Click here to close now.


@CloudExpo Authors: Liz McMillan, Yeshim Deniz, Pat Romanski, Elizabeth White, Cloud Best Practices Network

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
There are many considerations when moving applications from on-premise to cloud. It is critical to understand the benefits and also challenges of this migration. A successful migration will result in lower Total Cost of Ownership, yet offer the same or higher level of robustness. Migration to cloud shifts computing resources from your data center, which can yield significant advantages provided that the cloud vendor an offer enterprise-grade quality for your application.
Overgrown applications have given way to modular applications, driven by the need to break larger problems into smaller problems. Similarly large monolithic development processes have been forced to be broken into smaller agile development cycles. Looking at trends in software development, microservices architectures meet the same demands. Additional benefits of microservices architectures are compartmentalization and a limited impact of service failure versus a complete software malfunction....
Manufacturing has widely adopted standardized and automated processes to create designs, build them, and maintain them through their life cycle. However, many modern manufacturing systems go beyond mechanized workflows to introduce empowered workers, flexible collaboration, and rapid iteration. Such behaviors also characterize open source software development and are at the heart of DevOps culture, processes, and tooling.
Containers are revolutionizing the way we deploy and maintain our infrastructures, but monitoring and troubleshooting in a containerized environment can still be painful and impractical. Understanding even basic resource usage is difficult - let alone tracking network connections or malicious activity. In his session at DevOps Summit, Gianluca Borello, Sr. Software Engineer at Sysdig, will cover the current state of the art for container monitoring and visibility, including pros / cons and li...
Between the compelling mockups and specs produced by analysts, and resulting applications built by developers, there exists a gulf where projects fail, costs spiral, and applications disappoint. Methodologies like Agile attempt to address this with intensified communication, with partial success but many limitations. In his session at DevOps Summit, Charles Kendrick, CTO and Chief Architect at Isomorphic Software, will present a revolutionary model enabled by new technologies. Learn how busine...
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data...
The buzz continues for cloud, data analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT) and their collective impact across all industries. But a new conversation is emerging - how do companies use industry disruption and technology enablers to lead in markets undergoing change, uncertainty and ambiguity? Organizations of all sizes need to evolve and transform, often under massive pressure, as industry lines blur and merge and traditional business models are assaulted and turned upside down. In this new da...
Containers are changing the security landscape for software development and deployment. As with any security solutions, security approaches that work for developers, operations personnel and security professionals is a requirement. In his session at @DevOpsSummit, Kevin Gilpin, CTO and Co-Founder of Conjur, will discuss various security considerations for container-based infrastructure and related DevOps workflows.
The web app is agile. The REST API is agile. The testing and planning are agile. But alas, data infrastructures certainly are not. Once an application matures, changing the shape or indexing scheme of data often forces at best a top down planning exercise and at worst includes schema changes that force downtime. The time has come for a new approach that fundamentally advances the agility of distributed data infrastructures. Come learn about a new solution to the problems faced by software organ...
NHK, Japan Broadcasting, will feature the upcoming @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley in a special 'Internet of Things' and smart technology documentary that will be filmed on the expo floor between November 3 to 5, 2015, in Santa Clara. NHK is the sole public TV network in Japan equivalent to the BBC in the UK and the largest in Asia with many award-winning science and technology programs. Japanese TV is producing a documentary about IoT and Smart technology and will be covering @ThingsExpo Silicon Val...
Organizations already struggle with the simple collection of data resulting from the proliferation of IoT, lacking the right infrastructure to manage it. They can't only rely on the cloud to collect and utilize this data because many applications still require dedicated infrastructure for security, redundancy, performance, etc. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Emil Sayegh, CEO of Codero Hosting, will discuss how in order to resolve the inherent issues, companies need to combine dedicated a...
SYS-CON Events announced today that ProfitBricks, the provider of painless cloud infrastructure, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. ProfitBricks is the IaaS provider that offers a painless cloud experience for all IT users, with no learning curve. ProfitBricks boasts flexible cloud servers and networking, an integrated Data Center Designer tool for visual control over the...
Apps and devices shouldn't stop working when there's limited or no network connectivity. Learn how to bring data stored in a cloud database to the edge of the network (and back again) whenever an Internet connection is available. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Bradley Holt, Developer Advocate at IBM Cloud Data Services, will demonstrate techniques for replicating cloud databases with devices in order to build offline-first mobile or Internet of Things (IoT) apps that can provide a better, ...
IT data is typically silo'd by the various tools in place. Unifying all the log, metric and event data in one analytics platform stops finger pointing and provides the end-to-end correlation. Logs, metrics and custom event data can be joined to tell the holistic story of your software and operations. For example, users can correlate code deploys to system performance to application error codes.
As-a-service models offer huge opportunities, but also complicate security. It may seem that the easiest way to migrate to a new architectural model is to let others, experts in their field, do the work. This has given rise to many as-a-service models throughout the industry and across the entire technology stack, from software to infrastructure. While this has unlocked huge opportunities to accelerate the deployment of new capabilities or increase economic efficiencies within an organization, i...
For almost two decades, businesses have discovered great opportunities to engage with customers and even expand revenue through digital systems, including web and mobile applications. Yet, even now, the conversation between the business and the technologists that deliver these systems is strained, in large part due to misaligned objectives. In his session at DevOps Summit, James Urquhart, Senior Vice President of Performance Analytics at SOASTA, Inc., will discuss how measuring user outcomes –...
As a company adopts a DevOps approach to software development, what are key things that both the Dev and Ops side of the business must keep in mind to ensure effective continuous delivery? In his session at DevOps Summit, Mark Hydar, Head of DevOps, Ericsson TV Platforms, will share best practices and provide helpful tips for Ops teams to adopt an open line of communication with the development side of the house to ensure success between the two sides.
There are so many tools and techniques for data analytics that even for a data scientist the choices, possible systems, and even the types of data can be daunting. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Harrold, Global CTO for Big Data Solutions for EMC Corporation, will show how to perform a simple, but meaningful analysis of social sentiment data using freely available tools that take only minutes to download and install. Participants will get the download information, scripts, and complete en...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Key Information Systems, Inc. (KeyInfo), a leading cloud and infrastructure provider offering integrated solutions to enterprises, will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Key Information Systems is a leading regional systems integrator with world-class compute, storage and networking solutions and professional services for the most advanced softwa...
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM Cloud Data Services has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. IBM Cloud Data Services offers a portfolio of integrated, best-of-breed cloud data services for developers focused on mobile computing and analytics use cases.