"Cloud service providers, the IT industry, professional and industry associations, governments, and IT professionals all have a role to play in shaping, fostering, and harnessing the full potential of the emerging cloud ecosystem."
-- San Murugesan, Guest Editor
Driven by several converging and complementary factors, cloud computing is advancing as an IT service delivery model at a staggering pace. It is also causing a paradigm shift in the way we deliver and use IT. Its transformational potential is huge and impressive, and consequently cloud computing is being adopted by a spectrum of stakeholders -- individual users, businesses, educational institutions, governments, and community organizations. It is also helping to close the digital (information) divide.
In order to successfully and fully embrace the promise of clouds, adopters must, of course, use one or more of the three foundational cloud services -- software as a service (SaaS), infrastructure as a service (IaaS), and platform as a service (PaaS). But they must also address several other related factors, including security, privacy, user access management, compliance requirements, business continuity, and more. Furthermore, would-be adopters may have to use services from more than one service provider, aggregate those services, and integrate them with each other and with the organization's legacy applications/systems. Thus they need to architect a cloud-based system to meet their specific requirements. But special skills and experience are needed to do all this -- skills that many cloud adopters wouldn't have.
To assist them in their transition to clouds and to allow them to focus on their core business, a cloud ecosystem is emerging that aims to offer a spectrum of new cloud services, including support services that augment, complement, and assist the popular SaaS, IaaS, and PaaS offerings. Investors, corporations, and startups are eagerly investing in promising cloud computing technologies and services in both developed and developing economies.
What are these new cloud services, and what are their business models? Who is offering them, and how do we evaluate them? How can cloud adopters leverage and benefit from these services? How will the cloud ecosystem emerge in the next five years? These are some of the key questions facing IT professionals, cloud adopters, and business executives.
A BIGGER CLOUD ECOSYSTEM IS ON ITS WAY
The cloud ecosystem has begun to evolve to provide a vast array of services that support and aid in deployment of cloud-based solutions for a variety of applications across many different domains. Further new types of cloud deployment, new models that deliver value-added services, and new costing and business models are on the horizon. Besides cloud service providers and users, many new players that perform niche roles are getting into the cloud arena. Cloud-based applications are being widely adopted by individuals and businesses in developed countries, and even more so in developing economies such as India, South Africa, and China.1 Governments in many countries are promoting adoption of clouds by businesses, particularly micro, small, and medium enterprises, as well as individuals. As a result, a new bigger cloud ecosystem is emerging.
A current snapshot of the cloud ecosystem reveals:
Cloud services. Besides the three foundational cloud services (SaaS, IaaS, and PaaS), new services include data as a service, desktop as a service, security as a service, APIs as a service, backup as a service, disaster recovery as a service, storage as a service, test environment as a service, testing as a service, data analytics as a service, and science as a service.
Cloud delivery models. These models include public clouds, private clouds, hybrid clouds, community clouds, personal clouds, multi-tiered clouds, mega clouds (clouds of clouds), and microclouds.
Cloud players. Among these players are cloud service providers, cloud service users, cloud enablers, cloud aggregators, cloud brokers, cloud auditors, cloud regulators, professional and industry associations promoting and developing cloud standards, governments, cloud training providers, and educators and researchers.
The cloud ecosystem is poised to become bigger, more powerful, and more versatile. Clouds are becoming the "new normal."2
IN THIS ISSUE
To provide a glimpse of the emerging cloud ecosystem and the issues surrounding it, we present four articles in this issue that focus, in turn, on PaaS-IaaS integration, intrusion detection as a service (IDaaS), user-centric cloud service agreements, and the realization of an interoperable cloud ecosystem.
Integrated PaaS: A Game Changer?
Our first author, Beth Cohen, leads a consulting practice in IT infrastructure strategy. In her article, Cohen highlights the role of PaaS in developing and delivering applications better, faster, and cheaper and discusses the need for -- and the benefits of -- integrating PaaS with underlying IaaS cloud infrastructures. She also presents a good overview of the PaaS market, compares the key features of popular PaaS platforms, and outlines currently available integrated PaaS/IaaS tools. As development tools become easier to deploy and use on the clouds, Cohen argues, a bright future awaits for PaaS, with widespread adoption by both established enterprises and startups. Will integrated PaaS be a game changer for many businesses that need to maximize the benefits of cloud architectures? She believes it is likely.
