Cloud Computing Thesis

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Introduction
Uncategorized August 6, 2010 0 Over the years many organizations have invested in massive in-house computing capacities and specialized Information Technology (IT) staff around the world in order to support their primary business processes or to achieve a competitive advantage. According to Porter and Millar IT creates competitive advantage by giving companies new ways to outperform their rivals. To gain competitive advantage over its rivals, a company must either perform these activities at al lower cost or perform them in a way that leads to differentiation and premium price (Porter & Millar, 1999). Nowadays organizations are looking for IT to operate more efficiently and help to reduce the overall costs. The concept of outsourcing has contributed to this development by transferring entire business functions to an external service provider. A recent phenomenon in the domain of outsourcing is called Cloud Computing. “Clouds are a large pool of easily usable and accessible virtualized resources (such as hardware, development platforms and/or services). These resources can be dynamically re-configured to adjust to a variable load (scale), allowing also for an optimum resource utilization. This pool of resources is typically exploited by a pay-per-use model in which guarantees are offered by the Infrastructure Provider by means of customized SLAs” (Vaquero, 2009). This means actually that more and more IT services – applications and technology – are outsourced to external vendors over the Web, which eventually will lead to a change in the traditional business model – where IT is in-house organized – to a virtual enterprise. This virtual enterprise, based on mainly Cloud services, could be the future perspective. Meanwhile organizations are looking into business process outsourcing (BPO), which involves the delegation of an entire business process to a third party provider, including its supporting services (Gewald & Dibbern, 2009). There are generally three types of IT services which an organization can outsource, namely: PaaS (platform as a service), SaaS (software as a service) and IaaS (Infrastructure as a service) (Feuerlicht & Govardhan, 2009). This research will address the most significant differences between them and provide the basic architecture and layers of the Cloud Computing model. In fact the distinction between those types of services may not be that important, the focus of the model is on the supplement, consumption and delivery for IT services based on the Internet (e.g. the Web) in a dynamically scalable way. The process of outsourcing IT services and renting ‘computing’ usage from a third party service provider means a flexible solution to the constantly changing demand of an organization. Therefore many third party service providers, also called the Cloud providers, are using the concept of “Utility

Computing”. This means, just like the principle of electricity, that you pay for the resources you actually use. This could have major consequences for the way we look at IT/IS in the future, when IT is transforming into a utility and becomes standardized, the strategic advantage for the Cloud service user might disappears as well (Radhakrishnan, Zu, & Grover, 2006). Scalability, agility, flexibility and its service/ utility cost model can be theoretically seen as the main benefits of the Cloud Computing model. Of course there are more benefits which should be taken into account. However, from a business IT demand perspective there are some ‘uncertainties’ regarding security, reliability and control for instance (Viega, 2009). SLA’s normally provide certainty concerning these matters, like they currently do in outsourcing agreements. However, are they sufficient regarding the Cloud Computing model to provide quality of service (QoS)? Moreover, what happens if a service provider suddenly goes out of business or changes its business model. There might be several other potential downsides regarding the Cloud Computing model which organizations are struggling with. However, as Cloud Computing moves beyond the pure hype stage and into the beginning of mainstream adoption, it is important to dig beyond the main Cloud term to the actual ideas and technologies to dodge the hype and take advantage of the benefits that exist (Smith, et al., 2009). This thesis will not give an answer to all of the questions mentioned above, but hopefully it will provide some assistance in the decision making process of implementing the Cloud Computing model in an organization.

In the modern world, Information and Communication Technologies are very closely integrated to form total solutions for businesses. Hence, many academic topics for dissertation and thesis research projects can comprise of problem areas addressing both these technologies when investigated in the context of corporate business solutions, solutions for government organisations and public infrastructure services. Some of the solutions in IT are widely debated because they are being claimed to be the future of computing infrastructures for IT enabled businesses. I have come across numerous white papers that attempt to establish the feasibility of these technology solutions. These white papers, mostly sponsored by original equipment manufacturers, solution providers and service providers, have been very effective in outlining the benefits of these new solutions and their high level design details such that corporate business owners have started taking interest in them. Virtualization, Cloud Computing, Green Data Centres and Unified Threat Management Solutions are four such areas for which the global vendors and service providers are actively pursuing their customers. Many customers are already running pilots in their IT infrastructure systems but the mechanism of learning from the pilots is not clearly defined and implemented. Such large scale changes in the world of IT systems and networking cannot be implemented based on ad-hoc learning from pilots given that unstructured learning approaches can lead to incorrect and biased conclusions thus causing major setbacks to the businesses. The focus should not be only on saving capital expenditure and operating costs but also on IT services, IT governance, Information Security, Compliance, Reliability, Business

