Vendors must help with confusion over cloud computing

So cloud could be infrastructure or software as a service, or it could be point-of-service with advertising, or be extra processing power or secure environments for scaling up or testing.

Open source future

If that doesn't help, it's not going to get any simpler in the future.

A recent development that points the way towards the route IT vendors are taking was the announcement that collaborative cloud computing research initiative Open Cirrus has expanded its membership, suggesting open source and interoperability might be the keywords of the future for cloud.

The initiative has been designed a test-bed' facility comprising six data-centre sites around the world, provided by its founding partners: HP Research Labs, Intel Research, Yahoo Research and the University of Illinois in the US, the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany, and the Infocomm Development Authority in Singapore.

The initiative is using Amazon web services (AWS) is the standard interface, with Hadoop and MapReduce as the programming model for research projects on data-centre federation and management, integration of cloud services, management of service quality, and the protection of data integrity, privacy and security.

Ovum called on enterprise CIOs to start paying "attention to the evolving cloud research landscape, and perhaps it is time that we started to see large business corporations involving themselves in initiatives like Open Cirrus and the emerging debates on cloud standards," it stated.

Big players

There are other big players to keep an eye on, too.

Infrastructure companies like IBM, EDS and Microsoft have all recently released their own frameworks and services to help manage the cloud.

But many of these, like Citrix Cloud Centre (C3), offer a portfolio of integrated delivery infrastructure virtualisation and network management products that are currently packaged and marketed to cloud service providers.

Managing the cloud

Once you've figured out what it means for you, managing cloud services is the next step.

One company that's taken on the enterprise need to manage, control and secure their use of the cloud is service oriented architecture (SOA) vendor Tibco. In June it released a beta version of its application delivery platform for cloud computing, called Silver.

Tibco Silver provides container support for Java, C++ and Ruby with support for .NET and Spring that the vendor said would give an architect the flexibility to construct a composite application using services developed in various programming languages and deploy composite applications with minimal effort.

But John Eng, vice president of marketing for Parallels service provider division told IT PRO such products were responding to an emerging need: "While large enterprises may use public cloud services providers, internal IT resources are undergoing a transformation into private clouds from which services and applications are delivered to business units and departments in a highly flexible, scalable, and efficient manner."

Eng said the cost and delivery challenges faced by IT departments today could be addressed through cloud computing, but only if the provisioning, delivery, and management of IT services is automated. "IT teams spend thousands of hours each year provisioning and decommissioning servers, containers and applications," he added.

He said that, by using automation solutions, like those increasingly being developed by the likes of Parallels, enterprises would be able to automate these processes and free up significant amounts of time for the IT team to focus on delivering the desired service levels and implementing new services and ultimately harness the benefits promised by cloud computing.

Miya Knights

A 25-year veteran enterprise technology expert, Miya Knights applies her deep understanding of technology gained through her journalism career to both her role as a consultant and as director at Retail Technology Magazine, which she helped shape over the past 17 years. Miya was educated at Oxford University, earning a master’s degree in English.

Her role as a journalist has seen her write for many of the leading technology publishers in the UK such as ITPro, TechWeekEurope, CIO UK, Computer Weekly, and also a number of national newspapers including The Times, Independent, and Financial Times.