Transitioning from Traditional Computing Architectures to Cloud Architectures

July 13, 2010 by Bob Roudebush

Typical data center architectures are based around not just the functions that servers perform, but the capabilities of the hardware in performing it.  In a cloud computing scenario, supported by full-scale virtualization, the capabilities of the hardware change from constants to variables.  Sometimes this makes it more difficult for architects to transition larger-scale deployments, even of specific functions like applications hosting, from physical data centers to the cloud. 

To some extent, Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) cloud computing (specifically virtualization as the enabling technology for cloud computing) does homogenize the capabilities of the underlying hardware being used.  This is mostly a benefit because it provides economies of scale and allows IaaS providers to maintain higher availability for servers hosted in a cloud.  It does make things like sizing or designing the deployment of applications a bit tougher because typically we deploy the different aspects of a multi-tier application on different types of platforms – i.e., small, scale-out environments for web servers and large, scale-up environments for back-end database servers.

One approach that can be taken is to build “clouds within clouds” each with different characteristics.  A second approach would be to carve things like compute capacity or storage capacity up  into “building blocks” so that when it’s time to deploy an application, an administrator can combine one or more of these “building blocks” to ensure that a specific part of the application is getting the performance it requires. 

BlueLock takes both approaches.  Within our IaaS cloud hosting offering, we have different tiers with different performance and availability characteristics – BlueLock vCloud Express, Virtual Cloud Professional and Virtual Cloud Enterprise.  On the one end, BlueLock vCloud Express is great for things like dev and test.  On the other end, Virtual Cloud Enterprise is a fully-managed IaaS cloud built for performance and availability and perfect for mission-critical or regulated applications.  We try to work closely with prospects to understand their needs and then match those up with the appropriate service.