Welcome!

@CloudExpo Authors: Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Yeshim Deniz, Pat Romanski, Larry Alton

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Microservices Expo, Microsoft Cloud, Containers Expo Blog, Apache

@CloudExpo: Article

Beware Fake Clouds

There’s still plenty of confusion over the what Cloud is and how to achieve value with it

First the good news: Cloud Computing is real, it’s here to stay, we’re doing a reasonably good job of defining it, and it’s already providing significant business value to countless organizations around the globe. Now the bad news: there’s still plenty of confusion over the what Cloud is and how to achieve value with it.

Much of this confusion, as you might expect, comes from software and hardware vendors. After all, they’ve all had to scramble for a new Cloud value proposition once they realized that Cloud Computing would eventually doom the old way of selling their gear. For most such vendors, their Cloud strategies are works in progress. Yes, they may have a bona fide Cloud offering, but if you look more closely, the Cloud benefits you’re expecting may not yet be available. Our advice? Caveat emptor.

Getting the Elasticity You Require
In spite of the title of this ZapFlash, the distinction between a “real” or “fake” Cloud isn’t particularly useful, since it could be argued that any subscription-based Web site is a simple example of SaaS. What really matters is the value proposition. If all you want is a pay-as-you-go subscription model for something you access over the Web, then virtually any vendor’s purported SaaS offering may qualify. However, a subscription model doesn’t guarantee elasticity or automated recovery from failure, two essential Cloud characteristics. If you don’t care about these characteristics, then fine. But don’t be fooled. A vendor may say their offering is Cloud-based, suggesting they have an elastic offering even if they don’t.

It’s also important to understand the different types of elasticity. Even if a vendor says their offering is elastic, you may need to dig further. They may simply be referring to the elasticity of their virtualization layer. An IaaS provider might offer you, say, a virtual machine (VM) with a gigabyte of RAM, with the promise that if you need two gigabytes, you’ll get it automatically, and only pay for it while you’re using it. Yes, this is a form of elasticity, but it has limits. After all, your VM is rubbing elbows with other VMs on some physical server with physical memory somewhere, and there’s only so much RAM to go around. Allotting you more might even mean borrowing it from someone else’s VM.

However, you may be looking for the unlimited type of elasticity that gives Clouds the illusion of infinite capacity—in other words, the elasticity that makes Clouds cloudy. For this type of elasticity, what we might call Cloud elasticity to distinguish it from the limited form in the paragraph above, the Cloud provider must be able to provision and deprovision additional instances quickly and automatically, where “instances” might refer to VMs, storage, queues, databases, or whatever resources you’re interested in acquiring from the provider. IaaS vendors find this kind of horizontal elasticity relatively straightforward, since it’s up to you how you’re going to use your new instances. But for PaaS and SaaS vendors, Cloud elasticity can be unexpectedly problematic.

For example, take a look at the Oracle Database Cloud. This offering essentially takes the enterprise workhorse Oracle Database 11g and places it into a virtualized environment—what Oracle refers to as a PaaS offering in a Private Cloud. The architectural emphasis, however, is on database consolidation, not horizontal elasticity. The problem is that the Oracle Database is inherently partition intolerant, because it guarantees availability and immediate consistency. Their offering may very well meet your needs, but don’t expect it to offer Cloud elasticity.

It’s also important to question your SaaS or PaaS provider about multitenancy. As we discussed in an earlier ZapFlash, there are several different flavors of multitenancy, and they support different value propositions. If a vendor has a traditional app and they want to bring it to the Cloud market quickly, they will typically offer a shared-hardware or shared-OS megatenancy model. With megatenancy, the vendor simply installs the same software they sell commercially on top of virtualized infrastructure, one instance per customer, and then offers customers pay-as-you-go access. If that sounds like a hosted provider model as opposed to a true Cloud model, you’re on the right track—although you may only require pay-as-you-go pricing via a hosted provider model, so the distinction may be moot. But if you’re looking for the elasticity, collaboration capabilities, and coordinated, transparent updates of a SaaS offering with shared-table multitenancy, then be sure your provider truly offers them.