Continuity, etc. In fact, the ground level implementation plans and their challenges are yet to be analysed, tested and ratified. The academic community can find numerous opportunities in establishing the validity of these new solutions. The students should focus on studying the realisation of business benefits claimed by the OEMs and Solution Providers such that the other side of picture evolves clearly. I hereby present an outline of these solutions for the benefit of students undertaking higher studies in IT systems. (a) Green Data Centres: This is also referred to as sustainable data centres by many analysts. The detailed specifications for designing and deploying green data centres have been released by many companies and independent technology analysts. The primary target of green data centres is to achieve "conservation as much as possible" - energy conservation, space conservation, cost conservation, resource conservation, etc. The designers try to implement systems that are as lean as possible. But Gartner reports have warned about threats of crossing conservation thresholds that can result in reduced performance, reduced productivity, reduced disaster recovery capability and above all, reduced capacity and flexibility to take on the business growth challenges. Unfortunately, the consulting world is closely affiliated to the OEMs and Suppliers and hence all designs and solutions are normally biased to achieve sales targets. Hence, I suggest that students should come forward and undertake dissertations and thesis research projects to study the designs, implementation plans and maintenance/running/upgrading challenges of green data centres. A number of topics can evolve especially if the studies are focussed at the local geographies where the students are residing. The reader will appreciate the fact that medium to large scale data centres require enormous power capacities that the buildings meant for office spaces cannot build to host them even if they have the requisite space for hosting the racks for network devices and servers. In my consulting assignments, I have struggled significantly to fit the equipment power ratings into the power budget provided by the building administrators. A medium to large scale data centre may require anywhere between 500 KVA to 1200 KVA (or may be more) of power capacity which is not provided by even large scale builders offering office spaces of the order of 100000 square feet per floor or more; and yes, please keep in mind that I am only talking about the data centre and not the desktops, laptops, lights, airconditioning, heating, etc. of the employee areas. With the rapid growth of businesses in the modern world of globalization, data centres can no longer be squeezed and made a bottleneck for business growth. This is, probably, the last thing upon which a business may like to compromise. Hence, Green Data Centres appear to be the solution for the future. Also, it will be well integrated with the philosophy of the Green Building revolution across the world. Every original equipment manufacturer is working towards reducing the power consumption ratings of its products. They have already done well in reducing the form factor and hence the heat dissipation of servers and network equipment, but energy conservation is still not addressed adequately. Overall, the total solutions should be a combination of energy efficient solutions and

products. In this context, virtualization is gaining significant popularity across the world. The students may like to conduct separate researches on implementation of green data centres and virtualization or else combine both of them to conduct integrated researches. (b) Virtualization Solutions: Virtualization has become the buzz word when future solutions for IT enabling of businesses are discussed. This refers to the technology in which multiple virtual machines can run on a single hardware as if they are independent computers used by independent users. Some strategists argue that virtualization is one of the key deliverables in deployment of green data centres. The products from Microsoft, VMware, and Red Hat can enable end to end implementation of virtualization solutions. Many companies have already started implementing virtual servers in their data centres hosted on blade server hardware. With all the buzz around, very few have employed structured research procedures to determine whether the self hosted virtualization solutions are able to deliver to the business as per the claims made. I suggest that the students should come forward and employ empirical techniques like Phenomenography to investigate the actual business benefits achieved by corporations by implementing in-house virtualization. A large number of topics can evolve in this problem area. The focus should be on cost reduction as well as improvement in productivity and performance of the business. Gartner reports have warned about many negative effects of virtualization if the corporate strategies, performance objectives and corporate governance/information security objectives are not included in the architectures designed by the solution providers. In the consulting assignments of ETCO India, I have observed that the business stake holders are very reluctant to accept virtualization to host their business critical solutions due to absence of proven track records and absence of empirical generalizations in the academic world. This is a very vast area for academic research. The students can create multiple virtual hosting scenarios on OPNET Modeler or similar tools and simulate the models to generate results. Additionally, the students may like to conduct case studies on Corporations, SMEs and Entrepreneurs that have already hosted their IT systems on virtual servers. The attributes to be investigated are: performance of servers after hosting multiple operating systems and applications, network traffic, user experience, possibility of virtualising IP multimedia solutions, fail over, data organization and management, information security, software delivery and licensing, auditing, IT governance, IT services, competitive advantages gained by businesses, etc. (c) Cloud Computing: This is evolving as a service facilitating IT resources on demand by virtue of applications and business services hosted on Virtual IT Infrastructures. Many OEMs have already launched cloud computing services to corporations across the world - like IBM Blue Cloud, Google Apps Cloud, Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), Microsoft Cloud, etc. These service providers claim that the customers can get any IT resource on demand - storage capacity, memory, network bandwidth, application license, etc. The market is developed to such an

