云计算供应商对企业IT业务的威胁

2011年11月30日09:16
  云计算供应商已经对大多数企业内部的IT业务构成了挑战,不过人们往往低估了这些挑战。以下几则新闻印证了这一点。它们阐释了云计算对企业IT工作团队造成的威胁。

  第一则是一篇关于AOL(美国在线)的博客,讲述了AOL是如何构建了一个完全不需人工操作的数据中心的。作者特别强调,他最近刚刚去了AOL,目的是帮助他们提高数据中心的工作效率。他说道:“在这个过程中,我才真正意识到我们所面临的特殊挑战。在“互联网”的层面上,我们所面临的挑战与大部分企业及政府部门所面临的相类似,而与大型网络公司所面临的问题不尽相同。”

  作者继续写道,尽管AOL也称得上早期的“互联网巨头”,但他们同大多数企业一样采用了数以百计的定制的﹑配置不一的计算系统,从而导致了手动管理﹑成本高﹑不易改变等缺陷。

  接下来作者又讲述了AOL如何重建了自己的整个网络系统以及支持工具和生产流程,从而创造了完全自动化的部署环境。他们不再需要工作人员进入数据中心内部进行操作设备﹑配置网络﹑调试电缆之类的工作。

  作者介绍了自动化系统的核心CMDB(配置管理数据库)。CMDB使快速﹑动态的资源配置成为可能。究竟能快速﹑动态到什么程度呢?虚拟机运算只需8秒。植入应用程序及中间软件包再用8秒。将程序重新配置投入生产?60秒就足够了。

  AOL的例子揭示了一个实质性问题,那就是:云计算可以为企业提供可扩展的﹑极具成本效益的计算环境。

  过了几天,我又看到另一篇博客,作者是一位企业的IT技术人员。在博客里,他对IT自动化工具的优势及适用性嗤之以鼻。他认为,对大多数企业来说,人工的计算解决方案(当然要用聪明﹑有经验的人员)才是构建持续性好﹑效率高的基础运算设施的关键。

  我经常遇到对云计算持否定态度的人。他们会举一些需要细致的人工调节才能达到运算要求的系统作为例子,来支持他们的观点。

  人们常常将ERP环境中数据库的配置作为例子,证明云计算自动化的不足。他们因此得出结论,企业应该沿用现有的传统计算方式,因为一些要求比较严格的程序需要富有经验的技术人员进行调试才能确保正常运行。

  随着云技术的新发展,IT企业所面临的最大威胁就是云技术为他们对新技术的展望设置了障碍。如果AOL可以在8秒内通过服务器完成运算,而其他的IT企业要花两个星期的时间,这种低效率几乎让人绝望.

  如果事先对程序的资料进行评估,情况就会好很多。有些程序不适合在云部署过程中运行,它们需要有经验的技术人员来确保运行的流畅性,而我们可以通过事先的评估发现这类程序。对这类程序,IT企业应制定相应的方案对其部署﹑运行及监控做出计划。对于其他的应用程序,应积极地移植到云服务商那里,发挥他们在效率和成本上的优势。

  IT所犯的最大错误就是没有认识到这种分类的必要性。当一种可以显著节约成本的技术在某个产业内流行开来的时候,一家公司如果不能及时采纳这种技术,将对公司的生存造成极大威胁。如果对云计算持怀疑态度,仅仅将它看做“中心化边缘化”循环的又一例证,你将无法真正理解它在计算领域的革命性意义。如果一家公司相信自己仍可以沿用传统的计算方式而不做出改变,它将无法从之前的成本节约革命中吸取教训,并有可能成为现代版的Studebaker(斯蒂贝克,美国豪华车品牌,于1963年消亡)。

  People underestimate how much cloud providers present a challenge to IT as it"s practiced today in most organizations. A couple of news stories brought home this point. They illustrate the existential threat that cloud computing and its practices present to corporate IT groups.

  The first item that came across my desk was a blog entry about AOL and how it has built a completely unmanned data center. The writer noted that he came to AOL relatively recently and was tasked with streamlining its data centers. He says, "It was during this process that I came to realize that our particular legacy challenge, while at "Internet" scale, was more closely related to the challenges of most corporate or government environments than the biggest Internet players."

  The writer continues to say that, despite its early "King of the Internet" position, AOL"s collection of hundreds of bespoke, inconsistently configured and implemented systems made it very similar to most enterprise environments: manually administered, high cost and difficult to change.

  The piece then goes on to describe how AOL restructured its entire infrastructure, and more importantly, its supporting tools and processes, to create a lights-out, completely automated deployment environment. No one needs to enter the data center to provision machines, configure networks, run cables, etc.

  The writer describes how a key piece of the automation systems is a CMDB (configuration management database), which allows quick, dynamic provisioning of resources. How quick and dynamic? Virtual machines in eight seconds. Injection of application and middleware software packages in another eight seconds. Reconfiguration to move into production? Sixty seconds.

  AOL"s story, stripped to its basics, is that of an organization applying today"s cloud-inspired IT management best practices to achieve highly scalable, extremely cost-efficient computing environments.

  The next day, I came across another blog post written by an enterprise IT professional. In it, he pooh-poohed the advantage and serviceability of automated IT tools. He posited that, for most organizations, a solution of human computing (meaning smart, experienced, people) is the right way to achieve a consistent, efficient infrastructure.

  I often come across people who denigrate cloud computing. They point out systems that require careful hand tuning to achieve acceptable performance.

  Database configuration in production ERP environments is commonly cited as an example of why cloud computing automation isn"t sufficient. The suggested conclusion is that IT organizations should continue existing practices because they ensure that finicky applications requiring trial-and-error optimization by experienced professionals can be managed properly.

  The biggest threat to IT organizations faced with these new cloud developments is that they set the new bar of expectations. If AOL can get a server up in eight seconds, and the IT organization takes two weeks, it"s going to be seen as hopelessly ineffective.

  Far better would be to evaluate the application portfolio and identify those applications for which the skills of experienced personnel are required to ensure performance, compliance or other characteristics uncongenial to cloud deployment. A case should be made for those applications to be deployed, administered and monitored by the IT organization. The rest of the application portfolio should be aggressively migrated to cloud providers who can apply their efficiency and cost advantages to them.

  The biggest mistake most IT organizations make is failing to recognize the urgency of this application sorting. When an industry adopts a new technology that provides a significant cost advantage, those who tarry in adoption threaten the survivability of the entire company. Viewing cloud computing with skepticism, representing it as another turn in the centralization vs. decentralization cycle fails to comprehend how big a shift it represents in computing. Believing that one has plenty of time to maintain current practices fails to draw lessons from previous cost revolutions, and poses the threat that one"s company will become the Studebaker of today. 来源移动labs)