Welcome!

Government Cloud Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Dana Gardner, Gopala Krishna Behara

Related Topics: @CloudExpo

@CloudExpo: Article

The Five Pillars of Cloud Computing

Cloud computing requires a dynamic computing infrastructure - there are four other pillars, too

Cloud computing is getting tons of press these days. Everyone has a different perspective and understanding of the technology, and there are myriad variations on the definition of the cloud- William Fellows and John Barr at the 451 Group define cloud computing as the intersection of grid, virtualization, SaaS, and utility computing models. James Staten of Forrester Research describes it as a pool of abstracted, highly scalable, and managed compute infrastructure capable of hosting end-customer applications and billed by consumption. Let's take it a step further and examine the core principles, or pillars, that uniquely define cloud computing.

Pillar 1: Dynamic Computing Infrastructure
Cloud computing requires a dynamic computing infrastructure. The foundation for the dynamic infrastructure is a standardized, scalable, and secure physical infrastructure. There should be levels of redundancy to ensure high levels of availability, but mostly it must be easy to extend as usage growth demands it, without requiring architecture rework. Next, it must be virtualized. Today, virtualized environments leverage server virtualization (typically from VMware, Microsoft, or Xen) as the basis for running services. These services need to be easily provisioned and de-provisioned via software automation. These service workloads need to be moved from one physical server to another as capacity demands increase or decrease. Finally, this infrastructure should be highly utilized, whether provided by an external cloud provider or an internal IT department. The infrastructure must deliver business value over and above the investment.

A dynamic computing infrastructure is critical to effectively supporting the elastic nature of service provisioning and de-provisioning as requested by users while maintaining high levels of reliability and security. The consolidation provided by virtualization, coupled with provisioning automation, creates a high level of utilization and reuse, ultimately yielding a very effective use of capital equipment

Pillar 2: IT Service-Centric Approach
Cloud computing is IT (or business) service-centric. This is in stark contrast to more traditional system- or server- centric models. In most cases, users of the cloud generally want to run some business service or application for a specific, timely purpose; they don't want to get bogged down in the system and network administration of the environment. They would prefer to quickly and easily access a dedicated instance of an application or service. By abstracting away the server-centric view of the infrastructure, system users can easily access powerful pre-defined computing environments designed specifically around their service.

An IT Service Centric approach enables user adoption and business agility - the easier and faster a user can perform an administrative task the more expedient the business moves, reducing costs or driving revenue.

Pillar 3: Self-Service Based Usage Model
Interacting with the cloud requires some level of user self-service. Best of breed self-service provides users the ability to upload, build, deploy, schedule, manage, and report on their business services on demand. Self-service cloud offerings must provide easy-to-use, intuitive user interfaces that equip users to productively manage the service delivery lifecycle.

The benefit of self service from the users' perspective is a level of empowerment and independence that yields significant business agility. One benefit often overlooked from the service provider's or IT team's perspective is that the more self service that can be delegated to users, the less administrative involvement is necessary. This saves time and money and allows administrative staff to focus on more strategic, high-valued responsibilities.

Pillar 4: Minimally or Self-Managed Platform
In order for an IT team or a service provider to efficiently provide a cloud for its constituents, they must leverage a technology platform that is self managed. Best-of-breed clouds enable self-management via software automation, leveraging the following capabilities:

  • A provisioning engine for deploying services and tearing them down recovering resources for high levels of reuse
  • Mechanisms for scheduling and reserving resource capacity
  • Capabilities for configuring, managing, and reporting to ensure resources can be allocated and reallocated to multiple groups of users
  • Tools for controlling access to resources and policies for how resources can be used or operations can be performed

All of these capabilities enable business agility while simultaneously enacting critical and necessary administrative control. This balance of control and delegation maintains security and uptime, minimizes the level of IT administrative effort, and keeps operating expenses low, freeing up resources to focus on higher value projects.

Pillar 5: Consumption-Based Billing
Finally, cloud computing is usage-driven. Consumers pay for only what resources they use and therefore are charged or billed on a consumption-based model. Cloud computing platforms must provide mechanisms to capture usage information that enables chargeback reporting and/or integration with billing systems.

