�� Key Cloud Strategies: First Steps

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Contact John Wyzalek editor of IT Performance Improvement.

 

Key Cloud Strategies: First Steps

Brian J.S. Chee and Curtis Franklin, Jr.

When any organization is looking at adopting a new technology, success comes from proper planning, and clouds aren t an exception to this oft-ignored rule. The temptation is to do a physical-to-virtual migration just by "jumping into the deep end of the pool." Here the fallacy is that the virtualized server can t be that much different from a physical server. Well, yes and no: It can feel the same, but there are some differences that could potentially bite you. Here are a few that we've stumbled across:

  • Licensing. How does your software vendor count CPUs? The VM might only have a single CPU assigned to it, but that blade might have something in the range of a half-dozen cores. Since virtualization is still new, the end-user license agreement (EULA) might not have a clause to accommodate the VM having only a single core assigned to it.
  • Licensing 2. Does your software license even allow you to run it under a virtualized environment? If so, does the EULA allow you to run it on a single physical server or a single server instance? If it is by physical server, make sure the vendor hasn't updated its EULA, because many are catching on that they've left loopholes open that may allow users to run multiple copies of their software as long as all the virtual machines are all on a single piece of hardware.
  • License dongles:. Some pieces of software require a nice little USB dongle to be present in order for them to run. The unfortunate fact is that not all those license dongles can be replaced by a license server, and for those you'll need to get a USB network server such as the USB Anywhere networked USB hub by Digi.
  • Licensing servers. You really need to be careful in adding up the virtual machines you'll have to run. In order to accommodate some licensing schemes, you might end up setting up yet another VM just to handle licensing. Even the Microsoft Windows Server 2008 Data Center edition might need one if you have certain types of bulk license agreements in place. (Windows 2008 Data Center edition seems to need an activation server for more than 25 machines)
  • Not every OS will run under a virtualized environment, and not every release will either. We ran into a case where version 4.x of Debian Linux ran just fine under Microsoft Virtual Server 2005, but 5.x didn't. Since it isn't officially supported as a guest operating system, this customer ended up having to move to CentOS instead of Debian.
  • Server throughput. This is a massive "gotcha," and the blog-o-sphere has been buzzing like mad about how VMs are sooo much slower because of those extra layers of abstraction. While not always the case, the truth is that you might find yourself doing a bunch more tuning on the virtual server than you did on the standalone. While not necessarily bad, it is a new line item in your project timeline. Xen keeps bragging that it's the fastest VM system around, but to date we've not seen any hard facts to support this. Considering the lack of real reviews in the trade press, we're not sure how long we're going to have to wait for quantitative VM speed comparisons.

So far, we've been talking about what clouds can and can't do (yet), and how to codify expectations in service-level agreements. We've also talked about the pressures that are exerted on cloud implementations by security and regulatory compliance issues. We haven't yet dealt with questions of planning horizons and how the current and most likely future versions of cloud infrastructure might work within realistic planning ranges. Cloud computing is no different than any other IT technology in many important ways that we've already discussed, and the need for proper planning is certainly a key arena in which there is no difference.

As with any strategic IT technology, clouds are tools that may or may not fit your needs. As with any new strategic technology, clouds should be thought of in both the long and short terms, and how the migration to the new technology will affect your long-term and short-term operational costs in relationship to the perceived return on investment. The real key is to ask the same question at every step along the way: "Does this really make sense for our organization?"♦

Read more IT Process Improvement

This article is an excerpt from:

Cloud Computing: Technologies and Strategies of the Ubiquitous Data Center

This book looks at cloud computing from an IT manager s perspective. It answers basic as well as strategic questions from both a business and a technical perspective so that you can confidently engage both IT and financial assets in making your organization techno- savvy, efficient, and competitive.

About the Authors

Brian J. S. Chee is one of the first 10 Certified Netware Instructors outside of Novell, Inc. Brian has seen networking evolve from the ground up having the viewpoints of manufacturer, distributor, reseller, and computer scientist. He worked in the latter role at the U.S. General Service Administration Office of Information Security (GSA-OIS), and now at the University of Hawaii School of Ocean and Earth Sciences and Technology (SOEST) as a researcher. As a Senior Contributing Editor to InfoWorld and a long-time member of the Interop NOC team, Brian has a unique insight into networking trends and the emergence of new technology.

Curtis Franklin, Jr., has been writing about technologies and products in computing and networking since the early 1980s. A Senior Writer at NetWitness, he also contributes to a number of technology-industry publications including InfoWorld, Dark Reading, and ITWorld.com on subjects ranging from mobile enterprise computing to enterprise security and wireless networking. He is also online community manager for the Interop conference. Curtis is the author of hundreds of magazine articles, the co-author of three books, and has been a frequent speaker at computer and networking industry conferences across North America and Europe. When he's not writing, Curt is a painter, photographer, cook, and multi-instrumentalist musician, and is active in amateur radio (KG4GWA), scuba diving, and the Florida Master Naturalist program