Welcome!

@CloudExpo Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Craig Lowell, Dan Potter, Greg O'Connor

Related Topics: IoT User Interface, IBM Cloud, @CloudExpo

IoT User Interface: Blog Post

Cloud Computing and Virtual Images

A look at several different cloud computing solutions will reveal a technological enabler present in almost each one

Cloud Expo on Ulitzer

A look at several different cloud computing solutions will reveal a technological enabler present in almost each one. The enabler I'm talking about is the use of virtual images. I cannot think of many, if any, cloud computing solutions that provide software elements (i.e. more than just servers, storage, memory, etc.) that do not use virtual images in some form or fashion.

Of course, one of the reasons virtual images form the backbone of many cloud solutions is obvious. Virtual images provide the benefits of server virtualization. We can activate many virtual images on the same physical machine, thus allowing us to achieve multi-tenancy (multiple operating systems and software stacks installed on the same physical machine). Besides driving higher hardware utilization rates, it also provides us the capability to run heterogeneous software environments on the same piece of hardware. This both enables and encourages the creation of a shared pool of compute resources which is a key characteristic of cloud computing environments.

Server virtualization may be the first thing that comes to mind when we think about virtual images, but at least in the context of cloud computing, I do not believe this is the most important benefit. If we are looking at cloud computing as a means to quickly and consistently provision software environments, then I think virtual images provide us a capability and benefit more valuable than server virtualization. In this respect, virtual images provide us a medium through which we can templatize the configuration of our software environments.

Consider the case of a fairly basic application serving environment. In this environment, you are likely to install an operating system, application server, and probably some type of load balancing solution. Each of these typically requires a different piece of software, different installation procedures, and finally integration with the other components. Installing these into a typical environment, without the use of virtual images, means that you either have scripts that account for each different piece of software and finally integration of the different components, or it means that a person manually installs and integrates the pieces each time you need an environment. Either process can be time-consuming and costly to maintain over time.

Enter the use of virtual images. With a virtual image, you can install and integrate all three components ONE time, and then capture the resultant environment as a virtual image. At this point, when an application environment is needed, the virtual image can simply be activated on top of a hypervisor platform. The application environment is typically available in a much more timely fashion than if manually installed or integrated because the installation and configuration have already been captured in the virtual image.

From what I described above, you may have caught on to what would seem like a drawback of using virtual images to templatize software environments. Specifically, it may seem that you need a distinct virtual image for every unique configuration of your application environment. If this were the case, management of your virtual image library would soon become a nightmare and the resulting cost (in both resource and time) would likely outweigh the original benefits. However, thanks to a relatively new standards-based approach to virtual images, this is not necessarily a problem.

The standard I'm talking about is the Open Virtualization Format (OVF) standard which has been published by the Distributed Management Task Force (DMTF). According to the OVF standard, it "describes an open, secure, portable, efficient and extensible format for the packaging and distribution of software to be run in virtual machines." In particular to our discussion here, there is a part of the standard that describes the use of an ovf-env.xml file within the virtual image.

This file is essentially a key-value style XML file that describes desired aspects of the environment. Keys and values can be supplied during image activation, and configurations scripts that run during virtual image activation can read information from the file and react appropriately. Thus, instead of supplying N different virtual images for N different software environments, you can supply 1 virtual image and utilize the ovf-env.xml file in conjunction with configuration scripts within the image to produce N different environments. The use of this mechanism with virtual images delivers the capability to templatize software environments without sacrificing flexibility or encouraging unsustainable virtual image proliferation.

In WebSphere, we utilize the model outlined in the OVF standard when packaging our WebSphere Application Server Hypervisor Edition virtual images. This allows our WebSphere CloudBurst product to provision these images and create many different types of WebSphere Application Server environments from a single virtual image (read this article for more information). I expect the use of this standard and the mechanisms it provides will become pretty prevalent in the near future. Now if we could just get to the point where virtual disk formats are standardized, but that's an entirely different topic.

More Stories By Dustin Amrhein

Dustin Amrhein joined IBM as a member of the development team for WebSphere Application Server. While in that position, he worked on the development of Web services infrastructure and Web services programming models. In his current role, Dustin is a technical specialist for cloud, mobile, and data grid technology in IBM's WebSphere portfolio. He blogs at http://dustinamrhein.ulitzer.com. You can follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/damrhein.

