Welcome!

@CloudExpo Authors: Liz McMillan, Dalibor Siroky, James Carlini, John Walsh, APM Blog

Related Topics: @CloudExpo

@CloudExpo: Blog Feed Post

Could Cloud Exchanges Work For Storage?

Interoperability, security, and inertia threaten to derail this new concept before it starts

CNET's Gordon Haff wrote a great piece on the shortcomings of the exchange model for cloud computing. His prognosis is right there in his title: "Why cloud exchanges won't work."

I've done some thinking and writing on the topic, and it's easy to see Haff's point: Interoperability, security, and inertia threaten to derail this new concept before it starts.

Shortcomings of the Exchange Model

Haff's concept is centered on the following three simple qualifiers for cloud exchanges:

  1. Any platform involved in an exchange must be compatible, allowing a workload to seamlessly move between interoperable systems. This is both critical and absent with many of the cloud computing services available today. Most are incompatible on a basic level, using different hypervisors for example. No cloud exchange can seamlessly move an EC2 Xen instance to a Terremark VMware environment, although Rightscale is working on clever translation systems.
  2. Not all service providers are equal when it comes to security and compliance, either. I've often bemoaned the fact that so many service providers are not enterprise-ready, and this will be even more of an issue with an intermediary deciding where to run a particular job. How can a buyer be sure his workload will be safe?
  3. Haff also points out that a compelling service must be cost-effective, and certain elements stand in the way of this. He questions the value economies of scale will bring to very-large service providers. He also wisely points out that additional costs to move supporting stored data could derail the return on investment

These are not intractable problems, but they are real concerns. The issue of portability is especially thorny for cloud computing, as vendors focus more on basic functionality and innovative features than compatibility. Yet one can envision a future in which even these issues are resolved: Haff worries about service providers moving "up the stack", but this is exactly where compatibility is likely to emerge. It is easier for me to imagine a number of interoperable Java or .NET platforms than truly compatible Xen environments!

It also seems that the current efforts to define cloud service description and provisioning APIs addresses many of these concerns. If a standard API could specify compatibility, the network environment, and security requirements, an exchange could offer a wide variety of service providers with these capabilities. I imagine an airline model, where not every airport is served by every airline, but there is enough competition even at the fringes to keep the resellers viable.

I am also much less concerned about return on investment than Haff. I have seen amazing economies of scale achieved at Nirvanix (where I am Director of Consulting) and can imagine these in many areas. Cloud service providers are driving cost out of many areas by standardizing and centralizing management operation and provisioning as well as hardware and environmental costs. As cloud providers set up shop in super-efficient data centers and train highly focused management staff, they are likely to surpass the economies of even the largest abd best-run end user environment.

What About Storage?

As I wrote in December, spot pricing for cloud storage is much less attractive due to the sheer inertia of data. But an exchange model might actually be attractive even after this is taken into account. The major public cloud storage providers have already moved up from the infrastructure (bytes and blocks) to the platform (object) level, though the "ammo provider" private cloud market remains focused on the former. And many efforts are already underway to create basic standard interfaces for both provisioning and access across these major vendors.

Let's take Haff's concerns in order:

  1. Interoperability of cloud storage is likely to come well before compute thanks to the more constrained workload involved. While a compute platform could be asked to perform almost any task, storage in general is focused on a simple usage model sometimes called CRUD: Data is created, read, updated, and deleted. This has already led to a proliferation of pre-standard or de-facto standard generic interfaces to multiple cloud storage services. SNIA's rapid work on a standard cloud data management interface shows that interoperable public cloud storage isn't that far off.
  2. Security and compliance is much less standardized among private and public cloud storage providers. I believe that all enterprise-focused public cloud storage providers should focus their efforts on offering solid, reliable, and secure systems, but this has clearly not been the case universally. And although efforts like the SNIA CDMI would standardize provisioning of services, we will need a much more robust vocabulary to specify the level of security and compliance required for a specific application. But not every application is right for cloud storage anyway. Surely a minimum standard for security can be agreed upon by multiple providers, allowing at least some bulky applications to use cloud storage without worry. We will eventually develop a more complete mechanism which will allow more sensitive applications to use a cloud exchange.
  3. Cost effectiveness is another thorny issue. Public cloud storage for the enterprise isn't a race to the bottom in terms of cost; it has to be about more than just cheap capacity. Indeed, the public cloud storage market is already splitting into three categories: Cheap personal storage and backup, inexpensive storage for developers and web applications, and feature-rich enterprise-grade offerings for businesses. But cost will always be a factor, and cloud storage must prove its value. An exchange that resulted in higher prices or surprise fees to move data wouldn't be a success. This last is worth noting: Since moving storage between providers will always require time and costly bandwidth, I expect such an exchange to focus on net-new data, not migration of existing capacity to a cheaper provider.

Cloud storage is significantly different from cloud compute, and spot pricing and exchanges might make more sense for data. Indeed, many of the concerns voiced by CNET's Haff are less troubling in the storage world. But the issue of return on investment remains: Could a business cost-effectively use varying cloud storage providers? I suspect some will soon set up shop and try to find out!

