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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

CAFL and the Uber Cloud



I think high schools and colleges should consider offering a new course called CAFL -- an acronym we invented for Cloud as a Foreign Language.  In it, students would learn words like IaaS (infrastructure as a service), SaaS (software as a service), PaaS (platform as a service), Virtualization, Virtual Cloud, Hybrid Cloud, Public Cloud, Private Cloud and many more dynamic new additions to the language of the cloud that combine to make Ms. Connevey's high school French class all those years ago seem like un morceau de g√Ęteau by comparison.
My suggestion for the final exam of CAFL would be to ask students to define the Inter-cloud.  

Oh yes, you marketers of the abstract, obtuse and occasionally ridiculous, the nascent cloud lexicon is already moving to the next level. 

Just for starters, here is how Wikipedia defines Inter-cloud idea: The Intercloud is an interconnected global "cloud of clouds" and an extension of the Internet "network of networks" on which it is based. 

Now, I could stop here, because I'm sure most of you completely appreciate the value of such a succinct definition.  Doesn't it stand to reason that the Inter-cloud would mean "cloud of clouds," "network of networks."   

But for those of you, like me, who might require just a smidgen more, let's push on to Lesson Two. 


In an April 2009 blog, this is how Cisco defined the Inter-Cloud:
  • At some point in the not horribly distant future, some service providers will offer “virtual private cloud” services to allow “private clouds” to consume resources in the service provider infrastructure, while maintaining the illusion of being a part of the customer’s private cloud. This is simply extending “intranets” to consume services over the Internet without exposing the content to the general public–kind of like VPN? (Not a perfect analogy, to be sure.)
  • In the meantime the set of public cloud services evolves, standardizes, and becomes a more open market. Not all will be virtual private clouds services; there will be other forms of interoperability. These sets of interoperable, interchangable clouds could be thought of as “open clouds”.
  • In the early stages, however, there will be relatively tight coupling between the enterprise and any individual public cloud offering chosen; not necessarily lock-in, but the time taken to make a change is still somewhat onerous and involves direct agreements between the customer and the vendors involved. So “open clouds” are not yet the most elastic markets they could be.
  • The network technology to enable the linkage of enterprises to all forms of public cloud offerings (not just virtual private clouds) in a way that takes the unique nature of cloud computing and running IT workloads in mind is called “cloud internetworking”.
  • The final phase–many years from now–includes the introduction of publicly shared core services–very much like DNS and peering–into the carrier networks that enable a more loosely coupled relationship between customer and cloud vendors. This serves to greatly increase the elasticity of the cloud market, and creates a single public open cloud internetwork–the Inter-Cloud.
By now, I'm sure you have it.  But just to wrap this one, let's take one more crack at it just to prep for finals.

The Intercloud is really a futuristic concept of an uber cloud -- one all-encompassing cloud made up of the combination of all clouds -- thus a "cloud of clouds." It will incorporate the power and storage of all its member clouds. When one member cloud reaches capacity, it can use the combined processing and storage of the rest of the Intercloud (presumably for a fee). 

If I have this wrong, please let me know. I'm bucking for an A in CAFL and there are no Cliff Notes!

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