Not all clouds are equal. That's a pretty obvious statement that we can all agree on. Cloud service providers offer differing levels of services, redundancy, and customer service -- all at widely varying prices.
But now that the industry is beginning to mature, we're starting to see distinct differences between cloud architectures that were designed and built during the initial boom, and those that are rolling out this year. The clouds are so different in fact, that one could even label them with the distinction of "second-generation." Let's take a look at a few of the unique characteristics that second-generation clouds exhibit.
If you've ever had to support both a private and a cloud infrastructure in a hybrid environment, you'll likely know that the integration and therefore, support of a cloud is very different from one that's privately managed. Usually, clouds have to be manually configured to closely mimic the private datacenter so that platforms, applications, and data perform similarly from an end-user perspective. The time it takes to mirror a private datacenter infrastructure structure should be seen as time wasted. To elevate this problem, new tools and cloud architectures have and are being developed that literally allow for the automated extension of a private datacenter architecture into a third-party infrastructure.
Mobility between clouds
First-generation cloud providers were trailblazers and therefore had no best-practice guidelines to follow when architecting their cloud infrastructure. One cloud could be drastically different from the next. So when your company decides to move to a new provider, the migration process becomes painful as customizations and policies that have been configured on your providers proprietary cloud design can't simply be copied over to your new cloud home. Contrast that with next generation clouds that operates on open-source platforms like OpenStack. These architectures are built on best-practices and freely available plans that allow for a universal cloud infrastructure that is interchangeable with others that follow the same designs. This eliminated the dreaded cloud provider lock-in that so many companies fear.
Cloud that solve specific problems
The first-generation of enterprise cloud service providers designed their clouds to appeal to the masses. Because of this, clouds had to be designed to support a wide array of applications and platforms. While this was a sound plan early on in the cloud adoption phase, new cloud providers are seeking to solve specific niche problems for enterprise customer. For example, here's a cloud that solves the more modern-day problem of managing BYOD without an upfront Mobile Device Management (MDM) infrastructure capital expense.
Early adopters of cloud computing have long enjoyed first-generation benefits such as infrastructure elasticity, scalability, and lowered cost. But even if you're a bit behind in the cloud migration process, take comfort in knowing that you'll be able to find a second-generation cloud that incorporates all the benefits of the first generation -- along with a plethora of new features that add incredible value.