@CloudExpo Authors: Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz, Pat Romanski, Nitin Donde

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
Kubernetes is an open source system for automating deployment, scaling, and management of containerized applications. Kubernetes was originally built by Google, leveraging years of experience with managing container workloads, and is now a Cloud Native Compute Foundation (CNCF) project. Kubernetes has been widely adopted by the community, supported on all major public and private cloud providers, and is gaining rapid adoption in enterprises. However, Kubernetes may seem intimidating and complex ...
While the focus and objectives of IoT initiatives are many and diverse, they all share a few common attributes, and one of those is the network. Commonly, that network includes the Internet, over which there isn't any real control for performance and availability. Or is there? The current state of the art for Big Data analytics, as applied to network telemetry, offers new opportunities for improving and assuring operational integrity. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jim Frey, Vice President of S...
"We focus on SAP workloads because they are among the most powerful but somewhat challenging workloads out there to take into public cloud," explained Swen Conrad, CEO of Ocean9, Inc., in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
"As we've gone out into the public cloud we've seen that over time we may have lost a few things - we've lost control, we've given up cost to a certain extent, and then security, flexibility," explained Steve Conner, VP of Sales at Cloudistics,in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
"DX encompasses the continuing technology revolution, and is addressing society's most important issues throughout the entire $78 trillion 21st-century global economy," said Roger Strukhoff, Conference Chair. "DX World Expo has organized these issues along 10 tracks with more than 150 of the world's top speakers coming to Istanbul to help change the world."
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.
"We are focused on SAP running in the clouds, to make this super easy because we believe in the tremendous value of those powerful worlds - SAP and the cloud," explained Frank Stienhans, CTO of Ocean9, Inc., in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
"Peak 10 is a hybrid infrastructure provider across the nation. We are in the thick of things when it comes to hybrid IT," explained , Chief Technology Officer at Peak 10, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
"I think DevOps is now a rambunctious teenager – it’s starting to get a mind of its own, wanting to get its own things but it still needs some adult supervision," explained Thomas Hooker, VP of marketing at CollabNet, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
"We are still a relatively small software house and we are focusing on certain industries like FinTech, med tech, energy and utilities. We help our customers with their digital transformation," noted Piotr Stawinski, Founder and CEO of EARP Integration, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
"We've been engaging with a lot of customers including Panasonic, we've been involved with Cisco and now we're working with the U.S. government - the Department of Homeland Security," explained Peter Jung, Chief Product Officer at Pulzze Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
"We're here to tell the world about our cloud-scale infrastructure that we have at Juniper combined with the world-class security that we put into the cloud," explained Lisa Guess, VP of Systems Engineering at Juniper Networks, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
"I will be talking about ChatOps and ChatOps as a way to solve some problems in the DevOps space," explained Himanshu Chhetri, CTO of Addteq, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Mike Johnston, an infrastructure engineer at Supergiant.io, discussed how to use Kubernetes to set up a SaaS infrastructure for your business. Mike Johnston is an infrastructure engineer at Supergiant.io with over 12 years of experience designing, deploying, and maintaining server and workstation infrastructure at all scales. He has experience with brick and mortar data centers as well as cloud providers like Digital Ocean, Amazon Web Services, and Rackspace. H...
"We are an IT services solution provider and we sell software to support those solutions. Our focus and key areas are around security, enterprise monitoring, and continuous delivery optimization," noted John Balsavage, President of A&I Solutions, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
What sort of WebRTC based applications can we expect to see over the next year and beyond? One way to predict development trends is to see what sorts of applications startups are building. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Arin Sime, founder of WebRTC.ventures, discussed the current and likely future trends in WebRTC application development based on real requests for custom applications from real customers, as well as other public sources of information.
Your homes and cars can be automated and self-serviced. Why can't your storage? From simply asking questions to analyze and troubleshoot your infrastructure, to provisioning storage with snapshots, recovery and replication, your wildest sci-fi dream has come true. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Dan Florea, Director of Product Management at Tintri, provided a ChatOps demo where you can talk to your storage and manage it from anywhere, through Slack and similar services with...
The financial services market is one of the most data-driven industries in the world, yet it’s bogged down by legacy CPU technologies that simply can’t keep up with the task of querying and visualizing billions of records. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Karthik Lalithraj, a Principal Solutions Architect at Kinetica, discussed how the advent of advanced in-database analytics on the GPU makes it possible to run sophisticated data science workloads on the same database that is housing the rich...
DevOps at Cloud Expo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 21st 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 w...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Massive Networks will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Massive Networks mission is simple. To help your business operate seamlessly with fast, reliable, and secure internet and network solutions. Improve your customer's experience with outstanding connections to your cloud.