We’ve been talking to a lot of people about federation lately.
Last week, Professor Paul Watson presented federation on Arjuna’s behalf at the London CloudCamp to good reviews. Phil Wainewright picked out federation as a core them of the conference (read his blog). I’m currently in the Bay Area talking to a number of companies about this subject. It’s a hot topic.
Federation is seen as an important aspect by a number of companies including Cisco – Doug Gourlay recently outlined Cisco’s thinking around cloud and Phil Dean presented at London CloudCamp (again, see Phil Wainewright’s blog) – it was also covered at the Web 2.0 Summit although sometimes under the term ‘hybrid cloud’, a cloud that somehow spans private IT and the public clouds.
Personally, I don’t like the term ‘hybrid’ – it suggests a solution that is neither one thing nor the other. We prefer to talk about the ‘federation’ of clouds. It’s our belief that enterprises won’t present the public cloud to their internal users in its raw state, but that they’ll access the cloud-hosted services via a proxy/gateway which will represent the cloud to the users, and the enterprise to the cloud. By this means the enterprise will control access and manage the costs. This internal representation of the cloud looks to its users like a cloud – it’s opaque, and it behaves like a cloud. In fact it is a cloud – a ‘private cloud’, albeit one which doesn’t directly manage any resources itself, but a cloud nevertheless. If such a private cloud also had the means to manage internal resources and to make dynamic decisions as to whether service would be delivered by those resources or by the public cloud then we can begin to see the means by which internal IT infrastructure could over time be increasingly subsumed into the cloud.
Our Cloud computing product, Agility, is focused on delivering precisely this functionality. Agility instances can simply broker between the enterprise and one or more public clouds, or can be assigned a set of IT resources, offering users service delivered by one or the other set of resources, or by some combination of both. By this means Agility acts as an on-ramp to the cloud and allows the IT department to begin to experiment with cloud computing in a gradual, incremental way, without any need for disruption to existing service.