Government private clouds in .NET

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Government private clouds
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As our final private cloud example, let s look at the government sector. In September 2009, the federal CIO, Vivek Kunda, announced the launch of a government cloud initiative. The aim of this initiative was to save money by reducing the cost of government data centers while simultaneously maintaining a high level of security.
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Private clouds in practice
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The federal government has an annual IT budget of over $75 billion. Kunda stated, We need a new model to lower costs and innovate. The government should solve problems, not run data centers. For nonsecret applications, there s a push toward using public-cloud-powered solutions to reduce cost. The Apps.govwebsite ( http:// apps.gov) allows sourcing of cloud-provided technologies by government agencies (see figure 4.10). In the case of applications that require secrecy, private clouds are also under development. In October 2008, the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA), which operates under the Department of Defense (DoD), launched a private cloud military application called the Rapid Access Computing Environment (RACE). The RACE platform is the military version of Amazon s AWS. It streamlines the acquisition, customization, and provisioning of computing resources, bringing up test and development environments in 24 hours and true production environments in 72 hours.
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Figure 4.10 The federal government is proceeding headlong into using public cloud services as a means of reducing costs. On the Apps.gov website, SaaS and cloud-based offerings can be purchased with a government credit card and the appropriate approvals.
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Security and the private cloud
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Computing resources run on a LAMP stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) and are available in both Linux and Windows environments, with configurations of 1 4 CPUs, 1 8 GB RAM, and 60 GB to 1 TB of SAN storage. As in the case of a public cloud, these resources are offered in a pay-as-you-go model on a monthly basis, with pricing starting at $500/instance/month, and can be purchased with a government credit card.
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The long-term viability of private clouds
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As you ve seen throughout this chapter, private cloud computing is a burgeoning area, and in some cases deployments of this kind make sense today. Such a deployment requires a lot of existing investment in data centers. Also, best IT practices as they relate to security in the public cloud haven t been entirely worked out. As these best practices are worked out over the next several years, it remains an open question whether the private cloud will become a pervasive phenomenon. It may be useful to think of cloud computing in the context of the way electric power is generated and consumed today. In his book The Big Switch, Nicholas Carr describes how in the 18th century, companies used waterwheels to generate their own electricity. Waterwheels and expertise in generating electricity for factories were considered competitive differentiators. As public utilities reached scale, it was no longer a competitive differentiator to maintain your own waterwheel. In fact, doing so became a potential liability as electricity provided through the electric grid by dedicated electric utilities became more cost-effective than generators. Electric power generation outside of public electric utilities didn t disappear entirely: companies and governments maintain their own power-generation capabilities as necessary in the form of backup generators in hospitals and factories as well as generators in field operations on the battlefield or to power cruise ships or nuclear submarines. In the same way, you might expect that in a decade or so, there will still be instances of private clouds, but they will become less and less prevalent. The challenge for companies that have private clouds is to understand whether it continues to make sense to have them or whether ultimately they should migrate to a public cloud.
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Summary
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Security remains the single biggest fear factor for larger organizations considering a major move to the cloud. This chapter delved into security in general, discussed how it s being practiced by major cloud providers, and examined the case for and against private clouds. Private cloud computing is a potential alternative deployment option available and may make sense for large enterprises and organizations. For organizations with enough scale, buying power, and expertise, private clouds offer the advantages of increased control, predictability, and security. You have many options available, including building a private cloud from open-source technologies, using proprietary purpose-built solutions, and partnering with service providers willing to allocate or
Summary
partition dedicated resources for a private cloud. We also discussed a variant of the private cloud the virtual private cloud and explained how it works, what it s good for, and how to use it. We finished with a survey of private clouds in practice. Looking at things from the perspective of the cloud provider, let s return to examining the cloud from the perspective of a cloud user. In chapter 5, you ll learn how applications should be designed and architected for the cloud (either public or private).
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