Welcome!

@CloudExpo Authors: Pat Romanski, Yeshim Deniz, Liz McMillan, Jason Bloomberg, Elizabeth White

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Microservices Expo, Open Source Cloud

@CloudExpo: Article

Tracing the IT Evolution from the Big Bang to the Big Crunch

How enterprises are progressing from overgrown, difficult-to-manage IT systems to high performance open source infrastructure

Over the history of computing, we can trace a pattern of continuous decomposition, from a single system into disparate components. Early on, these individual parts made it easier to design, program and maintain systems, and meet the fast-growing demand for more power and more capacity.

The industry began with the mainframe, where the entire stack from hardware to application logic was contained in a single box. The next phase was the move from mainframe to client-server. This was followed by SOA (service-oriented architecture). This process of decomposition is a natural byproduct of growth in scale. As we consume increasingly more computing and storage, efficiency gains are achieved through specialization.

Such continuous decomposition is a typical pattern of many industries. Several centuries ago, the model was subsistence farming, where every family as a single unit grew all of their own crops. Today, food production has decomposed into a collection of highly specialized industries.

However, this process of decomposition in IT injects complexity. At a certain scale, highly decomposed systems become extremely challenging to manage. This then drives a pressing need to abstract away from some of the individual components to a higher level. This is largely what we are observing today with infrastructure computing. The complex mammoth of enterprise IT, today comprised of a spaghetti mix of application servers, relational and noSQL databases, messaging queues, caching and search services, etc., is no longer manageable.

Gartner labeled 2011 as the year of cloud platforms or PaaS. Thinking of PaaS, we intuitively think Heroku, Force.com, and Google App Engine, all off-premise cloud platforms. But the cloud movement is not just about on-premise versus off-premise. It's about creating an effective means to abstract away from application infrastructure complexity. As mainframes exploded into myriad sub-components, we experienced sort of a Big Bang in enterprise IT. What we are starting to observe now is the Big Crunch, turning application infrastructure back into a more unified, manageable artifact.

OpenStack
OpenStack is one of the most interesting initiatives topping the headlines during the last several months, and it's directly related to the Big Crunch. An open source project with the promise to help consolidate the many disparate components of application infrastructure, OpenStack is only a year old and is far from fulfilling this promise today. However, I believe that OpenStack for application infrastructure will eventually become what Linux became to application logic many years ago - a single interface unifying all application infrastructure components and exposing a standardized set of APIs to applications running on top of it.

Open Source Cloud Projects and How They Differ
OpenStack is not the first open source cloud project. Eucalyptus, OpenNebula, and Cloud.com all emerged before OpenStack and all of them are still very much alive. However, OpenStack is different from these others because it's the only one that has gained enough critical mass to get on a steady course to mass adoption.

What enabled OpenStack to reach this point was not an accident, but a clever strategy by RackSpace and other founding members. Rather than following a more common, vendor-centric approach to building an open source community, like Eucalyptus and Cloud.com did, RackSpace quickly figured out that getting a "cloud operating system" to mass adoption would require more marketing muscle then any single vendor has. So it positioned OpenStack as a decentralized, community-driven project from the very beginning and set out to get the support of big players in the application infrastructure space, namely Dell, Cisco, and Citrix. It didn't go after just any infrastructure player, but specifically focused on those who were arguably late to the cloud game and aching to make up the distance they lost to the likes of VMware and IBM. Ultimately, OpenStack's blitz to success is a result of unleashing an enormous amount of marketing energy in a short period of time, carefully coordinated between a number of application infrastructure power houses.

Following Amazon to Open Source Infrastructure
Today, OpenStack is focused on low level infrastructure services - compute, storage, image service, etc., and much work still remains to be done by the community in that area. However, we know the trend and have already seen it with Amazon Web Services (AWS). AWS initially started as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) with EC2 and S3 offerings; it then evolved into a fully blown Platform as a Service (PaaS). The value in solving application infrastructure complexity in a broader sense, by embedding higher level services like automated deployment, message queues, map reduce, and monitoring, is simply too compelling. At some point, we expect to see OpenStack creeping into the PaaS space, the same way AWS is doing today.

This gradual transition from simply being a compute and storage infrastructure orchestrator into a complete cloud operating system will happen naturally for OpenStack. It will be driven by infrastructure vendors of all sizes that are looking to plug their solutions into the OpenStack ecosystem. With more than  100 member companies on board already today, we see various announcements to this effect right and left: Gluster contributes its file system, Dell builds a deployment services, CloudCruiser builds a cost management solution, etc.

