Cloud Computing’s Defense Future

By Derrick Harris

July 21, 2008

As many times as I have vowed to not talk about cloud computing for a week, I have broken that promise. The cloud simply will not leave me alone. It haunts me. But this week it’s different. This week … I’m only going to restrict my cloud commentary to one story.

That story comes from the Department of Defense, which recently decided to build a cloud infrastructure for its Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) to serve its test and development customers like a commercial infrastructure services provider. Dave Lewis, head of business development for strategic programs at HP Federal, told me that given the continual squeeze on IT budgets, even within the DoD, cloud computing is giving agencies a new way to think about resource procurement.

In fact, he said, the cloud has been so successful in simplifying and speeding the acquisition process for test and development customers, that the current platform likely is just the first step. “As we move forward in a service-oriented architecture environment, compute resources are going to be ubiquitous, and it has to embrace heterogeneity across the DoD,” said Lewis. “I see a time when this could be the way the DoD accesses not only its test and development resources, but also its production capability.” In addition, one of the future plans is for DISA to build grid capabilities into the cloud, Lewis noted.

The cloud infrastructure, expected to be fully operational by October, is an extension of a several-year-long project within the DoD to establish a managed services-type environment where it no longer maintains ownership of assets or software licenses, Lewis says. However its cloud initiative evolves, though, Lewis believes security concerns will keep the DoD away from the commercial cloud and/or hosting players. “I think it has to be managed within the firewalls of the Department of Defense,” says Lewis.

The convergence of grid and cloud computing is a great segue into one of this week’s features, where we take a look at the creation and future of Credit Suisse spin-off DynamicOps. With its Virtual Resource Manager (VRM) product developed within Credit Suisse as a cure to its virtualization management woes, DynamicOps notes among its ultimate goals the convergence of VRM and grid technologies. Credit Suisse was a leading early adopter of grid computing, and Leslie Muller, formerly product development lead at Credit Suisse and current DynamicOps CTO, believes VRM can enable customers to achieve the often-divergent benefits of a scalable grid architecture and a consolidated, simplified virtualization environment. As the analysts seem to agree, this company has everything going for it by virtue of its roots with Credit Suisse, so it should be fascinating to see how it grows and how it affects change in virtualization management.

Now, I’m keeping my promise about leaving the cloud talk to a minimum this week, so I’ll just alert to the second and final piece of Dennis Barker’s look at cloud computing security. You know you’re intrigued by the subject (who isn’t?), so just go ahead and read it. Rather than just pick out concerns, this article focuses on steps cloud providers and customers can take to ensure a safe experience in the troposphere. Read the first part here.

Looking forward, the next few weeks will feature a variety of timely and informative articles, including a closer look at the relationship between grid computing and cloud computing. There have been many conversations about where one ends and the other begins, and I have to say that compelling arguments can be made on many fronts. For my part, I’ll be speaking with several traditional grid computing vendors to find out if, and how, they play into the cloud ecosystem.

As for the rest of the issue, be sure to check out the following items: “Datacenter Expansion in a Can“; “CPS Unveils In-Memory Payment Transaction Platform“; “GigaSpaces, CohesiveFT to Simplify Cloud Scalability“; “Citrix Makes Possible Hypervisor-Independent App Workloads“; “Intec Sees Efficiency, Performance on Sun CoolThreads Grid“; and “Salesforce.com Certifying Cloud-Based App Developers.”

—–

Comments about GRIDtoday are welcomed and encouraged. Write to me, Derrick Harris, at [email protected].

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