THE INTERCLOUD: WHAT IS IT?

By: Eric Owens

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  1. Years ago anew idea was being tossed around in the IT circles. It's called the Intercloudwhich is basically a "cloud-of-clouds". It's the cloud version of howcomputer networking first started back in the 1980’s. (This article highlights cloud adoptiontrends as well as the key benefits and challenges that many companies in the USsee when considering and adopting Hybrid IaaS and Intercloud strategies. Itexplains what the Intercloud is and some of the concerns companies haveimplementing it.)
  2. First let’s look at what Cloudcomputing can offer and the delivery models. Then we will look at theIntercloud?
    Cloudcomputing delivers infrastructure, platform, and software (application) asservices, which aremade available as subscription-based services in a pay-as-you-go model to consumers?These services in industry are respectively referred to as Infrastructure as aService (IaaS), Platform as a Service(PaaS), and Software as a Service (SaaS). Clouds aim to power the nextgeneration data centers by architecting them as a network of virtual services(hardware, database, user-interface, application Logic) so that users are able to access anddeploy applications from anywhere in the world on demand at competitive costsdepending on users QoS (Quality of Ser-vice) requirements. It offerssignificant benefits to IT companies by free-ing them from the low level taskof setting up basic hardware (servers) and soft-ware infrastructures and thusenabling more focus on innovation and creating business value for theirservices.
  3. Types of Cloud Delivery Models

    Public - Microsoft OneDrive, AppleiCloud, DropBox and others
    Private - The public does not haveaccess
    Hybrid - Mix of public and private
    Community - A community cloud in computing is acollaborative effort in which infrastructure is shared between severalorganizations from a specific community with common concerns (security, Compliance,jurisdiction, etc.), whether managed internally or by a third-party and hostedinternally or externally.
  4. Now let’s look at how the Intercloud gotcreated?
    TheIntercloud is an interconnected global "cloud of clouds" and anextension of the Internet "network of networks" on which it is based.The term was first used in the context of cloud computing in 2007 when KevinKelly opined that "eventually we'll have the Intercloud, the cloud ofclouds". It became popular in early 2009 and has also been used todescribe the datacenter of the future.

    In July 2009in Japan, an effort called the Global Inter-Cloud Technology Forum (GICTF) waslaunched with the stated goal of "We aim to promote standardization ofnetwork protocols and the interfaces through whichcloud systems interwork with each other, and to enable the provision of morereliable cloud services than those available today". As of mid-2012 theyhave over 85 member companies and havepublished proposed use cases as well as technical documents.

    In July 2010in France the First IEEE International Workshop on Cloud ComputingInteroperability and Services (InterCloud 2010) was held bringing researcherstogether and yielding many published papers. Theworkshop became an annual meeting with InterCloud 2011 held in Turkey andInterCloud 2012 held in Madrid.

    In February2011 the IEEE launched a technical standards effort called P2302 - Standard for Intercloud Interoperability and Federation (SIIF). The stated goal of theworking group is to produce a standard as such:"This standard defines topology, functions, and governance forcloud-to-cloud interoperability and federation. Topological elements includeclouds, roots, exchanges (which mediate governance betweenclouds), and gateways (which mediate data exchange between clouds). Functionalelements include name spaces, presence, messaging, resource ontologies(including standardized units of measurement),and trust infrastructure. Governance elements include registration,geo-independence, trust anchor, and potentially compliance and audit. Thestandard does not address intra-cloud (within cloud)operation, as this is cloud implementation-specific, nor does it addressproprietary hybrid-cloud implementations." As of mid-2012 they have over 50member companies and have published a WorkingDraft 1.0.

    In March2012 "Intercloud" made the Wired Magazine Jargon Watch list.

    In June 2012at the 5th International Conference on Cloud Computing (CLOUD 2012) the IEEEannounced an Intercloud Test Bed with stated goal of "The test bed will bea cloud infrastructure comprised of assets from participating universities andindustry partners. It will be used to develop and test protocols that will beformalized in the IEEE P2302 interoperability standard."

