A Cloud Federation means more power and stability
Small businesses are ready to jump into cloud computing, but a lack of inclusiveness or cohesiveness across multiple services and providers seems to be preventing them from taking the final plunge cloud computing stability
When most of us go to the store to buy an adapter or power supply for any one of our hundred+ electronic devices the tendency is to go for the “universal” component. This is to say that when you buy a universal adapter, you know that it’s going to be compatible with your device as well as a host of others. Likewise, when we buy computing devices (laptops, tablets, smartphones, PC’s, Mac’s, etc…) we often base our choices on the compatibility, versatility and connectivity of its included operating system(s). After all, who wants to buy a computer that can’t run or take advantage of our favorite software, apps, or services? In a very similar fashion, concerns over universality and inclusiveness are what most cloud computing providers are dealing with right now.
The problem with most current cloud computing services and providers is that there is no guide or guarantee that any of their products or software will work with that of others on the market. If you sign on for an extended and fully managed cloud service, can you still add individual cloud elements as you find / encounter them? Currently, the ability for multiple cloud services to interoperate is somewhat limited. This is to say that there is no guarantee that any individual service from one cloud provider will work with that of another; but that may be changing.
A Cloud federation is essentially the best solution for dealing with cross-functionality issues. What is a cloud federation, you ask? In a nutshell, a cloud federation is a union between multiple cloud service providers. Through a federation, providers can share workloads, services, environments, etc…in an effort to create a more extensive, balanced and versatile experience for customers / users. For example, if there are two separate services (which are both great for your business) and they are only available from independent providers, a cloud federation allows you to bring them together in the same environment, perhaps even utilizing them together in some unexpected manner.
How does a cloud federation agreement work?
Currently, cloud federation agreements allow one provider to sell their services (often at wholesale prices) to other providers in the hopes that they will package them along with some of their products. This arrangement actually benefits both providers as:
- One is generating direct and dependable sales of their services (not to mention advertising)
- And the other is adding substantial (new) benefits to their arsenal and utilizing underused computing assets which they may have on hand already.
There is also another proposed type of cloud federation in the works which is much more comprehensive, it’s currently being referred to as the “Intercloud”. Many individuals want to see some form of universal cloud federation to take effect which would allow virtually anyone, not just providers, to combine multiple services from disparate providers in a more simple and user-friendly manner. The Intercloud would create standards and a universal platform upon which individuals could build their own clouds; somewhat similar to how html works in relation to the internet, for instance.
Just imagine being able to quickly and easily pick and choose cloud services at whim and instantly package and deploy them for your own purposes and those of your business, all without having to worry about compatibility issues. If such a system were indeed instituted it would most likely lead to the formation of increased specialization. In other words, you would see more cloud providers focusing on specific areas like security or storage and being able to more easily share their findings, research and products to everyone. The end result of all this sharing is likely to be improvements all across the board; meaning, even more secure and stable cloud computing.
When will we see a defined “Intercloud” emerge? It’s tough to say, some experts see the idea of the Intercloud taking hold sooner, others, much later. The biggest fear, ironically, is that of standardization. It has been suggested that implementing too many standards during such an early stage in the development of cloud computing as a whole might limit its growth, so to speak. Regardless of when it happens, it is clear that some form of advanced and integrated cloud federation is already being laid out and virtually every cloud provider out there is eager to get with the program.
Possibly one of the most important questions (with regards to businesses and cloud computing) is; have the proper educational preparations been made? While there’s no doubt that cloud computing offers businesses distinct advantages, how many organizations can honestly say that their personnel truly understand the technology and infrastructure behind it? This isn’t really a major issue however, as cloud computing foundation training and certification programs are readily available, inexpensive, and thoroughly enlightening. Likewise, these e-learning programs for cloud computing can be accessed via the internet, some even offer distinctly beneficial materials designed to prepare individuals for certification tests.
A cloud federation or Intercloud is good news for everyone. Cloud providers will be able to put their products in front of a larger customer base and offer their users more advanced and dependable packages. Customers and cloud users will reap the benefits of having more services to choose from and combine under a federated cloud as well. Through cloud federations, we will see cloud computing as a whole become a more stable and powerful enterprise, which will benefit us all in the long run.