Federation: The future of cloud


There was much discussion last month about predicting the future, as October 21 2015 marked the futuristic date that Marty McFly visited in the second Back to the Future movie. So it’s appropriate that many in the IT community are taking out their hoverboards and trying to predict the future of cloud computing as well.

Some see the future of cloud computing as one big public cloud.  Others believe that enterprises will ultimately build a single large cloud to host all their corporate services. This is, of course, because the benefit of cloud computing is dependent on large – very large – scale infrastructure, which provides administrators and service administrators and consumers the ability for ease of deployment, self service, elasticity, resource pooling and economies of scale. However, as cloud continues to evolve – so do the services being offered.

Cloud Services & Hybrid Clouds

Services are now able to reach a wider range of consumers, partners, competitors and public audiences. It is also clear that storage, compute power, streaming, analytics and other advanced services are best served when they are in an environment tailored for the proficiency of that service. 

One method of addressing the need of these service environments is through the advent of hybrid clouds. Hybrid clouds, by definition, are composed of multiple distinct cloud infrastructures connected in a manner that enables services and data access across the combined infrastructure.  The intent is to leverage the additional benefits that hybrid cloud offers without disrupting the traditional cloud benefits.  While hybrid cloud benefits come through the ability to distribute the work stream, the goal is to continue to realize the ability for managing peaks in demand, to quickly make services available and capitalize on new business opportunities.

While the hybrid cloud has a variety of benefits, the expansion of cloud into a hybrid model may also increase risk to an enterprise through data exposure and violation of corporate policy.  The question then becomes, How do we garner the additive benefits of hybrid cloud while minimizing risks?  The answer is through Federation.

The Solution: Federation

Federation creates a hybrid cloud environment with an increased focus on maintaining the integrity of corporate policies and data integrity. Think of federation as a pool of clouds connected through a channel of gateways; gateways which can be used to optimize a cloud for a service or set of specific services. Such gateways can be used to segment service audiences or to limit access to specific data sets. In essence, federation has the ability for enterprises to service their audiences with economy of scale without exposing critical applications or vital data through weak policies or vulnerabilities.

Many would raise the question: if Federation creates multiples of clouds, doesn’t that mean cloud benefits are diminished?  I believe the answer is no, due to the fact that a fundamental change has transformed enterprises through the original adoption of cloud computing, namely the creation of a flexible environment able to adapt rapidly to changing needs based on policy and automation.

We can’t time travel like the movies or even predict the future with 100 percent accuracy but hybrid cloud is well on its way, and federation is what the preferred cloud model will be. Through a federated model, hybrid cloud adoption will dramatically accelerate. A future comprised of many clouds simply makes sense – and Federation casts a true vision of global computing.

This story, "Federation: The future of cloud" was originally published by ITworld.

Download the CIO October 2016 Digital Magazine
View Comments
Join the discussion
Be the first to comment on this article. Our Commenting Policies