    In December2012, Cisco Systems commissioned Forrester Consulting to delve deeper into thegrowing interest in IaaS, and in the hybrid model specifically. Forrester asked69 IT decision-makers in the US, UK, France, and Germany who were interested inor already using a service provider for cloud IaaS about their cloud strategyand found that 76% are planning to implement a hybrid scenario.
    The majorityof these hybrid adopters plan to use IaaS as a complement to their on-premisesservers and storage, but a significant number will also be looking to theirservice provider for primary support, using theirin-house resources only for peak load or special needs. This will no doubtchange the dynamic of how IT professionals at all levels will work in the comingyears.

    In October2013 the IEEE announced a Global Testbed initiative. The 21 cloud and networkservice providers, cloud-enabling companies, and academic and industry researchinstitutions from the United States, theAsia-Pacific region, and Europe. The members have volunteered to provide theirown cloud implementations and expertise to a shared testbed environment. Theywill also collaborate to produce a workingprototype and open-source global Intercloud.

    As ofJanuary 2014 cisco announced Cisco Intercloud as a means through whichcustomers can lower total cost of ownership while and paving the way forinteroperable and highly secure public, private and hybrid clouds.
  5. FirmsLike Benefits of Hybrid Cloud But Are Concerned About Security And Compatibility.
  6. There are basically three types of cloudworkloads and Software distribution models currently in use with Intercloud:

    Workloads

    1.Traditional
    2.On-Premises or On-Site - your organization takes on the cost of hardware,software and support
    3. Hosted -most popular method as someone else absorbs the cost and support

    Distribution Models

    1. Saas -Software As A Service
    2. Paas -Platform As A Service
    3. Dbaas -Database As A Service
    4. Iaas - Infrastructure As A Service
  7. TheIntercloud scenario is based on the key concept that each single cloud does nothave infinite physical resources or ubiquitous geographic footprint. If a cloudsaturates the computational and storage resources of its infrastructure, or isrequested to use resources in a geography where it has no footprint, it wouldstill be able satisfy such requests for service allocations sent from itsclients. The Intercloud scenario would address such situations where each cloudwould use the computational, storage, or any kind of resource of theinfrastructures of other clouds. This is a precise analogy to how the Internetworks, in that a service provider, to which an endpoint is attached, willaccess or deliver traffic from/to source/destination addresses outside of itsservice area by using Internet routing protocols with other service providerswith whom it has a pre-arranged exchange or peering relationship. It is alsoanalogous to the way mobile operators implement roaming and inter-carrierinteroperability. Such forms of cloud exchange, peering, or roaming mayintroduce new business opportunities among cloud providers if they manage to gobeyond the theoretical framework.
  8. HOW DOES IT WORK & WHAT TECH COMPANIESARE LEADING THE WAY
    On-demand flexibility for hosting workloadson-premises or in the cloud that creates seamless integration between the datacenter and public cloud provider to handle on demand computing. For example anew Intercloud tool called a "hypervisor" was created to help managethe connectivity between clouds. Some of the biggest players are: Amazon Web Services or Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, VMware's vCloud Hybrid, Rackspace, and Citrix. There are others but that is not the prime focus of this article. Now let’s continuing looking at the Intercloud.
  9. hypervisor

    A hypervisoror virtual machine monitor (VMM) is a piece of computer software, firmware orhardware that creates and runs virtual machines. A computer on which ahypervisor is running one or more virtual machines is defined as a host machine. Eachvirtual machine is called a guest machine. Cisco for example has created anIntercloud management tool called Nexus 1000V. This tool was developedspecifically to assist companies in management the connectivity between cloudsand switches so that users have a seamless way of sharing data between clouds.
  10. CiscoInterCloud, the first of the two new products, is infrastructure softwaredesigned for hybrid cloud environments that allows organizations to combine andmove workloads, such as data or applications, across different public or private clouds. Datacenters can take advantage of Cisco's Nexus 1000V tool that will help themmanage connectivity in a world of many clouds.
  11. Cisco Nexus 1000V Intercloud

