Welcome!

@CloudExpo Authors: William Schmarzo, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Olivier Huynh Van

Related Topics: Containers Expo Blog, @CloudExpo

Containers Expo Blog: Blog Post

Virtualization Does Not a Cloud Make

Cloud Computing is not about any particular technology, but rather is a new operational model for the delivery of IT services

In a previous post we discussed the positive shift in the cloud computing discourse towards actionable steps rather than philosophical diatribes on definitions. And to support that discussion we offered the following list of things not to do:

  1. Not understanding the business value
  2. Assuming server virtualization is enough
  3. Not understanding service dependencies
  4. Leveraging traditional monitoring
  5. Not understanding internal/external costs

As we continue our discussion of these missteps, in this post we'll address both a mistake and a common misconception.

Cloud computing is not about any particular technology, but rather is a new operational model for the delivery of IT services. Make no mistake: technology and implementation decisions have the potential to radically change your IT financial models by increasing IT efficiency. But this does not mean that specific technologies are requisite components of a Cloud.

Virtualization is one of those technologies frequently associated, and sometimes thought to be synonymous, with cloud computing. Moreover, if you asked a group of 20 IT professionals to define virtualization, the overwhelming majority would reply: "VMware." Together, these misconceptions perpetuate the notion that an organization can realize a cloud delivery paradigm by exclusively leveraging VMware or other comparable virtualization technologies. But this notion is false - VMware certainly deserves praise for their marketing prowess in the cloud space, and for providing a powerful, cloud-enabling technology. But implemented alone, VMware is not a cloud; it is a recipe for more operational headaches than you already have.

Let's start by refining our understanding of virtualization. VMware, Xen, KVM, and HyperV provide server virtualization. They facilitate ease of provisioning and movement of application workloads, and enable the sharing of an individual server's resources among multiple applications. But is that the only thing we consider when we deploy a solution? What about networking and storage? How about middleware and the data consumed by the workload? What about the application itself?

We have been virtualizing at the server level since MVS was invented for the mainframe. We've been virtualizing networks for the past 20 years. In the past decade we've begun to aggressively virtualize storage platforms as well, so none of those bear further analysis in this forum. However, when we ask people about middleware, data, and application virtualization, their resultant blank stares suggest that more examination is warranted.

Middleware virtualization is an imprecise term without a universally accepted definition. In this context we mean the true decoupling of the APIs that handle scalability, high availability, etc., from the runtime platform that provides those services. If you are familiar with the now-passé technology for grid computing, you know exactly what we mean. Why does this matter for the cloud? Horizontal scaling for web applications by simply overprovisioning (current approach for most deployments, cloud or not) is easy to do, but it's inherently inefficient: it is time-consuming to continually provision/de-provision resources, and underutilized infrastructure in the run-time environment goes wasted most of the time. Those familiar with middleware virtualization know those parameters are configured once during deployment, and actions are fully automated thereafter. Consequently it is much quicker to react to changes in demand.

Data virtualization is a simpler concept: what happens when your workload needs to access a large data repository to execute? Sure, it runs great when that repository is across the data center, but what about when it's on a different continent? Does it really make sense to leverage additional resources that are a great distance away if the price you pay for network latency (speed of light is a bummer) outweigh the performance benefits of adding more servers? At the simplest level, data virtualization is a way to make the data appear local to the computing resource. If the benefits of that aren't immediately obvious, you've probably logged on to the wrong blog.

Last, but certainly not leas let's explore application virtualization. Like middleware, it lacks a well-accepted definition, so we'll attempt to keep it simple. Application virtualization technologies specialize in the packaging and deployment of complete application run-time environments (think web, application, and DB) independent of any particular execution platform. In terms of execution platforms, think x86 servers running Linux, Microsoft, Solaris, other proprietary Unix platforms, or even a public cloud IaaS service like EC2. Wouldn't it be nice to package once and provision anywhere, and to do so manually or automatically based on time-of-day or real-time events like a failed resource?

In closing, we would like to re-emphasize a couple of points:

  • Virtualization does not equal cloud
  • Virtualization is much more than VMware

Virtualization at all levels - what we affectionately term holistic virtualization - can significantly increase the resource efficiency, the responsiveness to demand fluctuations, and reduce the level of effort your team will need to put into supporting your cloud environment.

In our next post we'll explore the next topic on our list:  service dependencies.

More Stories By James Houghton

James Houghton is Co-Founder & Chief Technology Officer of Adaptivity. In his CTO capacity Jim interacts with key technology providers to evolve capabilities and partnerships that enable Adaptivity to offer its complete SOIT, RTI, and Utility Computing solutions. In addition, he engages with key clients to ensure successful leverage of the ADIOS methodology.

Most recently, Houghton was the SVP Architecture & Strategy Executive for the infrastructure organization at Bank of America, where he drove legacy infrastructure transformation initiatives across 40+ data centers. Prior to that he was the Head of Wachovia’s Utility Product Management, where he drove the design, services, and offering for SOA and Utility Computing for the technology division of Wachovia’s Corporate & Investment Bank. He has also led leading-edge consulting practices at IBM Global Technology Services and Deloitte Consulting.

