Seven Steps to Heaven & Five to the Cloud

Back in the eighties I worked on a magazine called Jazz FM that followed the radio station of the same name. I can’t abide jazz to be honest, but I did keep hold of one album from that era by American jazz trumpeter Miles Davis called Seven Steps to Heaven.

Back in the eighties I worked on a magazine called Jazz FM that followed the radio station of the same name. I can’t abide jazz to be honest, but I did keep hold of one album from that era by American jazz trumpeter Miles Davis called Seven Steps to Heaven. The connection here? Every time I see a list of top tips for cloud computing I think of how I might be able to ‘crowbar’ that reference into a blog headline. So as you can see I just did.

My raison d’être for this story is that with the Infosecurity Europe exhibition now upon us, I was bouncing around the exhibitor listings trying to formulate an action plan for attendance. That is, if I can shrug off my swine flu fears enough to attend and shake a few (hopefully very clean) hands. From these lists I found a quite pleasantly digestible piece of content from Lori MacVittie at Application Delivery Networking (ADN) company F5 Networks entitled ‘5 Steps to Building a Cloud Computing Infrastructure’.

I’m personally involved in a project to analyse the potential for virtual desktop applications delivered in a unique (it might be – I’m not sure yet) kind of a way, so I have been very keen to follow both the front end and the back end of this technology. While corporate uptake of cloud driven apps is still relatively sluggish, MacVittie rightly points out that the concerns over security, privacy, reliability, visibility and portability all stand out as sticking points.

There may be a deeper reason for the sluggishness seen in the cloud computing market i.e. that essentially, like SOA, cloud computing is not a product. It is more commonly descried as a ‘framework’ or an ‘infrastructure’ in its own right and this makes it tough to implement as it doesn’t come off the shelf in a nice shiny box.

MacVittie says that it, “Necessarily requires coordination not just across a variety of data centre infrastructure but disparate teams, as well. It is not just an exercise in implementing an architectural model. It requires coordination and collaboration between people.”

Summarising F5’s five steps to heavenly cloud computing as follows:

1. Decide which technology will be the basis for your on-demand application infrastructure. 2. Determine what delivery infrastructure will be used to abstract the application infrastructure. 3. Prepare the network infrastructure 4. Provide visibility and automation of management tasks. 5. Integrate all the moving parts, such that the infrastructure actually becomes on-demand and realises the benefits of abstraction, automation, and resource sharing.

You can read this content in full here if you wish. But don’t take it as gospel; this will not be the first (and surely not the last either) list you read that will offer cloud computing offering advice. It is however short, punchy and quite relevant.

If companies looking to dip their toes into the cloud market think about it from the right perspective, then they’ll most likely run tests on lightweight applications that are non-critical to the business first. They’ll also approach the cloud with the right strategic ideals in mind i.e. they will should be looking to reclaim unused computing resources while saving money, while all the time managing performance across a new virtualised infrastructure.