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Stephen Foskett

Stephen Foskett has provided vendor-independent end user consulting on storage topics for over 10 years. He has been a storage columnist and has authored numerous articles for industry publications. Stephen is a popular presenter at industry events and recently received Microsoft’s MVP award for contributions to the enterprise storage community. As the director of consulting for Nirvanix, Foskett provides strategic consulting to assist Fortune 500 companies in developing strategies for service-based tiered and cloud storage. He holds a bachelor of science in Society/Technology Studies, from Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@CloudExpo Stories
DX World EXPO, LLC, a Lighthouse Point, Florida-based startup trade show producer and the creator of "DXWorldEXPO® - Digital Transformation Conference & Expo" has announced its executive management team. The team is headed by Levent Selamoglu, who has been named CEO. "Now is the time for a truly global DX event, to bring together the leading minds from the technology world in a conversation about Digital Transformation," he said in making the announcement.
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Conference Guru has been named “Media Sponsor” of the 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. A valuable conference experience generates new contacts, sales leads, potential strategic partners and potential investors; helps gather competitive intelligence and even provides inspiration for new products and services. Conference Guru works with conference organizers to pass great deals to gre...
DevOps is under attack because developers don’t want to mess with infrastructure. They will happily own their code into production, but want to use platforms instead of raw automation. That’s changing the landscape that we understand as DevOps with both architecture concepts (CloudNative) and process redefinition (SRE). Rob Hirschfeld’s recent work in Kubernetes operations has led to the conclusion that containers and related platforms have changed the way we should be thinking about DevOps and...
In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, led attendees through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He looked at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering m...
The next XaaS is CICDaaS. Why? Because CICD saves developers a huge amount of time. CD is an especially great option for projects that require multiple and frequent contributions to be integrated. But… securing CICD best practices is an emerging, essential, yet little understood practice for DevOps teams and their Cloud Service Providers. The only way to get CICD to work in a highly secure environment takes collaboration, patience and persistence. Building CICD in the cloud requires rigorous ar...
Companies are harnessing data in ways we once associated with science fiction. Analysts have access to a plethora of visualization and reporting tools, but considering the vast amount of data businesses collect and limitations of CPUs, end users are forced to design their structures and systems with limitations. Until now. As the cloud toolkit to analyze data has evolved, GPUs have stepped in to massively parallel SQL, visualization and machine learning.
"Evatronix provides design services to companies that need to integrate the IoT technology in their products but they don't necessarily have the expertise, knowledge and design team to do so," explained Adam Morawiec, VP of Business Development at Evatronix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Jack Norris, Senior Vice President, Data and Applications at MapR Technologies, reviewed best practices to ...
"ZeroStack is a startup in Silicon Valley. We're solving a very interesting problem around bringing public cloud convenience with private cloud control for enterprises and mid-size companies," explained Kamesh Pemmaraju, VP of Product Management at ZeroStack, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Large industrial manufacturing organizations are adopting the agile principles of cloud software companies. The industrial manufacturing development process has not scaled over time. Now that design CAD teams are geographically distributed, centralizing their work is key. With large multi-gigabyte projects, outdated tools have stifled industrial team agility, time-to-market milestones, and impacted P&L stakeholders.
Enterprises are adopting Kubernetes to accelerate the development and the delivery of cloud-native applications. However, sharing a Kubernetes cluster between members of the same team can be challenging. And, sharing clusters across multiple teams is even harder. Kubernetes offers several constructs to help implement segmentation and isolation. However, these primitives can be complex to understand and apply. As a result, it’s becoming common for enterprises to end up with several clusters. Thi...
"Infoblox does DNS, DHCP and IP address management for not only enterprise networks but cloud networks as well. Customers are looking for a single platform that can extend not only in their private enterprise environment but private cloud, public cloud, tracking all the IP space and everything that is going on in that environment," explained Steve Salo, Principal Systems Engineer at Infoblox, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventio...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, James Henry, Co-CEO/CTO of Calgary Scientific Inc., introduced you to the challenges, solutions and benefits of training AI systems to solve visual problems with an emphasis on improving AIs with continuous training in the field. He explored applications in several industries and discussed technologies that allow the deployment of advanced visualization solutions to the cloud.
The question before companies today is not whether to become intelligent, it’s a question of how and how fast. The key is to adopt and deploy an intelligent application strategy while simultaneously preparing to scale that intelligence. In her session at 21st Cloud Expo, Sangeeta Chakraborty, Chief Customer Officer at Ayasdi, provided a tactical framework to become a truly intelligent enterprise, including how to identify the right applications for AI, how to build a Center of Excellence to oper...
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Carl J. Levine, Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1, will objectively discuss how DNS is used to solve Digital Transformation challenges in large SaaS applications, CDNs, AdTech platforms, and other demanding use cases. Carl J. Levine is the Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1. A veteran of the Internet Infrastructure space, he has over a decade of experience with startups, networking protocols and Internet infrastructure, combined with the unique ability to it...
22nd International Cloud Expo, taking place June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and co-located with the 1st DXWorld Expo will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud ...
"Cloud Academy is an enterprise training platform for the cloud, specifically public clouds. We offer guided learning experiences on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and all the surrounding methodologies and technologies that you need to know and your teams need to know in order to leverage the full benefits of the cloud," explained Alex Brower, VP of Marketing at Cloud Academy, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clar...
Gemini is Yahoo’s native and search advertising platform. To ensure the quality of a complex distributed system that spans multiple products and components and across various desktop websites and mobile app and web experiences – both Yahoo owned and operated and third-party syndication (supply), with complex interaction with more than a billion users and numerous advertisers globally (demand) – it becomes imperative to automate a set of end-to-end tests 24x7 to detect bugs and regression. In th...