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
The Internet of Things can drive efficiency for airlines and airports. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect with GE, and Sudip Majumder, senior director of development at Oracle, will discuss the technical details of the connected airline baggage and related social media solutions. These IoT applications will enhance travelers' journey experience and drive efficiency for the airlines and the airports. The session will include a working demo and a technical d...
Businesses are struggling to manage the information flow and interactions between all of these new devices and things jumping on their network, and the apps and IT systems they control. The data businesses gather is only helpful if they can do something with it. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Witeck, Principal Technology Strategist at Citrix, will discuss how different the impact of IoT will be for large businesses, expanding how IoT will allow large organizations to make their legacy ap...
The many IoT deployments around the world are busy integrating smart devices and sensors into their enterprise IT infrastructures. Yet all of this technology – and there are an amazing number of choices – is of no use without the software to gather, communicate, and analyze the new data flows. Without software, there is no IT. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists will look at the protocols that communicate data and the emerging data analy...
As ridesharing competitors and enhanced services increase, notable changes are occurring in the transportation model. Despite the cost-effective means and flexibility of ridesharing, both drivers and users will need to be aware of the connected environment and how it will impact the ridesharing experience. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Timothy Evavold, Executive Director Automotive at Covisint, will discuss key challenges and solutions to powering a ride sharing and/or multimodal model in the a...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management solutions, helping companies worldwide activate their data to drive more value and business insight and to transform moder...
Whether they’re located in a public, private, or hybrid cloud environment, cloud technologies are constantly evolving. While the innovation is exciting, the end mission of delivering business value and rapidly producing incremental product features is paramount. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 19th Cloud Expo, Kiran Chitturi, CTO Architect at Sungard AS, will discuss DevOps culture, its evolution of frameworks and technologies, and how it is achieving maturity. He will also cover various st...
SYS-CON Events announced today that eCube Systems, a leading provider of middleware modernization, integration, and management solutions, will exhibit at @DevOpsSummit at 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. eCube Systems offers a family of middleware evolution products and services that maximize return on technology investment by leveraging existing technical equity to meet evolving business needs. ...
Creating replica copies to tolerate a certain number of failures is easy, but very expensive at cloud-scale. Conventional RAID has lower overhead, but it is limited in the number of failures it can tolerate. And the management is like herding cats (overseeing capacity, rebuilds, migrations, and degraded performance). Download Slide Deck: ▸ Here In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Scott Cleland, Senior Director of Product Marketing for the HGST Cloud Infrastructure Business Unit, discusse...
All clouds are not equal. To succeed in a DevOps context, organizations should plan to develop/deploy apps across a choice of on-premise and public clouds simultaneously depending on the business needs. This is where the concept of the Lean Cloud comes in - resting on the idea that you often need to relocate your app modules over their life cycles for both innovation and operational efficiency in the cloud. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at19th Cloud Expo, Valentin (Val) Bercovici, CTO of So...
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....
What are the new priorities for the connected business? First: businesses need to think differently about the types of connections they will need to make – these span well beyond the traditional app to app into more modern forms of integration including SaaS integrations, mobile integrations, APIs, device integration and Big Data integration. It’s important these are unified together vs. doing them all piecemeal. Second, these types of connections need to be simple to design, adapt and configure...
Digital innovation is the next big wave of business transformation based on digital technologies of which IoT and Big Data are key components, For example: Business boundary innovation is a challenge to excavate third-party business value using IoT and BigData, like Nest Business structure innovation may propose re-building business structure from scratch, as Uber does in the taxicab industry The social model innovation is also a big challenge to the new social architecture with the design fr...
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, wh...
Data is an unusual currency; it is not restricted by the same transactional limitations as money or people. In fact, the more that you leverage your data across multiple business use cases, the more valuable it becomes to the organization. And the same can be said about the organization’s analytics. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Bill Schmarzo, CTO for the Big Data Practice at EMC, will introduce a methodology for capturing, enriching and sharing data (and analytics) across the organizati...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Bsquare has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. For more than two decades, Bsquare has helped its customers extract business value from a broad array of physical assets by making them intelligent, connecting them, and using the data they generate to optimize business processes.
SYS-CON Events has announced today that Roger Strukhoff has been named conference chair of Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo 2016 Silicon Valley. The 19th Cloud Expo and 6th @ThingsExpo will take place on November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. "The Internet of Things brings trillions of dollars of opportunity to developers and enterprise IT, no matter how you measure it," stated Roger Strukhoff. "More importantly, it leverages the power of devices and the Interne...
19th Cloud Expo, taking place November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, 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 strategy. Meanwhile, 94% of enterpri...
We’ve been doing it for years, decades for some. How many websites have you created accounts on? Your bank, your credit card companies, social media sites, hotels and travel sites, online shopping sites, and that’s just the start. We do it often without even thinking about it, quickly entering our personal information, our data, in a plethora of systems. Sometimes we’re not even aware of the information we are providing. It could be very personal information (think of the security questions you ...
In this strange new world where more and more power is drawn from business technology, companies are effectively straddling two paths on the road to innovation and transformation into digital enterprises. The first path is the heritage trail – with “legacy” technology forming the background. Here, extant technologies are transformed by core IT teams to provide more API-driven approaches. Legacy systems can restrict companies that are transitioning into digital enterprises. To truly become a lea...
According to Forrester Research, every business will become either a digital predator or digital prey by 2020. To avoid demise, organizations must rapidly create new sources of value in their end-to-end customer experiences. True digital predators also must break down information and process silos and extend digital transformation initiatives to empower employees with the digital resources needed to win, serve, and retain customers.