Securing the Clouds: Intrusion Detection as a Service
Security of data and applications in the clouds continues to be a key concern for cloud users and regulatory agencies, and intrusion detection within the cloud environment is a major challenge for security analysts and cloud users. Intrusion detection systems (IDSs) have come to the rescue in many attacks, and our second article addresses the challenges involved in deploying an IDS. In their article, John P Veigas and K Chandra Sekaran of the National Institute of Technology Karnataka, India, present a brief overview of IDSs in general and in the cloud. They highlight major ongoing developments in this area, as well as their limitations. They then introduce "a framework for an intrusion detection and reporting service for cloud consumers based on the type of application and consumer's security needs" and walk us through their proof-of-concept.
The User-Centered Cloud SLA: Making It a Reality
When organizations consider adopting cloud services, they have legitimate concerns relating to performance, availability, privacy, disaster recovery, and notification of failures, and they want to know how they can ensure that these aspects are adequately addressed. Invariably, the terms and conditions of cloud services are enforced (dictated) by the service providers and are distinctly provider-centric. Users typically have very little say on these terms and conditions and must simply take them as given. Cutter Senior Consultant Claude Baudoin discusses this important and often neglected facet of cloud computing in our third article, "Cloud Ecology: Surviving in the Jungle." Briefly outlining the roles of the five key actors in the cloud ecosystem (as defined in the NIST Cloud Computing Reference Architecture), Baudoin highlights the drawbacks of current provider-biased contractual agreements. In an effort to achieve a better balance, and drawing on the findings of a Cloud Standards Customer Council (CSCC) working group, he discusses what cloud users must request from providers. These needs range from clear document names and unambiguous expression of commitments to mutual agreement about auditing mechanisms. Baudoin's recommendations will help ensure that cloud consumers "don't get eaten alive, or at least [can] put up a good fight."
Enabling an Interoperable Cloud Ecosystem
As we begin to use clouds for a variety of applications across many different domains, their seamless use and transparent integration become essential requirements. To realize such an ecosystem, of course, much work remains to be done by ecosystem participants, and this demands good will, collaboration, and coordination among them. In our final article, Kathy Grise, Future Directions Senior Program Director with IEEE, offers recommendations to industry participants on what approaches and steps they must take to facilitate the cloud ecosystem's evolution if we are to realize this grand vision of interoperable clouds. She also emphasizes that the promise of the "interoperable cloud ecosystem is broad and pervades industries of all types, from the smart grid to the life sciences and beyond." As Grise points out, with the realization of this vision, a new era of cloud innovation and competition will emerge.
While hailing the features of current and potential new cloud services that help users adopt and tailor the services they use according to their needs, it is important to recognize that the new interlinked cloud ecosystem presents several challenges and concerns -- particularly those relating to interoperability, the quality of service of the entire cloud chain, compliance, security and privacy of data, access control and management, the impact of service failures, and more. All these issues need to be addressed innovatively, and this calls for collaboration among various players in the cloud ecosystem, as Grise suggests. The good news is that investors, established corporations, and startups are eagerly investing in promising cloud computing technologies and services and are willing to collaborate (to an extent) to raise clouds to new heights. We hope to soon see a brighter, bigger, more collaborative cloud ecosystem that benefits all of its stakeholders and society at large.
This issue of Cutter IT Journal presents just a glimpse of this future cloud ecosystem. Innovations in technology, service delivery, and business models are needed to make further inroads and embrace the cloud ecosystem's untapped potential. Cloud service providers, the IT industry, professional and industry associations, governments, and IT professionals all have a role to play in shaping, fostering, and harnessing the full potential of the emerging cloud ecosystem. I hope this issue kindles all of our thinking and helps to make the grand vision of an all-encompassing, interoperable, collaborative cloud ecosystem a reality in the near future. I invite you to share your insights, ideas, and concerns about clouds with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 Murugesan, San. "Cloud Computing Gives Emerging Markets a Lift." IT Professional, Vol. 13, No. 6, November-December 2011, pp. 60-62.
2 Murugesan, San. "Cloud Computing: The New Normal?" Computer, Vol. 46, No. 1, January 2013, pp. 77-79.
Driven by several converging and complementary factors, cloud computing is advancing as an IT service delivery model at a staggering pace. It is also causing a paradigm shift in the way we deliver and use IT. Its transformational potential is huge and impressive, and consequently cloud computing is being adopted by a spectrum of stakeholders -- individual users, businesses, educational institutions, governments, and community organizations. It is also helping to close the digital (information) divide. To provide a glimpse of the emerging cloud ecosystem and the issues surrounding it, we present four articles in this issue that focus, in turn, on PaaS-IaaS integration, intrusion detection as a service (IDaaS), user-centric cloud service agreements, and the realization of an interoperable cloud ecosystem.