Cloud brokers should heed lessons from the best online dating sites

Think about it: on an online dating site, would you just want to be matched with everyone in your age range and nothing else? Why bet your infrastructure on incompatible matches by an online broker?
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer

Perhaps cloud brokers emerging on the scene should be more like the best of the online matchmakers. Recommendations are made on factors well beyond age, gender and interests. Likewise, cloud brokers need to weigh more factors than price and performance. 

That's the word from F5 Networks' Lori MacVittie, who references a n ESG/VMware survey from earlier in 2012, which found that 78% of IT managers were seeking compatibility between external cloud service providers and internal clouds or virtualized data centers. She emphasizes that the compatibility is the operative term here -- not interoperability, long the goal of SOA and web services efforts. 

While cloud brokers currently focus on matching consumers with providers based on simple characteristics such as price and performance, they need to also move into "deeper, more critical capabilities like security and data integrity services, acceleration and optimization, and application-layer networking." as MacVittie explains:

"It's not just about listing out services. To really get to the heart of compatibility, if what we're desiring is operational consistency, we need not only a more standard method of describing infrastructure policies (rule sets, processing directives, etc…) but the means to determine whether a given infrastructure service is capable of not only accepting but creating such a policy. Such policies must be abstract, they cannot be specific to any given environment. We need a way to describe the rules used to configure Amazon Security Groups, for example, such that they can be consumed and implemented by Rackspace, or BlueLock or an OpenStack-based private cloud framework."

What is needed from cloud brokers, MacVittie says, are descriptions of virtual machines, applications, and networks at infrastructure compatibility to aid organizations' "transition from private to hybrid and public architectures." Cloud brokers "could provide this level of metadata, if providers recognize the importance of disseminating that information in a way that's easily consumable and are willing to offer the data organizations need to make their decisions."

Just as online dating services need to provide more than just matching people by age, gender, and hobbies, "it's also going to take a lot more detail than just price and location to make a compatible match between cloud consumers and providers when critical business functions are on the line."

(Thumbnail photo: Joe McKendrick.)

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