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The goal of this three part series is to describe the strategy and framework for constructing an ecosystem from cloud services to best serve your enterprise.  It’s also a discussion about the future role of cloud service providers and how the end user will become ultimately empowered.

Public Cloud Ecosystem

In the first part of this series, we discussed how you can organize cloud services to create an ecosystem through contracted SLAs and process mapping.  But, integrating cloud services to create an ecosystem has some challenges both in infrastructure and cost.  Data that has to move between public cloud offerings like those from Amazon, RackSpace, SalesForce, SAP, NetSuite, TerreMark, Azure, IBM, etc. will leverage the Internet backbone to do so.  The primary issue is that the Internet provides no quality of service, and latency can vary which will impact some services.  The other issue is that you may incur transit fees from each provider as you exchanged data between them.

Today, those who desire to have high availability from the Infrastructure as a Service provider will keep all computing resources within a single provider’s network and multiple datacenters.  But if you want to replicate your virtual system infrastructure from one cloud provider to another, you are again going to see transit fees and a lack of quality of service when moving data across the Internet.

There is a remedy, and we are starting to see the model emerge.  Contact Center as a Service provider Interactive Intelligence has already instituted the new cloud standard.  They have brought in data connections in partnership with many of the top tiered telco providers.  Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and others now have the means to extend an enterprise’s MPLS (private wide area network) network into the cloud provider’s data center.  In this model, you have quality of service and you will bypass any transit fees because the data traffic does not go over Internet anymore.

When cloud providers host the telco’s data network infrastructures within their datacenters, we can see that a hive of direct connectivity among the cloud providers can occur.  We can go back to our process defined integrations and legitimately secure the SLAs in a meaningful way. We will have the same quality of service infrastructure as if it were an enterprise’s private datacenters.

This will become the new requirement for being considered a tier 1 cloud ecosystem provider.  This added requirement however, will further reduce the list of cloud providers who will be able to provide true tier 1 ecosystem services.  There is however a much bigger implication for these cloud providers.  They are about to reshape the entire Internet backbone.

High speed connectivity with quality of service will be an extremely important factor for the future of cloud computing.  The demands are only going to increase; therefore the infrastructure has to improve if major cloud adoption occurs.  Amazon has already begun to offer direct connect access to their datacenters.  However, it does not appear that MPLS circuits can be extended to their infrastructure.  With enough pressure this I’m sure will change.

The New Internet Backbone

MPLS networks are the original cloud service.  It used to be that an enterprise would purchase their own dedicated circuits from the telco providers.  This was costly for both the enterprise and the telco providers.  MPLS allows the telco providers to offer enterprise customers private data networks, but now the traffic will share the same data network infrastructure in a secure multi-tenant manner.  Telcos can now maximize the use of their network infrastructures and leverage every bit of their investment.

There is another customer of the MPLS network, and that is the Internet itself.  Many telco providers utilize their MPLS networks as the infrastructure to pass Internet traffic as well.  This is where the cloud ecosystem gets very interesting.  If the telco companies extend their MPLS footprint into the data centers of the major cloud providers to give enterprises direct access to those services, then they now have a new meeting place to create Internet peering arrangements with other telco companies.

Architecturally, an enterprise can now host their virtual systems with two completely different cloud providers.  They can also move all of their Internet POP infrastructures into those data centers as well.  In turn, an enterprise could collapse their datacenter footprint to a couple of cloud providers and also gain Internet access from the same providers.  This could be the preferred future topology.

With traffic destined or sourced from these cloud providers networks, telco providers will have no choice but to provide presence in these datacenters.  This will further fuel the meaning of what it will mean to be a tier 1 cloud ecosystem provider.  Time will tell, but with acquisitions like Verizon and TerreMark the future could get very interesting pretty quickly.  In the process, the shape of the Internet backbone could significantly change.

Private Cloud Ecosystem

Creating a private cloud ecosystem requires a different way of thinking, primarily for the cloud provider.  In this model, a private cloud infrastructure will be delivered by a cloud ecosystem provider.  First standardized hardware needs to be made.  Most likely, a private cloud ecosystem will be a combination of server, SAN, and virtual machine hypervisor.  The ecosystem provider will standardize their environment so that other 3rd party solutions can reside within the same infrastructure.

This infrastructure would live within the datacenter of the enterprise subscribing to the service.  The difference is that it will be fully managed by the cloud provider.  Obviously, there are security implications.  With some careful consideration those challenges could be addressed.  This would be very similar to vendor managed mainframes of the past.  Companies like VCE, NetApp, Oracle, even Rackspace and Amazon, could create standard on-premise cloud ecosystem infrastructures that cloud providers could leverage.  Globalization of computing hardware manufacturing actually makes it viable for major SaaS providers to build and deliver their own private cloud ecosystems as well.

For those enterprises that insist that their core services remain on premise, this will be a viable method of getting the best of both worlds.  I have often said that hybrid cloud infrastructures should not be the burden of the consumer to have to consider, but the provider’s task to deliver.  This I believe will be the adopted model of the largest of enterprises.  Much like all the rest, time will tell.

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