What's Ahead for OpenStack
The openness and decentralized nature of OpenStack is central to the realization of its vision of the cloud operating system. Instead of trying to solve all application infrastructure complexity inside one monolithic system, such as with the VMware stack, OpenStack harnesses the naturally occurring decomposition in the infrastructure space. This is the Big Bang in infrastructure we've all experienced. Individual vendors with competence in one particular area of application infrastructure can plug their solutions (storage, caching, monitoring, etc.) into OpenStack. As OpenStack continues to gain adoption, it will become a channel for infrastructure vendors to sell their offerings in the same way that the Apple app store is a channel for mobile app developers. At the same time, OpenStack will help abstract end users and resident applications away from the complexity of disparate infrastructure solutions.

Today we are still in the early days of OpenStack. It's far from being the ultimate platform. It may also be less feature-rich than competing offerings from Microsoft or VMware. However, this is unimportant today. What's important is that the need for the Big Crunch that will decrease application infrastructure complexity is obvious. The magnitude of effort required to make this happen is not something any single vendor could credibly pull off. Ultimately, it's not OpenStack features that matter, but the "idea" behind this project and the degree of uptake it has already received in the community. When many people come together to realize a sensible vision, that vision inevitably becomes a reality.

More Stories By Boris Renski

Boris is the co-founder of Mirantis and is currently a board member at the OpenStack foundation. He was one of the key influencers to convince all internal Mirantis stakeholders to make the bet on OpenStack services. Today Boris remains as Mirantis’ public face in the OpenStack community. Operationally responsible for Mirantis’ marketing strategy, Boris works to ensure that the marketing dollars the company spends don’t just promote Mirantis’ brand, but also help further global awareness of the OpenStack community as a whole. To that effect Mirantis is a regular sponsor of OpenStack summits, promotes OpenStack at unaffiliated trade shows such as CloudConnect and OSCON and helps facilitate regional meet-ups in the Bay Area, Washington DC, Russia and Ukraine. Boris continuously helps evangelize OpenStack community by regularly blogging about it (blog.mirantis.com), talking on behalf of the community at various conferences and engaging in business development activities to attract new member companies and contributors. During 15 years of his professional career Boris held several executive positions with technology companies he helped establish. He was a founder and CEO of Selectosa Systems – an IT consulting company which was subsequently acquired in 2006; and is a co-founder and angel investor at AGroup.lv – now a venture backed enterprise software company headquartered in Europe.

