. It is monitored and updated by the SaaS provider. The end user administers the SaaS service by logging into the SaaS provider’s website. Through an SSL connection between the appliance and the provider, full administrative control is achieved.
The advantages of this model are many. If WAN connectivity is lost the service continues to function as normal. The performance can be greatly improved just by virtue of being onsite and no longer being at the mercy of Internet backbone quality issues. Possibly even compliance or regulatory adherence may be more easily achieved.
Private cloud infrastructures offered by Cisco, EMC and NetApp can serve as a new standard for SaaS providers to deploy their services. From a large pool of computing resources, each SaaS provider can have resources carved out based on their requirements. Of course this will not provide application multi-tenancy but rather system multi-tenancy. Imagine an ERP provider deploying an entire ecosystem including their SaaS and PaaS platforms with other SaaS provider’s integrated solutions (EDI, PCI compliance credit processing, logistics, etc.) but all from one fully managed private cloud appliance architecture. In turn, the ERP provider is also supplying an on premise ecosystem that they fully manage.
The implications are significant for the future of Cloud Computing adoption. These tiers represent different methods of providing a complete service delivered to the customer. This will further legitimized the move to cloud services.