Welcome!

Cloud Expo Authors: Elizabeth White, Xenia von Wedel, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Roger Strukhoff

Related Topics: Virtualization, Cloud Expo

Virtualization: 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.


Cloud Expo Breaking News
Next-Gen Cloud. Whatever you call it, there’s a higher calling for cloud computing that requires providers to change their spots and move from a commodity mindset to a premium one. Businesses can no longer maintain the status quo that today’s service providers offer. Yes, the continuity, speed, mobility, data access and connectivity are staples of the cloud and always will be. But cloud providers that plan to not only exist tomorrow – but to lead – know that security must be the top priority for the cloud and are delivering it now. In his session at 14th Cloud Expo, Kurt Hagerman, Chief Information Security Officer at FireHost, will detail why and how you can have both infrastructure performance and enterprise-grade security – and what tomorrow's cloud provider will look like.
The social media expansion has shown just how people are eager to share their experiences with the rest of the world. Cloud technology is the perfect platform to satisfy this need given its great flexibility and readiness. At Cynny, we aim to revolutionize how people share and organize their digital life through a brand new cloud service, starting from infrastructure to the users’ interface. A revolution that began from inventing and designing our very own infrastructure: we have created the first server network powered solely by ARM CPU. The microservers have “organism-like” features, differentiating them from any of the current technologies. Benefits include low consumption of energy, making Cynny the ecologically friendly alternative for storage as well as cheaper infrastructure, lower running costs, etc.
Cloud backup and recovery services are critical to safeguarding an organization’s data and ensuring business continuity when technical failures and outages occur. With so many choices, how do you find the right provider for your specific needs? In his session at 14th Cloud Expo, Daniel Jacobson, Technology Manager at BUMI, will outline the key factors including backup configurations, proactive monitoring, data restoration, disaster recovery drills, security, compliance and data center resources. Aside from the technical considerations, the secret sauce in identifying the best vendor is the level of focus, expertise and specialization of their engineering team and support group, and how they monitor your day-to-day backups, provide recommendations, and guide you through restores when necessary.
Web conferencing in a public cloud has the same risks as any other cloud service. If you have ever had concerns over the types of data being shared in your employees’ web conferences, such as IP, financials or customer data, then it’s time to look at web conferencing in a private cloud. In her session at 14th Cloud Expo, Courtney Behrens, Senior Marketing Manager at Brother International, will discuss how issues that had previously been out of your control, like performance, advanced administration and compliance, can now be put back behind your firewall.
Cloud scalability and performance should be at the heart of every successful Internet venture. The infrastructure needs to be resilient, flexible, and fast – it’s best not to get caught thinking about architecture until the middle of an emergency, when it's too late. In his interactive, no-holds-barred session at 14th Cloud Expo, Phil Jackson, Development Community Advocate for SoftLayer, will dive into how to design and build-out the right cloud infrastructure.
The revolution that happened in the server universe over the past 15 years has resulted in an eco-system that is more open, more democratically innovative and produced better results in technically challenging dimensions like scale. The underpinnings of the revolution were common hardware, standards based APIs (ex. POSIX) and a strict adherence to layering and isolation between applications, daemons and kernel drivers/modules which allowed multiple types of development happen in parallel without hindering others. Put simply, today's server model is built on a consistent x86 platform with few surprises in its core components. A kernel abstracts away the platform, so that applications and daemons are decoupled from the hardware. In contrast, networking equipment is still stuck in the mainframe era. Today, networking equipment is a single appliance, including hardware, OS, applications and user interface come as a monolithic entity from a single vendor. Switching between different vendor'...
More and more enterprises today are doing business by opening up their data and applications through APIs. Though forward-thinking and strategic, exposing APIs also increases the surface area for potential attack by hackers. To benefit from APIs while staying secure, enterprises and security architects need to continue to develop a deep understanding about API security and how it differs from traditional web application security or mobile application security. In his session at 14th Cloud Expo, Sachin Agarwal, VP of Product Marketing and Strategy at SOA Software, will walk you through the various aspects of how an API could be potentially exploited. He will discuss the necessary best practices to secure your data and enterprise applications while continue continuing to support your business’s digital initiatives.
