Red Hat CloudForms Infrastructure-as-a-Service: Build Clouds Without Limits
Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) is about delivering self-service infrastructure— which is to say resources like compute, storage, and networking—to users in a managed, governed, and secure way. Many organizations are getting into cloud computing by building a private1 IaaS cloud that lets them maintain more direct control over their infrastructure than would be possible with a public cloud provider—although many are interested in also making use of shared, public resources over time.
A complete IaaS product, such as Red Hat CloudForms, can deliver significant advantages to organizations. Such a product allows IT infrastructure teams— typically those with mid-sized to large IT operations—to build and manage clouds that reduce the complexity resulting from virtualization and diverse business requirements—by automating compute resource management. However, IaaS is about more than just resource management. In addition to providing self-service consumption of applications, it is—or should be—also about making sure that consumption is secured and governed. Only by doing all these things can an IaaS fully deliver on promises such as increased business agility, efficiency, innovation, and simplified IT management.
Fundamentally, what’s happening here is that automated resource management solves virtualization challenges that threaten to erect new IT silos even as the old ones imposed by physical servers, storage, and networking are
being torn down. Automated resource management does this by reducing virtual machine sprawl through self-service and lifecycle management, managing multiple hypervisors, and managing multiple clusters of virtualization. Not all IaaS products embody these characteristics, but those that do address these challenges. At the same time, automated workflow and policies enable the management of a diverse set of business applications by abstracting where things run and how they run from the user requesting the service.
There are a variety of IaaS offerings in the market, all of which have some number of the following capabilities. However, the greatest value comes from enabling organizations to build IaaS clouds that have all of them.
Portability across Hybrid Environments
Maintaining portability across technology stacks and deployment options delivers the greatest value and minimal risk for an organization. This requires consistent runtimes and operating environments that can be deployed across physical servers, virtualization platforms from multiple vendors, private clouds, and public clouds. This requires a cloud solution that enables portability across multiple dimensions including application programming interfaces, cloud services, and target environments.
Manage Image and App lication Compliance Throughout Complete Lifecycle
Maintaining compliance with security and other policies requires both content management and runtime management within running instances. Compliance can’t be a one-shot thing only checked when “golden images” are first created. “Continuous compliance” is the only way to minimize the drift that causes applications to deviate from established IT security and other policies and create risk to the organization as a result.
By including cloud services, of which storage is the most familiar, an IaaS solution provides organizations with the technologies needed to implement commonly used application features—and therefore avoid the need to reinvent such capabilities. Cloud services are also one of the mechanisms that maintain portability across multiple clouds.
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