Cloud Management Tools offer a service catalog of computing, data storage and network resource pools of all clouds that are accessible by means of the Open Virtualization Format (OVF) standard. This catalogue can be used to describe deployment policies that define the quality of service, capacity and the security of large computing complexes.
Cloud Management Tools make possible the creation of a “Virtual Data Center” that can embrace hundreds of diverse Software-as-a-Service, Infrastructure-as-a-Services and Platform-as-a-Service offerings. It creates a catalog from which a wide range of services can be selected and then automatically provisioned.
IT personnel without expertise in detailed coding and even technology-savvy business users have the skills necessary to use the Cloud Management Tools. Bringing the business user closer to the IT provisioning process make the Cloud Management Tools a significant enhancement in the management of business systems. The Cloud Management Tools will turn IT into an easy provisioning platform that meets business computing needs without the lag time and complexities that have so far been associated with the acquisition of dedicated computer assets.
Under the Cloud Management Tools, the diverse physical infrastructures that are listed in the cloud catalogue can be viewed and shared in a multitenant, isolated fashion by departments or outside organizations that need not know about each other. The result is a cloud resource that can be seen either as private or as public as a customer wishes. The Cloud Management Tools enable a wide range of service providers or affiliated IT departments to create the appearance that they are delivering services that are directly available, even though the services are assembled as a hybrid offering from several sources, including third party applications.
For example, an organization, such as the Navy, can set up a Private Secure Cloud with its own infrastructure as well as an application platform. As long as affiliated organizations, such as the Army and the Air Force remain interoperable, the entire Department of Defense can be seen as a cooperating organization. However, DoD cannot be self-contained and self-sufficient. It must increasingly draw on the suppliers’ Secure Private Clouds, which can provide DoD with Software-as-a-Service. This would require full compliance by all parties with standards, such as OVF.
DoD will also have to access Secure Public Clouds, which operate their own platforms but would also have to be interoperable. Ultimately there will be thousands of public clouds needed to support DoD operating requirements, such as provided by FedEx, Wal-Mart, banks, travel agencies, airlines, food suppliers and health providers.
Security comes in the form of several offerings that must be tightly coupled with Cloud Management Tools, which can certify security assurance for every external connection. A variety of commercial security tools are available for use as centrally administrated virtual appliances or services. In the case of every connection to an external cloud IT managers will have to ensure that all connections and particularly access to public clouds, can be protected and isolated with technology that is an integral part of the virtualization infrastructure.
With the availability of Cloud Management Tools, as the master control mechanism over a firm's collection of clouds, the computer industry has entered into a new era of how to organize its computing. One can compare the recent availability of the Cloud Management Tools with the introduction of the pervasive Microsoft Windows Operating System in 1981. Over a period of over twenty-five years the Microsoft OS enabled users to abstract the management of personal computers from personal involvement with the technically difficult controls of increasingly complex hardware features. The dominance of the Microsoft OS is now vanishing, to be increasingly displaced by Hypervisors, which are making it possible to abstract the management of hardware and software from direct user interventions.
Over the next decade the current focus of IT executives will pass primarily from the management of physical assets to an emphasis on the choices of cloud services. IT executive will concentrate on taking advantage of the universal “Cloud” which views all computing not as dedicated fixed assets, but as an accessible utility which delivers computer capacity as well as application services as a demand-driven variable cost. Cloud Management Tools should be therefore seen as a meta-operating system that makes it possible for any organization to draw on all available global IT resources. Cloud Management Tools are therefore the precursor of new ways how to deliver computing in the decades to come.
Corporate IT departments will ultimately split into the physical side and the user side, with separate organizations and budgets for each. The physical side will continue to own and operate the private cloud hardware and communications in a firm's data center. For example, the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) will perform in this role for DoD. DISA will deliver secure raw capacity, published as a commodity offering with guaranteed levels of security, service levels and transaction pricing. Local administrative management will continue to be responsible for LANs and desktops, including thin clients.
The user side will increasingly use self-service tools to deploy applications from published catalogs based on policies, service levels, and pricing. Users will be able to choose between internal and externally hosted capacity on the basis of competitive pricing that will lower the cost computing because of the huge economies of scale that cloud service providers will enjoy.