Why 2013 will be the year of the federated cloud

Adrian Bridgwater Advice 10 Dec, 2012

Federated cloud is one of the buzzphrases of the moment but this is not marketing hype, it's a vital part of the cloud future

Most of us associate the terms ‘federal’ or ‘federated’ with America and the federal constitutional republic that is the United States. A federation then is a union of several component parts that have been brought together and coalesced with the intention of performing a common action, cause or way of being.

Taking this very basic definition forward into hosted computing … a federated cloud describes the deployment and management of several higher-level cloud states often also combined with lower-level ancillary cloud services.

Cloud spin in waiting
As cloud federation clearly demands interoperability to function properly and the subject of open cloud standards has grabbed just an occasional passing mention during 2012, this could be the next epithet or tag upon which many cloud vendors now seek to spin and ply their wares.

Essentially cloud federation exists to bring together various types or flavours of cloud i.e. obviously public, private and hybrid. But federation also seeks to fill the cloud smorgasbord with a selection of condiments in the form of internal compute resources to suit particular workloads.

Some workloads could be internal, some could be external, others could be mission critical, others could be real-time transaction-intensive and others could be plain old normal. What matters in the federated world is that no single entity is cut off like some distant outpost such as Alaska or Hawaii.

What is a lower level cloud service?
TIBCO chief technology officer Matt Quinn explains that the central idea here is the joining together of multiple IaaS and PaaS environments in the cloud. The reasons for doing this are usually either functional, location or cost based and an application or a set of services may get a lot of flexibility here if it doesn’t need to rely upon a single vendor for support, so there is less vendor lock in.

The central idea here is the joining together of multiple IaaS and PaaS environments in the cloud

"Federated cloud could also be known as an orchestrated cloud. This is where we are not just joining up compute, storage and network services… but are also hooking up other low level cloud services (data, content delivery networks (CDNs), messaging, integration, Hadoop etc.) to meet our needs," said Quinn.

“This means that not only would we be managing the individual clouds, but we would also be orchestrating services across them. However this flexibility comes with a complexity trade-off, so our application had better be somewhat cloud-aware to make that happen, as we also have to manage multiple different SLAs and potentially different APIs too.”