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
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloud Academy named "Bronze Sponsor" of 21st International Cloud Expo which will take place October 31 - November 2, 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Cloud Academy is the industry’s most innovative, vendor-neutral cloud technology training platform. Cloud Academy provides continuous learning solutions for individuals and enterprise teams for Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and the most popular cloud com...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend 21st Cloud Expo October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, CA, and June 12-14, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend 21st Cloud Expo October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, CA, and June 12-14, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CA Technologies has been named "Platinum Sponsor" of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CA Technologies helps customers succeed in a future where every business - from apparel to energy - is being rewritten by software. From planning to development to management to security, CA creates software that fuels transformation for companies in the applic...
Multiple data types are pouring into IoT deployments. Data is coming in small packages as well as enormous files and data streams of many sizes. Widespread use of mobile devices adds to the total. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists looked at the tools and environments that are being put to use in IoT deployments, as well as the team skills a modern enterprise IT shop needs to keep things running, get a handle on all this data, and deliver...
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Lachapelle, CEO of the Professional Evaluation and Certification Board (PECB), provided an overview of various initiatives to certify the security of connected devices and future trends in ensuring public trust of IoT. Eric Lachapelle is the Chief Executive Officer of the Professional Evaluation and Certification Board (PECB), an international certification body. His role is to help companies and individuals to achieve professional, accredited and worldwide re...
Amazon started as an online bookseller 20 years ago. Since then, it has evolved into a technology juggernaut that has disrupted multiple markets and industries and touches many aspects of our lives. It is a relentless technology and business model innovator driving disruption throughout numerous ecosystems. Amazon’s AWS revenues alone are approaching $16B a year making it one of the largest IT companies in the world. With dominant offerings in Cloud, IoT, eCommerce, Big Data, AI, Digital Assista...
New competitors, disruptive technologies, and growing expectations are pushing every business to both adopt and deliver new digital services. This ‘Digital Transformation’ demands rapid delivery and continuous iteration of new competitive services via multiple channels, which in turn demands new service delivery techniques – including DevOps. In this power panel at @DevOpsSummit 20th Cloud Expo, moderated by DevOps Conference Co-Chair Andi Mann, panelists examined how DevOps helps to meet the de...
Both SaaS vendors and SaaS buyers are going “all-in” to hyperscale IaaS platforms such as AWS, which is disrupting the SaaS value proposition. Why should the enterprise SaaS consumer pay for the SaaS service if their data is resident in adjacent AWS S3 buckets? If both SaaS sellers and buyers are using the same cloud tools, automation and pay-per-transaction model offered by IaaS platforms, then why not host the “shrink-wrapped” software in the customers’ cloud? Further, serverless computing, cl...
You know you need the cloud, but you’re hesitant to simply dump everything at Amazon since you know that not all workloads are suitable for cloud. You know that you want the kind of ease of use and scalability that you get with public cloud, but your applications are architected in a way that makes the public cloud a non-starter. You’re looking at private cloud solutions based on hyperconverged infrastructure, but you’re concerned with the limits inherent in those technologies.
The taxi industry never saw Uber coming. Startups are a threat to incumbents like never before, and a major enabler for startups is that they are instantly “cloud ready.” If innovation moves at the pace of IT, then your company is in trouble. Why? Because your data center will not keep up with frenetic pace AWS, Microsoft and Google are rolling out new capabilities. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Don Browning, VP of Cloud Architecture at Turner, posited that disruption is inevitable for comp...
No hype cycles or predictions of zillions of things here. IoT is big. You get it. You know your business and have great ideas for a business transformation strategy. What comes next? Time to make it happen. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jay Mason, Associate Partner at M&S Consulting, presented a step-by-step plan to develop your technology implementation strategy. He discussed the evaluation of communication standards and IoT messaging protocols, data analytics considerations, edge-to-cloud tec...
"When we talk about cloud without compromise what we're talking about is that when people think about 'I need the flexibility of the cloud' - it's the ability to create applications and run them in a cloud environment that's far more flexible,” explained Matthew Finnie, CTO of Interoute, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Wooed by the promise of faster innovation, lower TCO, and greater agility, businesses of every shape and size have embraced the cloud at every layer of the IT stack – from apps to file sharing to infrastructure. The typical organization currently uses more than a dozen sanctioned cloud apps and will shift more than half of all workloads to the cloud by 2018. Such cloud investments have delivered measurable benefits. But they’ve also resulted in some unintended side-effects: complexity and risk. ...
It is ironic, but perhaps not unexpected, that many organizations who want the benefits of using an Agile approach to deliver software use a waterfall approach to adopting Agile practices: they form plans, they set milestones, and they measure progress by how many teams they have engaged. Old habits die hard, but like most waterfall software projects, most waterfall-style Agile adoption efforts fail to produce the results desired. The problem is that to get the results they want, they have to ch...
In 2014, Amazon announced a new form of compute called Lambda. We didn't know it at the time, but this represented a fundamental shift in what we expect from cloud computing. Now, all of the major cloud computing vendors want to take part in this disruptive technology. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Doug Vanderweide, an instructor at Linux Academy, discussed why major players like AWS, Microsoft Azure, IBM Bluemix, and Google Cloud Platform are all trying to sidestep VMs and containers wit...
The Internet giants are fully embracing AI. All the services they offer to their customers are aimed at drawing a map of the world with the data they get. The AIs from these companies are used to build disruptive approaches that cannot be used by established enterprises, which are threatened by these disruptions. However, most leaders underestimate the effect this will have on their businesses. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Rene Buest, Director Market Research & Technology Evangelism at Ara...
When growing capacity and power in the data center, the architectural trade-offs between server scale-up vs. scale-out continue to be debated. Both approaches are valid: scale-out adds multiple, smaller servers running in a distributed computing model, while scale-up adds fewer, more powerful servers that are capable of running larger workloads. It’s worth noting that there are additional, unique advantages that scale-up architectures offer. One big advantage is large memory and compute capacity...
"We are a monitoring company. We work with Salesforce, BBC, and quite a few other big logos. We basically provide monitoring for them, structure for their cloud services and we fit into the DevOps world" explained David Gildeh, Co-founder and CEO of Outlyer, 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.
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM has been named “Diamond Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st Cloud Expo, which will take place on October 31 through November 2nd 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California.