You use an agile process; your goal is to make your organization more agile. What about your data infrastructure? The truth is, today’s databases are anything but agile – they are effectively static repositories that are cumbersome to work with, difficult to change, and cannot keep pace with application demands. Performance suffers as a result, and it takes far longer than it should to deliver on new features and capabilities needed to make your organization competitive. As your application and business needs change, data repositories and structures get outmoded rapidly, resulting in increased work for application developers and slow performance for end users. Further, as data sizes grow into the Big Data realm, this problem is exacerbated and becomes even more difficult to address. A seemingly simple schema change can take hours (or more) to perform, and as requirements evolve the disconnect between existing data structures and actual needs diverge.
SYS-CON Events announced today that SherWeb, a long-time leading provider of cloud services and Microsoft's 2013 World Hosting Partner of the Year, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 14th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 10–12, 2014, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York. A worldwide hosted services leader ranking in the prestigious North American Deloitte Technology Fast 500TM, and Microsoft's 2013 World Hosting Partner of the Year, SherWeb provides competitive cloud solutions to businesses and partners around the world. Founded in 1998, SherWeb is a privately owned company headquartered in Quebec, Canada. Its service portfolio includes Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint, Lync, Dynamics CRM and more.
The world of cloud and application development is not just for the hardened developer these days. In their session at 14th Cloud Expo, Phil Jackson, Development Community Advocate for SoftLayer, and Harold Hannon, Sr. Software Architect at SoftLayer, will pull back the curtain of the architecture of a fun demo application purpose-built for the cloud. They will focus on demonstrating how they leveraged compute, storage, messaging, and other cloud elements hosted at SoftLayer to lower the effort and difficulty of putting together a useful application. This will be an active demonstration and review of simple command-line tools and resources, so don’t be afraid if you are not a seasoned developer.
SYS-CON Events announced today that BUMI, a premium managed service provider specializing in data backup and recovery, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 14th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 10–12, 2014, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York. Manhattan-based BUMI (Backup My Info!) is a premium managed service provider specializing in data backup and recovery. Founded in 2002, the company’s Here, There and Everywhere data backup and recovery solutions are utilized by more than 500 businesses. BUMI clients include professional service organizations such as banking, financial, insurance, accounting, hedge funds and law firms. The company is known for its relentless passion for customer service and support, and has won numerous awards, including Customer Service Provider of the Year and 10 Best Companies to Work For.
Chief Security Officers (CSO), CIOs and IT Directors are all concerned with providing a secure environment from which their business can innovate and customers can safely consume without the fear of Distributed Denial of Service attacks. To be successful in today's hyper-connected world, the enterprise needs to leverage the capabilities of the web and be ready to innovate without fear of DDoS attacks, concerns about application security and other threats. Organizations face great risk from increasingly frequent and sophisticated attempts to render web properties unavailable, and steal intellectual property or personally identifiable information. Layered security best practices extend security beyond the data center, delivering DDoS protection and maintaining site performance in the face of fast-changing threats.
From data center to cloud to the network. In his session at 3rd SDDC Expo, Raul Martynek, CEO of Net Access, will identify the challenges facing both data center providers and enterprise IT as they relate to cross-platform automation. He will then provide insight into designing, building, securing and managing the technology as an integrated service offering. Topics covered include: High-density data center design Network (and SDN) integration and automation Cloud (and hosting) infrastructure considerations Monitoring and security Management approaches Self-service and automation
In his session at 14th Cloud Expo, David Holmes, Vice President at OutSystems, will demonstrate the immense power that lives at the intersection of mobile apps and cloud application platforms. Attendees will participate in a live demonstration – an enterprise mobile app will be built and changed before their eyes – on their own devices. David Holmes brings over 20 years of high-tech marketing leadership to OutSystems. Prior to joining OutSystems, he was VP of Global Marketing for Damballa, a leading provider of network security solutions. Previously, he was SVP of Global Marketing for Jacada where his branding and positioning expertise helped drive the company from start-up days to a $55 million initial public offering on Nasdaq.
Performance is the intersection of power, agility, control, and choice. If you value performance, and more specifically consistent performance, you need to look beyond simple virtualized compute. Many factors need to be considered to create a truly performant environment. In his General Session at 14th Cloud Expo, Marc Jones, Vice President of Product Innovation for SoftLayer, will explain how to take advantage of a multitude of compute options and platform features to make cloud the cornerstone of your online presence.