Thursday, 20 October 2011

Federated Clouds

Imagine the ability to seamlessly manage independent resources on multiple cloud providers with a single interface.  There are some immediate benefits to consider: avoiding vendor lock-in, migration of a resource from one cloud to another, replication of data ...

You might be excused for thinking it's a little ambitious but a colleague on the Contrail project drew my attention to this article on Cloud Brokering.  As Lorenzo said, you don't have to pay for the full article to get the jist but it seems from a rudimentary search that there are a number of commercial products already ventured into this area:

Federating clouds is a core objective of Contrail, and from what I heard at the Internet of Services meeting I attended last month, there's plenty of research interest in this topic.  Picking out some points raised in the discussions (with some of my own thoughts mixed in):
  • the importance of federating clouds for the European model.  Cloud infrastructures deployed in smaller member states can't match the resources available to the large US enterprises but if those smaller infrastructures are joined in a federation their resources can be pooled to make something greater.
  • Standards are essential for federated clouds to succeed (an obvious point really) but that existing standards such as OVF and OCCI provide incomplete coverage of what is needed across the spectrum of cloud architecture related concerns.
  • The problem of funding and continuity of work, general to many research efforts but cloud technology by its nature surely needs a long term strategy for it to flourish. 
  • The need for longer term research goals with 10-15 year gestation, short-term goals will be absorbed by commercial companies.  There's a danger of simply following rather than leading.
So on the last point then, it's all right to be ambitious ;)

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