Home > Cloud Computing, Cloud Security > Does Cloud Infrastructure Matter? You Bet Your Ass(ets) It Does!

Does Cloud Infrastructure Matter? You Bet Your Ass(ets) It Does!

James Urquhart wrote a great blog today titled “The new cloud infrastructure: do you care?” in which he says:

…if you are a consumer of cloud-based resources, the mantra has long been that you can simply deploy or consume your applications/services without any regard to the infrastructure on which they are being hosted. A very cool concept for an application developer, to be sure, but I think it’s a mistake to ignore what lies under the hood.

At the very least, the future of hardware ought to touch the inner geek in all of us.

What is happening in data center infrastructure is a complete rethinking of the architectures utilized to deliver online services, from the overall data center architectures all the way down to the very components that serve the “big four” elements of the data center: facilities, servers, storage and networking.


While James’ post focused mostly on how the underlying compute platforms are changing such as his illustration with Cisco’s UCS, Rackable’s C2 and Google’s custom machines, this trend will expand up and down the infrastructure stack.

From a technologist or architect’s perspective, what powers the underlying Cloud infrastructure is really important. As James alludes to, issues of interoperability can and will be impacted by the underlying platforms upon which the abstracted application resources sit.  This may sound contentious from the PaaS and SaaS perspective, but not so from that of IaaS, afterall the “I” in IaaS stands for infrastructure.

I made this point recently from a security perspective in my blog post titled “The Cloud Is a Fickle Mistress: DDoS&M…”  wherein I said:

We’re told we shouldn’t have to worry about the underlying infrastructure with Cloud, that it’s abstracted and someone else’s problem to manage…until it’s not.

…or here in Cloud Catastrophes (Cloudtastophes?) Caused by Clueless Caretakers?:

The abstraction of infrastructure and democratization of applications and data that Cloud Computing services can bring does not mean that all services are created equal.  It does not make our services or information more secure (or less for that matter.)  Just because a vendor brands themselves as a “Cloud” provider does not mean that “their” infrastructure is any more implicitly reliable, stable or resilient than traditional infrastructure or that proper enterprise architecture as it relates to people, process and technology is in place.  How the infrastructure is built and maintained is just as important as ever.

What we’ll also see is that even though we’re not supposed to care what our Cloud providers’ infrastructure is powered by and how, we absolutely will in the long term and the vendors know it.   This is where people start to freak about how standards and consolidation will kill innovation in the space but it’s also where the realities of running a business come crashing down on early adopters. Large enterprises will move to providers who can demonstrate that their services are solid by way of co-branding with the reputation of the providers of infrastructure coupled with the compliance to “standards.”

Remember the “Cisco Powered Network” program?  How about a “Cisco Powered Cloud?”  See how GoGrid advertises their load balancers are f5?

In the long term, like the CapitalOne credit card commercials challenging the company providing your credit card services by asking “What’s in your wallet?” you can expect to start asking the same thing about your Cloud providers’ offerings, also.

So, depending on what you do and what you need, your choice of provider — and what sits under their hood — may matter a ton.


Categories: Cloud Computing, Cloud Security Tags:
  1. JN
    April 9th, 2009 at 01:43 | #1

    This whole cloud thing sounds just like outsourcing thats had a makeover. If your infrastructure/support services are creaking and fixing things is just going to be too hard, outsource it all. Problem solved! Isn't it?

    It seems some CIO are happy not to know the details. They can then feign outrage and plead ignorance when something goes wrong. I like to know the details which is why there are outsourcing service providers who really dont like me.

    So, I'm looking at EC2 as a way of reducing the amount of tin in our data centres. I'm confident their physical security is better than we are prepared to make ours. We are still managing our own operating system so thats a 'known'. In between is a big unknown. Data is moving around between who-knows-where protected by who-knows-what. I want to find out which administrators can get access to my data or the disk images containing the private keys to my encryption that are held somewhere in S3.

    Not sure of the answer that will make me comfortable, but I doubt it will be straightforward.

  2. MadKat97
    April 9th, 2009 at 03:45 | #2

    Ah, but remember that the supply of pixie dust is infinite. Sprinkle, sprinkle, little cloud …

  3. April 9th, 2009 at 12:19 | #3

    Errata: Rackable makes the C2, not Rackspace.

  4. April 10th, 2009 at 05:03 | #4

    @Kent Langley

    Oops! Thanks!


  5. October 4th, 2011 at 08:00 | #5

    excellenta a ernadente si dogrecag esinantib con tuituo. fadveco peludonto se cosev son quadios mi steameba dagelmela y relhane patin ramos.

  1. April 10th, 2009 at 10:03 | #1