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• Cloud Infrastructure Deployment Within the Enterprise – Key Considerations

Blog by Francis Lee, CTO, 1cloudstar pte ltd.

Cloud Infrastructure Deployment Within the Enterprise – Key Considerations

We have all read the literature about how Cloud-Computing will disrupt the massive traditional datacenter business as we know it, and how the Enterprise will start to deploy more of their applications in a hybrid (leveraging both on-site or datacenter infrastructure and on-demand cloud computing platforms)  or pure Public Cloud (utility) model. Well, it looks like this movement is starting to happen sooner, and not just for the “Cloud Ready” web facing workloads.

In the mist (pun-intended) of these writings, there stands the 800-pound gorilla of Public-Cloud IaaS, Amazon Web Services or AWS to those in the know (Gartner reports that AWS is between 5x and 10x larger than a dozen of its top competitors combined in the market).

But is AWS living up to its name as the silver-lining to Enterprise-Cloud endeavors?

The AWS Value Proposition:

AWS has been marketing its key business benefits; low or zero upfront cost, low on-going cost, rapid agility/scalability etc. These benefits have significant commercial and competitive benefits for Enterprises. With this type of utility compute model, those idle-servers (e.g. web-servers, email-servers, lumpy application servers for the likes of payroll, analytics processes and the like) can be shut-down, and restarted next business day, instead of having them turned on when no one is around to use them (much like how air-conditioning in smart-buildings turn off after office hours). This utility model has been shown to develop with the commoditization of services over the centuries – electricity and other power services being a prime example. The Internet, massive bandwidth capacity and computer chip and storage revolutions will ensure this law consistently moves through the compute infrastructure industry.

Truth Be Told based on our First Hand Experience

1cloudstar has designed & implemented solutions using AWS technologies for some of the largest listed companies in Asia, working with Enterprise Clients who are grappling with how to take advantage of the Cloud – or what I like to describe more accurately as “private and secure on-demand computing” 

All the benefits that born-in-the-Cloud/Internet companies (in many cases multi-Billion dollar companies) have achieved with AWS, are available, at least partially for large Enterprises today. But it is important for Enterprises with years of legacy IT infrastructure, and quite frankly years of cultural and political legacy (I didn’t use the word “baggage ) to get their ducks in a row to traverse all these legacy issues and migrate to the Cloud in a way which satisfies key stakeholders. This is not easy, but it is achievable.

However there are some short term tactical issues that need to be addressed

While AWS provides an ever improving GUI Management Console that allows you to control all your IT Assets in the Cloud, there is no timer/scheduler utility to automatically shut-down or restart your servers at appointed times.  You can do so manually via the Management Console, but that means you need IT Support Staff that operates into the wee-hours of the night/morning just to stop and restart your servers.

Thankfully, everything is an API in AWS.  And with a bit of automation magic via scripting (Python, Powershell, pick your poison), together with a workflow process engine or scheduler, the above shutdown/restart of servers, un-mounting drives or running VSS Backup before EBS Snapshots can be orchestrated and automated. At 1cloudstar we

AWS Cloud Caveats for the Enterprise to Consider

From what we have seen, most large Enterprises will still need additional orchestration and automation to make things complete, given complex Infra environments.  

Some of our Enterprise clients also mandate that resource procurement must comply to specific IT/business processes and standards (e.g. ITIL), as well as internal corporate and security governance relating to IT Resource Management within the Enterprise. This may require associating AWS EC2 creation for instance, with the existing Enterprise Provisioning System and then updating the Enterprise CMDB etc – these types of issues should be taken into account when an Enterprise makes its (mainstream) move into the Cloud.

Unfortunately, most Enterprise IT Administrators aren’t skilled in these domains, least alone scripting/programming and software integration skills.  

Enterprise IT Reality

AWS IaaS is a great technology platform with close to unlimited virtual resources, BUT you do need skilled resources or third party help to mold these sorts of platforms seamlessly into your business.  This requires a holistic approach that incorporates skillsets around application integration, understanding of Enterprise processes, legacy IT, cultural issues, IT governance and Security framework etc

And therein lies the current AWS bane to Enterprise adoption.  Moving to the Cloud, with all its (proven) benefits, can be more complicated in a large Enterprise environment. At 1cloudstar we have the chops to help you on this journey – the beautiful thing about the Cloud is that we can start with baby steps – small wins. Stay tuned for more specific blogs on these first steps…