The idea or concept of the “Cloud” has been around for some time. Some of you may be familiar with Frame-Relay a WAN technology invented by Eric Scace while he worked for Sprint back in the late 80’s. Frame-Relay uses the concept of the cloud. Companies were presented with the concept of not paying more to have a point to point connection between their locations. The solution was to connect them over Frame-Relay which connected each location to a “Cloud” where the data would be routed securely from one location to the next.
Although “Cloud” didn’t become a buzz word until recently the concept has been in use for many years. The inception of virtualization by VMware in the early 2000’s started a new revolution. A revolution where x86 based computers or servers were no longer physical machines, but files that existed somewhere on storage and ran inside software based containers. This added a new level of flexibility to the datacenter. Files are flexible, files are movable, files can be manipulated and all this can be done programmatically. This opened the doorway for a new era. An era where a server had no boundaries and could exist anywhere. It didn’t have a row and rack and slot ID, it simply had a name.
Servers now float around datacenters from one piece of metal to another almost as a living organism socializing with other servers in the datacenter. Many companies didn’t know how to handle this. Processes required each server be tied to a physical asset for tracking purposed. This presented chanllenfes for companies how do you track a server with no ties to a physical piece of hardware? Many companies tried tracking where the server was running, as it moved from one host to another updating their asset system, keeping good watch on where it was running at all times. This proved to be somewhat challenging, doing this manually mean constantly watching the servers move from one host to another and then manually updating the asset database or not taking advantage of these features.
This lead some to develop scripts that would run on a schedule that would find the location of the server and then update the asset database. So the dawn of what we know call the “Cloud” was on the verge of creation. Scripts that automate interactions with machine moving around the datacenter with no rhyme or reason. Servers moving around to ensure efficiency and reliability and companies struggling to keep up with their every move. Scripts started to emerge to allow for more efficient creation of virtual machines, scripts to perform bulk operations of virtual machines, scripts to deploy hypervisors that could run more virtual machines. IT organizations delivering servers more quickly and rapidly to the business and much like children as the businesses started getting everything they ask for, the more quickly the business would consume them and the more the business wanted.
This quickly led to virtualizaion sprawl. IT started loosing track of what was running in their datacenters, what was in use and what was not needed any longer. The lines of business keep wanting more and more, not only do they now want their servers delivered more quickly, but their applications as well. They have come to accept that they don’t know where there is server running and no longer care. Now it’s about getting what they want as quickly as they want. Consumer websites delivering music, storage, and movies all at the speed of light leads to people wanting the same level of service from IT. The culmination of all these create a huge demand on the industry to deliver services to anyone and everyone who needs them without the headaches of what storage fabric is it one, which storage to utilize, what network should it be on, what switch port is it using, or which server can we use and so on.
The ability to automate and deliver servers to consumers via a web interface based on request. What a grand idea. It has been being utilized in the consumer market for years, but not in enterprise IT. So companies shifted focus to produce what everyone was asking for, new companies emerged and create products to solve this ever growing problem. Automation, Integration, traveling servers, virtual networks, virtual storage, nobody knows where systems live and IT needed some answers when someone asks where exactly is my server running. The answer is the “Cloud”. It sounds good right? It’s running in the “Cloud” and so it was born. The Cloud era.