Cloud computing is the most overhyped, misunderstood computing trend since “Web 2.0.” In recent polling it’s also the #2 CIO initiative for 2010, with virtualization being #1. Like any popular IT fixall buzzword, people seem to ignore the prerequisites required for a successful implementation.
Cloud computing is really just an evolution of virtualization. Like virtualization, there are prerequisites that are required for a successful implementation. In the case of virtualization, a sound SAN strategy is needed. Having a hypervisor utilizing one local disk controller among 10-20 virtual machines is a recipe for disaster.
In the case of the cloud, whether it’s internal or external, full stack OS provisioning is a requirement for any true cloud computing initiative. What is full stack OS provisioning? It’s the ability to provision a production ready server (physical, virtual, or cloud) without requiring any manual software configuration handoffs before it is production ready.
When you look at most organizations, there is generally a large gap from the time a server is requested till the time that server is ready for business. Base OS installation is generally not the problem; it’s everything that goes on after the operating system is laid down: monitoring, backup, middleware, applications, and application configurations. Each one of those items usually requires human handoffs and manual configurations in order to finally get a server to a business ready state.
If your server OS provisioning process is not producing business ready compute nodes, then any cloud initiative is going to suffer from the same problems your organization already experiences with regular servers. Cloud computing and virtualization can rapidly speed up the ability to provision new compute nodes, but its only as fast as your provisioning process.