Amazon.com just announced a new product called CloudFormation that allows those who use the AWS (Amazon Web Services) cloud to configure and manage resources as a single system by creating a template that describes the applications and resources that make up their system or architecture.
CloudFormation then takes care of provisioning, while taking into account any dependencies between resources, including server instances, database instances, and load balancers. The service also allows AWS users to configure and set triggers that automatically provision additional resources.
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Once again, Amazon has built its stack in the right direction. Consider the features of CloudFormation and the fact that AWS has recently been on a tear with new features and products like Elastic Beanstalk and the recent Oracle offering in its cloud.
I would not put CloudFormation into the major feature category, but the ability to cobble together aspects of a cloud, such as storage, compute, and database, means you'll be able to deal with your cloud services in a much more holistic way. Today, by contrast, you have to keep in mind all of the resources at play and make sure enough are being allocated and de-allocated in support of your system.
What we really need is a way to do this across clouds, or intercloud, so those organizations using many clouds in their system can deal with them as a virtual single bundle of resources. Such intercloud management technology should remove the underlying granular provisioning mechanisms, so developers and admins can deal with hundreds, perhaps thousands of resources as a single, well-integrated whole, even though the services are scattered all over the place on many different clouds.
The reality today and for the foreseeable future is that you cannot pick a single cloud provider as a winner and move all of your assets to its cloud service. Instead, you need to use the right cloud for right job. In many instances, that means there will be more than one cloud in your portfolio. The ability to create a layer of abstraction between developers and admins, and the underlying fine-grained complexity to support that, will be a critical success factor of distributed cloud computing. AWS's CloudFormation is a step in this direction, but it's only for the AWS cloud and not the solution we all need.
This article, "Amazon to provide 'formation' cloud computing," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog and track the latest developments in cloud computing at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.