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Federated Clouds: The Clouds of the Future?


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November 01, 2012

Federated Clouds: The Clouds of the Future?

By Erin Harrison, Executive Editor, Cloud Computing

Industry leaders recently discussed the current state of cloud computing adoption as well as the potential for federated cloud management software and the implication it holds not only for customers but for service providers as well.

There are two key areas of acceptance where service providers need to improve, according to OnApp CEO Ditlev Bredahl 

“One is, service providers need to accept that the people that are buying infrastructure from them might be people they don’t know... because there is a mediator in the middle, they might actually hand over a server to someone who they have never met,” Bredahl said in a recent OnApp blog post.

Secondly, service providers may believe this is already the case, however, but that’s not the case.

He added, “And you may think, if you have thousands of servers in your data center, that's already the situation. But I’ve been running hosting companies for many years, and we always had a pretty good idea what's going on in the data centers.”

Another trend they discussed is the concept of federated clouds, which is the idea that customers can span different clouds with their computing and data.

“In the federated cloud, cloud providers can buy capacity through a central marketplace in order to build global services for their customers,” according to OnApp’s Steve Fenton. “The marketplace is populated by other cloud providers looking to sell their capacity, and by subscribing to the locations they have datacenters in, you can make their remote infrastructure available to your local users.”

There are benefits of the federated cloud for both service providers and end-users, Fenton explained. For providers, they can begin to offer truly “global” cloud service and compete with the likes of Amazon Web Services (News - Alert).

In addition, “It’s good news for end-users, too. They can do business with their local federation member, and pick the provider with whatever pricing/resource package/SLA or expertise suits them, and still get access to as much global cloud capacity as they need,” Fenton commented.

With all of these clouds working together, the cloud management issue comes into focus. Enter the federation “mothership.”

“If you build a proper federation, and you have one platform above it – internally we call it the mothership,” explained Bredahl. “The mothership is the point of contact for the services that are being deployed.”

According to Bredahl, the mothership should be someone outside of the infrastructure, which should sit below. All the data centers, the service providers and telcos part of the federation should have a single point of contact above them, and then the mothership should deal with the failover, which is where service level agreements (SLAs) come in.

“If built properly the federation actually helps you that way, because you’re not that reliant on a single data center’s performance any more. Because you have this abstraction layer, the mothership – you have this abstraction layer between the infrastructure and the services deployed on it.”

In related news, TMCnet recently covered OnApp’s success with its cloud-based CDN platform. With deployments in more than 109 locations in 35 countries, OnApp CDN is helping more and more service providers add value to their clouds by significantly enhancing Web performance for their clients.

In only a nine-month period,OnApp CDN has almost three times as many locations as Amazon CloudFront, and is nearly as big as, a company which has been in the space for more than 12 years.

Edited by Jamie Epstein

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