The value here from a user's perspective is the ability for them to pay only for the resources they use, ultimately helping them keep their costs down. From a provider's perspective, it allows them to track usage for charge back and billing purposes.

In summary, all of these five pillars are necessary in producing an enterprise private cloud capable of achieving compelling business value which includes savings on capital equipment and operating costs, reduced support costs, and significantly increased business agility. All of these enable corporations to improve their profit margins and competitiveness in the markets they serve.

More Stories By Dave Malcolm

Dave Malcolm is Vice President & Chief Technologist for Virtualization and Cloud at Quest. With more than 20 years of experience in high tech and enterprise software development, he drives product and technology strategy. Most recently, Malcolm served as the CTO of Surgient, where he led the development team responsible for the creation, delivery, and implementation of the enterprise-class Cloud Automation Platform. With a keen focus on both innovation and practical application, Malcolm and his team have developed a robust infrastructure-as-a-service cloud automation platform and multiple granted cloud computing patents.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


IoT & Smart Cities Stories
Dion Hinchcliffe is an internationally recognized digital expert, bestselling book author, frequent keynote speaker, analyst, futurist, and transformation expert based in Washington, DC. He is currently Chief Strategy Officer at the industry-leading digital strategy and online community solutions firm, 7Summits.
Digital Transformation is much more than a buzzword. The radical shift to digital mechanisms for almost every process is evident across all industries and verticals. This is often especially true in financial services, where the legacy environment is many times unable to keep up with the rapidly shifting demands of the consumer. The constant pressure to provide complete, omnichannel delivery of customer-facing solutions to meet both regulatory and customer demands is putting enormous pressure on...
IoT is rapidly becoming mainstream as more and more investments are made into the platforms and technology. As this movement continues to expand and gain momentum it creates a massive wall of noise that can be difficult to sift through. Unfortunately, this inevitably makes IoT less approachable for people to get started with and can hamper efforts to integrate this key technology into your own portfolio. There are so many connected products already in place today with many hundreds more on the h...
The standardization of container runtimes and images has sparked the creation of an almost overwhelming number of new open source projects that build on and otherwise work with these specifications. Of course, there's Kubernetes, which orchestrates and manages collections of containers. It was one of the first and best-known examples of projects that make containers truly useful for production use. However, more recently, the container ecosystem has truly exploded. A service mesh like Istio addr...
Digital Transformation: Preparing Cloud & IoT Security for the Age of Artificial Intelligence. As automation and artificial intelligence (AI) power solution development and delivery, many businesses need to build backend cloud capabilities. Well-poised organizations, marketing smart devices with AI and BlockChain capabilities prepare to refine compliance and regulatory capabilities in 2018. Volumes of health, financial, technical and privacy data, along with tightening compliance requirements by...
Charles Araujo is an industry analyst, internationally recognized authority on the Digital Enterprise and author of The Quantum Age of IT: Why Everything You Know About IT is About to Change. As Principal Analyst with Intellyx, he writes, speaks and advises organizations on how to navigate through this time of disruption. He is also the founder of The Institute for Digital Transformation and a sought after keynote speaker. He has been a regular contributor to both InformationWeek and CIO Insight...
Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life settlement products to hedge funds and investment banks. After, he co-founded a revenue cycle management company where he learned about Bitcoin and eventually Ethereal. Andrew's role at ConsenSys Enterprise is a mul...
To Really Work for Enterprises, MultiCloud Adoption Requires Far Better and Inclusive Cloud Monitoring and Cost Management … But How? Overwhelmingly, even as enterprises have adopted cloud computing and are expanding to multi-cloud computing, IT leaders remain concerned about how to monitor, manage and control costs across hybrid and multi-cloud deployments. It’s clear that traditional IT monitoring and management approaches, designed after all for on-premises data centers, are falling short in ...
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at D...
Dynatrace is an application performance management software company with products for the information technology departments and digital business owners of medium and large businesses. Building the Future of Monitoring with Artificial Intelligence. Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more busine...