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Interview: Deconstructing cloud computing

Zafar Anjum | June 8, 2010
Mark Settle, CIO, BMC Software, discusses the real challenges CIOs face in implementing cloud computing.

There are two key challenges in leveraging public cloud resources. The first is in the management arena. You need to develop operational procedures for procuring public cloud resources;  you need to impose your standard authentication and authorisation procedures on individuals attempting to access those resources; you need to monitor their performance to ensure that they are supporting the SLAs you have established with your internal business clients; you need to monitor their utilisation to ensure you arent paying for something that isnt being used; etc. You really have to manage the public resources in the same way you manage your internal resources.  

The second challenge is financial. You need to figure out when it is more cost-effective to buy additional resources for your internal cloud using your capital budget versus buying access to public cloud resources on a temporary basis with your operating budget. Depending upon the pricing youve negotiated and your scenarios for using the public cloud, there will be a cross-over point where it is more effective to buy more equipment for your private cloud than procuring temporary access to resources in the public clouds. You obviously need to figure out where that cross-over point really is!

One of the downsides of cloud computing is that it lacks standards about data handling and security practices. Do you agree? Are there workarounds?

There are definitely workarounds.  There are a variety of encryption techniques and aliasing procedures that can be used to camouflage sensitive data being transmitted to the public cloud.

You may recall that most IT organisations had similar concerns regarding the initial use of software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications. However, over the past three years, there has been widespread adoption of SaaS tools to support critical and non-critical business functions in many different companies. I suspect a similar evolution will occur with the infrastructure-as-a-service capabilities being delivered by the public cloud providers private companies and public organisations will become increasingly comfortable moving sensitive data in and out of the public clouds over the next two to three years.

What is BMC doing with regard to cloud computing?

BMC has been very aggressive both internally and externally in advancing its cloud computing capabilities. We recently announced a set of enhancements to our standard products that we refer to as Cloud Lifecycle Management (CLM).  CLM extends the capabilities of BMCs conventional product offerings to specifically address the management issues that are encountered in hybrid (private + public) cloud architectures. Internally, 60 per cent of the servers used to support our product development activities consist of virtual machines, and we have achieved significant reductions in data centre floor space and power consumption through virtualisation.  We have also established procedures for accessing public cloud resources for short bursts of time to support some of our product testing activities. We are employing cloud computing concepts on a routine basis to support critical software development programmes within BMC.

 

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