Virtualization Pro

Nov 3 2008   5:47PM GMT

Google and Microsoft creating virtualized cloud computing data centers

Texiwill Edward Haletky Profile: Texiwill

Google and Microsoft are forming mega data centers with low energy costs and serious tax advantages by using renewable energy solutions. Each have negotiated extremely low energy costs direct with the energy providers and have created practically a zero-carbon footprint. The costs for a data center are not all about energy, although energy is a major expense. What would happen if/when a bank or federal government bought into the cloud? Surely security in a cloud computing infrastructure would need to be top of the line, thereby expensive.

The idea is that Microsoft and Google will get their energy at extremely low per-watt prices, and eventually, since they are using renewable energy sources, they may receive a few credits back from the energy providers as they sell off their excess.  They could even get state and federal subsidies and tax breaks by using renewable resources.

But what does this really mean to the virtualization world? Who will actually use these mega data centers?  I imagine part will be for Microsoft and Google themselves, but they plan on selling or renting space within their cloud for applications and services. They may sell quite a bit to the low-hanging fruit that comprises startups and other SMBs who can not afford all the modern equipment, but will they be able to sell to others?

What about security?

The big question in my mind is can you trust either Microsoft and Google from a security perspective. Cloud computing security is still up in the air. Would my bank use these new clouds? Would the federal government?

If my bank uses it, I imagine there will be extremely tight security. How much will I have to pay for this level of security? Would this level of security increase the cost so much that the benefits of low cost energy go by the way side? Security implementations cost, sometimes heavily.

Google and Microsoft may be able to reduce cloud computing energy costs, but at what other costs. If I gain part of a host due to virtualization, how much of my data is comingled on the storage devices and network paths? If a badly configured host is in use, can another company see and gain access to my data? How is this protected within the cloud? In the current virtualization world, this requires dedicated resources which are more expensive than shared resources.

Simply put, we can not ignore security going forward. What is the security and privacy guarantee — not to mention the real cost of use once these concerns have been addressed?

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