extent that millions of customers are already availing these services. The students have mammoth opportunities to study the benefits of cloud computing to businesses across the world. A large number of case studies is possible because the concept has gained popularity across the globe. It needs to be investigated if the current virtualisation service providers on IT infrastructure clouds are fully ready to undertake the responsibility of running mission critical businesses (like banks, financial services, trading and investments, etc.) the way they have been running reliably in traditional data centres. It will be quite interesting for the students to conduct interviews with professionals that have already hosted their services on virtual servers. The attributes to be investigated are: Reliability, Uptime, Speed and Performance, Elasticity (resources on demand), Billing, Information Systems Strategy, IT Strategy, Information Security, IT Governance, IT Services (to end users), etc. (d) Unified Threat Management (UTM) Solutions: Unified Threat Management services framework is a new innovation in the world of Internet Service Providers using network and host based security products operating on cloud computing platforms. This framework is expected to create new waves of user expectations, service offerings, revenue models and client engagements that have not been tapped till date due to lack of empirical models. The SMEs and Corporations looking forward to transitioning their IT systems to Cloud Computing platforms can hire UTM solutions from an ISP connecting them to the Cloud Computing vendor. One can imagine AOL, AT&T or British Telecom connecting a large client with globally dispersed users to Google Apps through UTM protected networked links from client desktops/laptops to Google servers whereby all the security controls are taken care of by UTM devices implemented by these ISPs. This is an emerging area that requires enormous research efforts, especially from students. Consolidating security solutions with one service provider has many implications in terms of reliability, dependability, rate of attacks and breaches, third party (service provider) compliance to the information security policies of the customers, ownership of damages to the businesses if things go wrong, strategies to switch service providers, etc. I suggest that students should undertake studies on comparison of UTM solutions with traditional in-house security implementation of corporations from business as well as technological perspectives.

Problem statement
Uncategorized August 5, 2010 2

The history of IT in business has been a history of increased interconnectivity and interoperability, from mainframe timesharing to minicomputer-based local area networks to broader-Ethernet networks and on to the Internet. Each stage in that progression has involved greater standardization of the technology and, at least recently, greater homogenization of its functionality. For most business applications today, the benefits of customization would be overwhelmed by the costs of isolation (Carr, 2003). In the pre-Internet era organizations wrote their own applications for each process they want to automate. Soon it became clear that it would save costs when you bought a standard application form a third party supplier, like word process or e-mail applications. Later on the globalization reached its optimum, when the world became one marketplace and boundaries disappeared, organizations discovered the principle of outsourcing business functions to the other side of the word. Main drivers behind this process would be operational efficiency and cost reduction. The arrival of the Internet has accelerated the commoditization of IT by providing a perfect delivery channel for generic applications. More and more, companies will fulfill their IT requirements simply by applying pay-as-go utility models, infrastructure services with value added platform services or fee-based infrastructure services with value-added application services (Zhang & Zhou, 2009). In essence, users of Cloud Computing “outsource” their data processing needs to a third-party (Jaeger, Lin, & Grimes, 2008). Thus, the computing world is rapidly transforming towards developing software for millions to consume as a service, rather than to run on their individual computers (Buyya, 2008). According to Gartner Cloud services will lead to the use of new business models (service aggregators, integrators, brokers, franchisee) and favor the growth of sourcing models based on multiple service providers, like selective sourcing and prime contractor/ service integrators (Gartner(c), 2009). So Cloud Computing is going to change the way IT is organized and will definitely have an effect on every organization that is using IT. The principle of Cloud Computing is perhaps clear in theory; the question is how this phenomenon can be adopted in practice.

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