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API Journal: Opinion

Cloud Computing Wish List For 2010

My wishes for the next year in cloud computing

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As hard as I tried I couldn't resist the lure of doing some type of year-end/new year type cloud blog. However, I decided to forgo the route of giving you a recap of what happened this year in cloud computing or attempting to guess where the rapidly expanding and changing cloud market is going via a list of 2010 cloud predictions. Instead, I've decided to give you my very own 2010 cloud computing wish list.

Mind you, the things on this list aren't predictions for what's going to happen, nor is it made up of items that have a direct tie to any particular offerings. This is simply a list of what I'm hoping to see happen in the cloud computing space over the next year.

1) Application-centric cloud platforms: This is something I wrote about earlier in the year and truly believe is necessary for adoption in the PaaS segment to continue to grow. In many PaaS offerings today, things like servers and application containers are the primary resources that users configure and provision into a cloud. In reality, these resources are many times just a means to an end, which is the hosting of applications and services. A higher level of value would be realized if users could define an application along with it characteristics and dependencies and then have a PaaS solution provision the necessary infrastructure under the covers based on the application profile. In this way, platforms are truly rendered as a service.

2) Well-defined governance models: In my opinion governance's role in cloud computing solutions has been by and large overlooked thus far. Governance models, ideally produced by an industry consortium, that provide users with an idea of how governance fits at all different layers (IaaS, PaaS, SaaS) will likely prove very valuable. There are many different types of governance to consider when talking cloud including architectural (standardizing on platforms and configurations in the cloud), operational (configuring the cloud runtime to make decisions based on well-defined policies), and administrative (declaring who has access to use or otherwise interact with the cloud). All of these layers and types of governance are important to effectively leverage cloud in the enterprise.

3) Application-bound elasticity: Everyone agrees that one of the key features of a cloud is elasticity. That is, resources should be added and removed to the shared pool based on demand. In my opinion any elastic capability is good, but the ultimate is being able to directly bind this elasticity to application performance. For instance, what does a spike in CPU consumption or memory usage on a server tell me about the responsiveness of my application for users? Not much. The spike could be attributed to a batch job running in the background when not many users are even accessing my application. If I were to tell the cloud system to provision more resources when such a condition occurs I may be causing unnecessary resource usage and in effect wasting money. However, if I can tie elasticity to something like request response time, then I've really got something. If the cloud platform notices a sustained increase in response times for requests to my applications, more application instances can be provisioned to alleviate the high load. My user responsiveness is improved, and now I'm putting resource and money to good use.

4) Hybrid cloud focus: Hybrid clouds have been getting little attention compared to their public and private counterparts, but I feel like this cloud deployment model is poised to make a big splash soon. When done right, this offers organizations the best of both worlds in that they can leverage services and resources from both the public and private clouds as appropriate. I'm hoping 2010 brings about some innovative solutions that help to connect applications, data, and other resources running across both public and private clouds to make the construction of hybrid clouds simpler for consumers.

5) Wide-spread industry agreement: It seems like quite a bit of 2009 was spent discussing and sometimes arguing over exactly what does and does not constitute cloud computing. While that was good and mostly helpful (I guess), it's time to move on and focus on helping users adopt the technology. This means understanding both the technological and business inefficiencies that steer enterprises to cloud computing and then constructing solutions that address such inefficiencies. In this respect, I'm hoping for big things from the Enterprise Cloud Buyers Council.

So there it is, my 2010 cloud computing wish list. I'm sure I could have come up with quite a bit more, but those five items seemed to bubble to the top. Here's to hoping 2010 sees continuing advancements and adoption in the cloud computing industry!

More Stories By Dustin Amrhein

Dustin Amrhein joined IBM as a member of the development team for WebSphere Application Server. While in that position, he worked on the development of Web services infrastructure and Web services programming models. In his current role, Dustin is a technical specialist for cloud, mobile, and data grid technology in IBM's WebSphere portfolio. He blogs at http://dustinamrhein.ulitzer.com. You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/damrhein.

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