A cloud provider's guide to building multiservice cloud platforms

This cloud platform guide walks cloud providers through creating one flexible platform for multiple services, internal and external cloud uses and the necessary database analysis.

Following the initial excitement that cloud computing will change life as we know it, we’re now in the heavy-lifting phase that — over time — will make cloud services a trusted reality.

But to help enterprises, organizations and government agencies embrace the cloud for mission-critical applications rather than only for an economical test and development platform, cloud providers have to step up in a big way to design the right infrastructure, whether they’re entrenched telecom providers, newer cloud specialists or niche providers.

Challenged on many fronts to usher in the era of scalable and reliable cloud services, providers have to design an architecture and build cloud platforms that can accommodate multiple services without losing the economies of scale that made cloud services an attractive proposition in the first place.

This expert lesson on building multiservice cloud platforms like a pyramid scheme (but in a good way), by frequent contributor Tom Nolle, looks at a number of issues all cloud providers have to address, including capitalizing on a common cloud platform to build multiple services, using your cloud platform for internal and purposes and getting your cloud database strategy in order to facilitate application performance.

Here are the building blocks you need to get your cloud platform strategy up to speed.

1. Building multiple services to operate on one cloud platform

First and foremost, most cloud providers don’t have the luxury of building a cloud platform for each service they plan to offer, which means that to make the economics work for themselves and for their customers, they need to leverage their infrastructure to build multiple services to operate off one cloud platform. Using your resource pool of data centers, servers and storage devices wisely is the key to building more complex cloud services. Providers can start with basic cloud platform elements needed for Infrastructure as a Service, then build more complex cloud services including Platform as a Service, Software as a Service and beyond, on top.

Brush up on building multiple services off one cloud platform.

2. Building a cloud computing infrastructure to serve dual purposes

Moving forward, cloud providers have to remember that they are giant IT consumers themselves, and they need to benefit from their cloud infrastructure as much as any customer. Thinking outside the last-gen silo mentality, cloud providers need to move beyond supporting multiple cloud services for customers and make sure their cloud platforms function for their own internal OSS/BSS and internal IT needs. Any provider’s cloud platform has to fill the dual roles of internal IT and customer services, which means using Infrastructure as a Service architecture built on data center virtualization to benefit from the economies of scale.

Understand the dual-purpose cloud platform for internal and external use.

3. Cloud Database as a Service: Planning your DBMS strategy

To offer cloud services, cloud providers have to have an effective database strategy—otherwise customers won’t be able to get to their data. So why not consider rolling out Database as a Service at the same time, since you’ll need a cloud database strategy that won’t affect application performance anyway? Database as a Service is a good differentiator for cloud providers, but it requires careful analysis of your cloud infrastructure, your storage service model and your database management system models.

Read this article to find out if Database as a Service should be in your future.

About the author: Tom Nolle is president of CIMI Corporation, a strategic consulting firm specializing in telecommunications and data communications since 1982. He is the publisher of Netwatcher, a journal addressing advanced telecommunications strategy issues. Check out his SearchTelecom.com networking blog, Uncommon Wisdom.

This was first published in April 2011

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