Guest Column | April 16, 2014

5 Features All Cloud Platforms Should Possess

Best Cloud Platform Features

By Vinay Venkataraghavan, Senior Software Engineer, RiverMeadow

Managed services providers (MSPs) face an array of complex questions as they decide whether to migrate workloads to and between clouds. But, the key question surrounding the value proposition of cloud migrations is:

What are the characteristics of the cloud that make it the future of enterprise IT?

The rest of this article is dedicated to answering this question, with a list of the top five features that all cloud platforms should possess:

  1. Rapid deployment: Prior to rolling out into production and development and operations, IT departments and developers can rapidly, deploy, test, iterate, and scale their application infrastructures. This workflow provides operational and development flexibility, not easily achieved in legacy infrastructures. The classic case in point: the time taken from the point a purchase order is approved; to server provisioning; to software installation, which can easily be on the order of weeks. These pain points are readily addressed by cloud platforms and systems.
  2. Monitoring services: With monitoring features, users are notified about alarms, failures, load, and other aspects of their cloud infrastructure, providing the capability to take appropriate remedial action as necessary. In general, monitoring frameworks are critical components of physical, virtualized, or cloud platforms. However, the importance is magnified on cloud platforms due to the inherent failure characteristics of clouds. Therefore, users need to be notified of such failures so that corrective action can be taken.
  3. Elasticity, flexibility, and scalability: The holy grail for CIO’s, IT managers, and software managers are characteristics such as “elasticity,” “flexibility,” “lower OPEX (operational expenditures).” Elasticity and flexibility are two of the most fundamental characteristics that are built into the DNA of clouds.

The software industry has undergone a paradigm shift in terms of software deployment, specifically the need for on-demand expansion and scalability. The elastic nature of the clouds enables application scalability to meet rapidly changing demands.

  1. API interface: Cloud platforms expose a RESTful (representational state transfer) API interface, which enables programmatic interaction. The API also provides the capability for end users to develop sophisticated scripts, client tools, and orchestration software to automate all aspects of interacting with the cloud.
  2. Infrastructure on demand: This feature provides the capability of “instantaneous gratification” in the context of IT resources. End users can deploy and instantiate collections of compute, network, and storage resources instantaneously and in a matter of minutes. Such turnaround times to stand up infrastructure-related services were and continue to be unimaginable in legacy data centers. This ability compliments agile development, deployment, and lower op ex, as well as empowers users with control over their environment.

The above features are just a few to name that help explain why IT managers and CIO’s across industry verticals are employing clouds to transform the way they do business and, more importantly, greatly reduce both operational and capital expenditures.

Vinay Venkataraghavan, senior software engineer at RiverMeadow Software, brings a decade of experience building and rolling out products in the virtualization and cloud industry. Prior to RiverMeadow, Vinay worked at Nimbula, a company which brought AWS to the private cloud, and Xsigo Systems, a pioneer in I/O virtualization. Vinay's passion revolves around building products that solve real problems and making cloud adoption a reality.