@CloudExpo Stories
With so much going on in this space you could be forgiven for thinking you were always working with yesterday’s technologies. So much change, so quickly. What do you do if you have to build a solution from the ground up that is expected to live in the field for at least 5-10 years? This is the challenge we faced when we looked to refresh our existing 10-year-old custom hardware stack to measure the fullness of trash cans and compactors.
The emerging Internet of Everything creates tremendous new opportunities for customer engagement and business model innovation. However, enterprises must overcome a number of critical challenges to bring these new solutions to market. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Martin, CTO/CIO at nfrastructure, outlined these key challenges and recommended approaches for overcoming them to achieve speed and agility in the design, development and implementation of Internet of Everything solutions wi...
Cloud computing is being adopted in one form or another by 94% of enterprises today. Tens of billions of new devices are being connected to The Internet of Things. And Big Data is driving this bus. An exponential increase is expected in the amount of information being processed, managed, analyzed, and acted upon by enterprise IT. This amazing is not part of some distant future - it is happening today. One report shows a 650% increase in enterprise data by 2020. Other estimates are even higher....
Why do your mobile transformations need to happen today? Mobile is the strategy that enterprise transformation centers on to drive customer engagement. In his general session at @ThingsExpo, Roger Woods, Director, Mobile Product & Strategy – Adobe Marketing Cloud, covered key IoT and mobile trends that are forcing mobile transformation, key components of a solid mobile strategy and explored how brands are effectively driving mobile change throughout the enterprise.
With over 720 million Internet users and 40–50% CAGR, the Chinese Cloud Computing market has been booming. When talking about cloud computing, what are the Chinese users of cloud thinking about? What is the most powerful force that can push them to make the buying decision? How to tap into them? In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Yu Hao, CEO and co-founder of SpeedyCloud, answered these questions and discussed the results of SpeedyCloud’s survey.
Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more business becomes digital the more stakeholders are interested in this data including how it relates to business. Some of these people have never used a monitoring tool before. They have a question on their mind like “How is my application doing” but no id...
DevOps at Cloud Expo, taking place Nov 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long dev...
Identity is in everything and customers are looking to their providers to ensure the security of their identities, transactions and data. With the increased reliance on cloud-based services, service providers must build security and trust into their offerings, adding value to customers and improving the user experience. Making identity, security and privacy easy for customers provides a unique advantage over the competition.
Qosmos has announced new milestones in the detection of encrypted traffic and in protocol signature coverage. Qosmos latest software can accurately classify traffic encrypted with SSL/TLS (e.g., Google, Facebook, WhatsApp), P2P traffic (e.g., BitTorrent, MuTorrent, Vuze), and Skype, while preserving the privacy of communication content. These new classification techniques mean that traffic optimization, policy enforcement, and user experience are largely unaffected by encryption. In respect wit...
SYS-CON Events announced today that StarNet Communications will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. StarNet Communications’ FastX is the industry first cloud-based remote X Windows emulator. Using standard Web browsers (FireFox, Chrome, Safari, etc.) users from around the world gain highly secure access to applications and data hosted on Linux-based servers in a central data center. ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that 910Telecom will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Housed in the classic Denver Gas & Electric Building, 910 15th St., 910Telecom is a carrier-neutral telecom hotel located in the heart of Denver. Adjacent to CenturyLink, AT&T, and Denver Main, 910Telecom offers connectivity to all major carriers, Internet service providers, Internet backbones and ...
Traditional on-premises data centers have long been the domain of modern data platforms like Apache Hadoop, meaning companies who build their business on public cloud were challenged to run Big Data processing and analytics at scale. But recent advancements in Hadoop performance, security, and most importantly cloud-native integrations, are giving organizations the ability to truly gain value from all their data. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, David Tishgart, Director of Product Marketing ...
StarNet Communications Corp has announced the addition of three Secure Remote Desktop modules to its flagship X-Win32 PC X server. The new modules enable X-Win32 to safely tunnel the remote desktops from Linux and Unix servers to the user’s PC over encrypted SSH. Traditionally, users of PC X servers deploy the XDMCP protocol to display remote desktop environments such as the Gnome and KDE desktops on Linux servers and the CDE environment on Solaris Unix machines. XDMCP is used primarily on comp...
Almost two-thirds of companies either have or soon will have IoT as the backbone of their business in 2016. However, IoT is far more complex than most firms expected. How can you not get trapped in the pitfalls? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Tony Shan, a renowned visionary and thought leader, will introduce a holistic method of IoTification, which is the process of IoTifying the existing technology and business models to adopt and leverage IoT. He will drill down to the components in this fra...
DevOps at Cloud Expo – being held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA – announces that its Call for Papers is open. Born out of proven success in agile development, cloud computing, and process automation, DevOps is a macro trend you cannot afford to miss. From showcase success stories from early adopters and web-scale businesses, DevOps is expanding to organizations of all sizes, including the world's largest enterprises – and delivering real results. Am...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 19th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devices - comp...
As the world moves toward more DevOps and Microservices, application deployment to the cloud ought to become a lot simpler. The Microservices architecture, which is the basis of many new age distributed systems such as OpenStack, NetFlix and so on, is at the heart of Cloud Foundry - a complete developer-oriented Platform as a Service (PaaS) that is IaaS agnostic and supports vCloud, OpenStack and AWS. Serverless computing is revolutionizing computing. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Raghav...
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, a director and senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, will discuss the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
There is growing need for data-driven applications and the need for digital platforms to build these apps. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Muddu Sudhakar, VP and GM of Security & IoT at Splunk, will cover different PaaS solutions and Big Data platforms that are available to build applications. In addition, AI and machine learning are creating new requirements that developers need in the building of next-gen apps. The next-generation digital platforms have some of the past platform needs a...
Fact: storage performance problems have only gotten more complicated, as applications not only have become largely virtualized, but also have moved to cloud-based infrastructures. Storage performance in virtualized environments isn’t just about IOPS anymore. Instead, you need to guarantee performance for individual VMs, helping applications maintain performance as the number of VMs continues to go up in real time. In his session at Cloud Expo, Dhiraj Sehgal, Product and Marketing at Tintri, wil...