    With CiscoInterCloud, customers can build secure hybrid clouds and extend their existingdata center to public clouds as needed and on demand. Connect on-premises datacenter infrastructure to multiple serviceproviders and take advantage of flexible, pay-as-you-grow capacity. Ultimately,achieve lower costs and faster delivery of resources. That means you can more securelyand seamlessly burst capacity to handle increased demands, rapidly provisionnew applications, improve disaster recovery, and migrate workloads withconfidence. Do all of that without compromising security and control.
  12. Features and Capabilities
    Cisco InterCloud is a highly secure, open andflexible solution that enables complete freedom in workload placement as perbusiness needs. It ensures the same network security, quality of service (QoS),and access control policies in public cloud previously enforced in the datacenter. And as capacity is added, there is no demarcation between internalcloud and external cloud.
  13. Key features include:
    •Self-serviceconsumption of hybrid resources with end-user and IT portals
    •Workloadprovisioning and bi-directional migration across on-premises and cloudresources
    •End-to-endsecurity with consistent policy enforcement across the hybrid cloud
    •A singlepoint of management and control for physical and virtual workloads acrossmultiple private and public clouds
    •A choice of cloud providers and hypervisors
  14. So how does this type of solution reallywork?
    It is builtaround a switching gateway around the edge of your private cloud that providesa highly secured link to your cloud provider. The gateway at both ends encryptsthe traffic for a more secured communicationchannel between the two sites. This provides companies with a safe, highlysecure, isolated environment using their own virtual network overlay andexisting infrastructure. This allows companies like Cisco to embrace Amazon andMicrosoft's cloud solutions to offers increased functionality for movingworkloads between public clouds.
  15. Conclusions and Future Directions

    Developmentof fundamental techniques and software systems that integrate distributedclouds in a federated fashion is critical to enabling composition anddeployment of elastic application services. I believe thatoutcomes of this research vision will make significant scientific advancementin understanding the theoretical and practical problems of engineering servicesfor federated environments. The resulting framework facilitates the federatedmanagement of system components and protects customers with guaranteed qualityof services in large, federated and highly dynamic environments. The differentcomponents of the proposed framework offer powerful capabilities to addressboth services and resources management, but their end-to-end combination aimsto dramatically improve the effective usage, management, and administration of Cloudsystems. This will provide enhanced degrees of scalability, flexibility, andsimplicity for management and delivery of services in federation of clouds.

    The businesspotential of Cloud computing is recognized by several market re-search firmsincluding IDC, which reports that worldwide spending on Cloud ser-vices willgrow from $16 billion by 2008 to $42 billion in2012. Furthermore, many applications making use of these utility-orientedcomputing systems such as clouds emerge simply as catalysts or market makersthat bring buyers and sellers together.

    By 2016,over 3 billion connected users will drive and increase of more than 8x inmobile data traffic compared to 2012! By 2020, there will be over 30 billionconnected devices. Moreover, information is growing at2x per year from the massive growth in structured data (traditional databases)and unstructured data (e-mail, web content, videos, social media).

    IT is underpressure to become much more agile and efficient, while turning this increasingvariety and volume of data into actionable insights. At the same time, datacenters are often pushed to capacity, while ITresources and cost are constrained. Plus, there is a need to continuallyenhance security to keep ahead of increasingly sophisticated hackers. Thesechallenges are driving the need for IT to quickly evolvetoward a more efficient, automated, and secure infrastructure.

    Years from now we may even see a self-awareCloud.
  16. Eric has 28 years of IT industry hands-on expertise and has worked for fortune 100 companies. He is a graduate of Kentucky Polytechnic Institute in Computer Science in 1989. As an Analyst, Eric enjoys writing articles about technology and cloud computing. Eric has worked as an online freelance web designer and a lead web developer for a large plastics manufacturer in Seattle. He holds certifications in HTML, CSS, JavaScript, MCP, A+ and is currently working on his CCP (Cloud Computing Professional) certification.
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