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Federated cloud strategies: What CIOs need to know

Patricia Brown | Nov. 14, 2011
In many ways the concept of federated cloud is ironic.

CIOs, in short, are facing a mixed bag of cloud environments that need to be integrated and managed to ensure operational efficiency, strong security and good governance. That's where federated cloud comes in. Federated cloud frameworks allow for the deployment and integrated management of multiple external and internal cloud computing services.

Three basic types of connections need to be made:

Public cloud-to-private cloud

Private cloud-to-private cloud

Public cloud to public cloud

Public Cloud-to-Private Cloud Integration

One of the key initial challenges CIOs face is getting a handle on exactly how much public cloud activity is happening. In many instances, the first time the IT organization gets a clue that an external service is being used is when a call comes in to address a problem with a cloud provider.

Once they are identified, IT leaders can reach out to determine why the business units bypassed internal resources in favor of cloud providers, then define a path forward that makes sense for both end users and IT. Many CIOs find internal options to public cloud providers are not adequate. This leaves IT with the option of resisting end user demand for the service or figuring out how to responsibly enable business units to access these services in a more secure and compliant manner.

If, as is increasingly the case, companies select the latter option, then the IT organization can serve as a central clearinghouse of public cloud providers to the enterprise. It becomes the responsibility of the CIO to create processes and mechanisms that end users can employ to purchase third party services in a risk-adjusted and appropriately supervised manner. The key responsibility of IT is to ensure that proper data controls are in place. Also important is ensuring that enterprise data pushed to a public cloud provider can be brought back in to the enterprise quickly and securely if need be.

Additionally, the IT organization can explore opportunities to establish integration points between public cloud applications and internal assets using application programming interfaces.

Private Cloud-to-Private Cloud Integration

Most organizations that move forward with private cloud initiatives do so at a departmental level. In many cases, cloud efforts build on virtualization initiatives that consolidate data center investments and optimize resource utilization. As a result, most Fortune 1000 companies have multiple private cloud environments in different stages of maturity.

There is a growing consensus that the key to managing internal private cloud sprawl revolves around the adoption and disciplined deployment of IT Service Management principles. This provides a common approach to designing web-based cloud services provisioning capabilities across the enterprise. It will also go a long way toward facilitating internal cloud integration.

Public Cloud-to-Public Cloud Integration

 

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