The Unified Cloud Platform - What It Is and Why It's Important
First-Generation Cloud Platforms - Single-Service Platforms
Technology evolution is a wonderful thing. In general, this evolution is not a "straight line" over time. It's more gradual, then Bam!, then gradual, and then Bam! When Salesforce.com introduced cloud services to the IT world back in the mid-2000s with its cloud CRM platform, a Bam! was heard around the world. Cloud CRM changed the way companies implemented their CRM service, moving them away from up-front, capital-intensive, on-premises solutions to outsourcing to the cloud. Over the next 10 years, start-up and larger companies raced to deliver cloud services to businesses eager to exploit the benefits of the cloud. During those 10 years, the gradual evolution of the cloud industry progressed, with individual vendors offering cloud services and extolling the virtues of their single-service solution.
Second-Generation Cloud Platforms - Dawn of the Unified Cloud Platform
As IT departments start migrating multiple services to the cloud, a new generation of cloud service providers emerged. Unified Cloud Service Providers offer Unified Cloud Platforms (UCP) that deliver multiple cloud services through one common infrastructure.
What constitutes a UCP? They all have the following attributes:
- Common back-end services - UCPs have a common portal for back-end services, unifying all administration, billing, reporting, and analytics for each cloud service, thus greatly simplifying administration of all services across the board.
- Consistent front-end interfaces - UCPs provide common interfaces such as single secure logins, single mobile app installations, single user setup portals, and common contact management.
- Common user/group management - This is a key feature of UCPs. Managing users and groups within an enterprise across multiple IT services can be daunting at best, especially when groups are dynamic and users are added or deleted frequently. UCPs provide a central user/group management feature that all services interact with, making group changes simple and quick.
- Single highly reliable, secure, and scalable cloud infrastructure - UCPs run all cloud services on a single cloud infrastructure so consistent service attributes are maintained, costs are lowered, and monitoring of the services is simplified. As a result, theinfrastructure is highly reliable, secure and scalable.
- Multi-service QoS - UCPs can implement inter-service QoS management to maintain service quality over all the services in the cloud that are vying for the same network resources.
Why are UCPs an important step forward in the UC industry? Here are some things to keep in mind:
Better utilization of the cloud means lower costs - UCP's single common infrastructure implementation means lower operational costs for the service provider, which translates to lower costs for enterprises and increases market reach.
Common service attributes mean higher quality of service - Sharing resource-requirement information across services means the quality of service for every service is maximized. This will result in a higher level of overall QoS across all cloud services and will significantly reduce "service dropouts" due to one service demanding excessive resources.
Common infrastructure means faster development and deployment of new services - With a common cloud infrastructure, UCPs will allow cloud service providers to develop common back-end services once for all IT services, thus accelerating cloud service development and deployment. A common cloud infrastructure also means less implementation complexity, further accelerating development and deployment of new features.
UCPs will accelerate cloud adoption - UCPs will further accelerate cloud adoption by delivering more consistent and higher levels of security, reliability, and scalability, all of which are top of mind for enterprise IT departments as they consider moving multiple services to the cloud.
Arthur G. Chang is CEO of PanTerra Networks.