In an interesting paper in the IBM Journal of Research and Development, the concept of a federated cloud model is introduced. This model is one in which computing infrastructure providers can join together to create a federated cloud. The advantages pointed out in the article include cost savings due to not over provisioning for spikes in capacity demand. To me the biggest advantage of this federated model is the lack of reliance on a single vendor and likely higher availability due to greater distribution of computing resources across different infrastructure. One of our primary aversions to a complete cloud hosting solution is the reliance on a single vendor for the entire availability of your site. A true federated cloud would eliminate this issue.
However, as the article aptly points out there are many obstacles in the way of achieving such a federated cloud. Not the least of which are technical challenges to architect applications in such a modular manner as to be able to start and stop components in different clouds as demand requires. Other issues include administrative control and monitoring of multiple clouds and security concerns over allowing direct access to hypervisors by other cloud providers.
As we’ve prognosticated, pure VM based clouds like AWS have had to offer dedicated servers for those high intensity IO systems like large relational databases. We’ve also predicted that with double digit growth in cloud services predicted for the next several years, providers will resist the commoditization of their offerings through service differentiation. This attempt at differentiation will come in the form of add-on features and simplification across the entire PDLC. This unfortunately makes the likelihood of a federated cloud offering happening in the next couple of years very unlikely.