One of the great things about the cloud computing industry is that it never stops pushing the envelope. Barely does the idea of hybrid clouds (a combination of private and public clouds working together as a cohesive infrastructure) begin to take seed, then the concept of building multi-cloud application environments for the ultimate in uptime and service delivery assurance appears.
Forrester Research says “dynamic workload shifting between clouds is the resiliency panacea” (Quick Take: Cloud to Cloud Resiliency, February 24, 2014). This highly respected analyst firm believes that 2014 will be a year of significant progress in making the dream of instant workload migration from one cloud instance to any other with no downtime come true. In this “Age of the Customer,” there can be little tolerance for downtime and performance issues, the firm cautions.
At the moment, there are many challenges to be overcome, platforms and tools to be developed, and approaches to application design to be adopted before the full potential of instant workload migration can be realized and market-ready. A few power users of the cloud are showing the way by creating what are essentially customized prototypes matched to their specific needs.
Among the biggest challenges are the application workloads themselves, which is not a unique concern to this model, just a magnified one. It’s well understood that not every application as written will run well in a cloud environment. So it is with writing applications able to take advantage of multi-cloud resiliency. Running a workload simultaneously in multiple clouds and having the ability to determine the optimum environment at any given point in time is not a design parameter many application developers have been tasked to accomplish.
Software tools that facilitate cloud-to-cloud environments are also in their nascent stage. Third-party management, cloud connectors and load balancing for this environment are only beginning to make market headway. Forrester cites progress being made by one company, Zerto ─ a Peak 10 partner, in creating new software approaches for seamless migration of live workloads between different clouds. In a recent press release, Zerto talked of workload mobility, saying that in 2014 it will be focused on “the ability to move production workloads regardless of complexity or size between remote physical locations without business interruption – for private, hybrid and public clouds.”
For its part, Peak 10 is following these technology and market developments closely, eager to bring them into our services portfolio in anticipation of customer requirements. Today, our Recovery Cloud provides certain features that apply to hybrid cloud architectures. It enables customers to take advantage of the reduced costs associated with multi-tenancy while accessing the necessary cloud resources to restore services in the event of a site failure ― quickly, securely and regardless of where their production environment is housed.
A key component of the Recovery Cloud is cloud replication. A software-based platform with associated managed services replicates production systems running on the VMware® vSphere hypervisor. Production systems can be housed on the customer’s premises, within a Peak 10 environment or at a third-party data center. The Peak 10 Recovery Cloud also allows for unmanaged hosts to be the production source. Service level agreements (SLAs) are available that specify response time, recovery time objectives and recovery point objectives to best meet customers’ needs.
No doubt before this year is done, we will be talking about fresh new ideas for using the cloud in more amazing and creative ways. Being in the “Age of the Customer” is a powerful motivator. How long before the word cloud is no longer necessary and the lines of differentiation become totally obscured? What’s meaningful are the vast and varied resources that populate this construct we call the cloud, the value you extract from it and that it delivers, and all the things we still haven’t discovered about it.