Tough Questions to Ask
There’s more to getting what you pay for in the Cloud than ensuring the elasticity and multitenancy on offer meet your needs. Here are some tough questions you can ask to separate the wheat from the chaff:

  • Did the SaaS provider simply cross out the word “Web” on their marketing and replace it with “Cloud”? Yes, this might be all you require, but chances are you’re looking for something more. Remember the dot.com days where mundane companies would stick the word “Web” in their marketing and automatically become a dot.com player? Well, now the spinmeisters are doing it again. Accessing software with a browser over the Internet doesn’t make it “Cloud.” That’s what we used to call the Web.
  • Will moving to the Cloud really save me money? Saving money may or may not be your reason for moving to the Cloud, but for many organizations, it’s their primary business driver. However, if your capacity requirements are relatively stable—that is, elasticity isn’t particularly important to you—then IaaS in particular may actually be more expensive than just leaving your apps where they are. Make sure you crunch the numbers before taking the plunge.
  • Do you like the idea of SaaS, but no existing SaaS offering is quite right, so you’re thinking about hiring someone to build you a “custom” SaaS solution? If so, you’re almost certainly on the wrong track. The whole point to SaaS is you’re leaving the software development as well as hosting work to someone else who can make money from many customers, thus lowering the cost for all of them. Paying someone to build a bespoke solution defeats the whole purpose. It’s really not SaaS at all, even if you access it over the Web.
  • Does your PaaS provider’s platform give you the APIs you require? For PaaS providers who’ve built their platforms from scratch to run in the Cloud, this is a silly question. Take the Facebook app platform, for example. The whole point of running your app on Facebook is to interface with the core Facebook app, so of course they provide the APIs you need to do so. But what if your PaaS provider took some old middleware product, say an ESB, stuck it in the Cloud, and called it PaaS? You’ll be lucky if the APIs you get simply reflect the fact they’re running in the Cloud at all, let alone offer you specialized capabilities unique to the environment.
  • Just how automated is a public Cloud provider’s automated provisioning and configuration? Elasticity doesn’t just require dynamic provisioning and deprovisioning, it requires automated provisioning and deprovisioning. If provisioning a VM means sending a work order to a sysadmin who’ll get back to you in a few days, it’s not Cloud at all.
  • Similarly, are you considering investing in a Private Cloud, but your vendor can’t provide fully automated configuration and provisioning tools? If so, they’re pulling the wool over your eyes. How do you expect to handle configuration and provisioning, by hiring a room full of monkeys pounding on keyboards all day? Puhleeze. We have a phrase for a Private Cloud without automated configuration and provisioning. We call it a traditional data center.

The ZapThink Take
Fortunately, ZapThink is here to help. I’m speaking at a number of conferences over the next few months, and many of them have vendor-heavy agendas. To balance all that vendor spin, my talks always focus on how to achieve real business value by understanding what the vendors can—and cannot—provide. As an added aid, feel free to print this ZapFlash and bring it along. It’ll help you ask the right questions when you face that smiling sales rep at the exhibit booth. I hope to see you in London this Friday, Enterprise Data World in Atlanta on May 2 (discount code SPEAKER429) , Dallas on May 22, Kuala Lumpur on May 28 – 29, or Cloud Expo in New York June 11 – 14 (Golden Pass discount code zapthinkdiscount). I want to see you with this cheat sheet in hand!

Photo credit: Jayel Aheram

More Stories By Jason Bloomberg

Jason Bloomberg is the leading expert on architecting agility for the enterprise. As president of Intellyx, Mr. Bloomberg brings his years of thought leadership in the areas of Cloud Computing, Enterprise Architecture, and Service-Oriented Architecture to a global clientele of business executives, architects, software vendors, and Cloud service providers looking to achieve technology-enabled business agility across their organizations and for their customers. His latest book, The Agile Architecture Revolution (John Wiley & Sons, 2013), sets the stage for Mr. Bloomberg’s groundbreaking Agile Architecture vision.

Mr. Bloomberg is perhaps best known for his twelve years at ZapThink, where he created and delivered the Licensed ZapThink Architect (LZA) SOA course and associated credential, certifying over 1,700 professionals worldwide. He is one of the original Managing Partners of ZapThink LLC, the leading SOA advisory and analysis firm, which was acquired by Dovel Technologies in 2011. He now runs the successor to the LZA program, the Bloomberg Agile Architecture Course, around the world.

Mr. Bloomberg is a frequent conference speaker and prolific writer. He has published over 500 articles, spoken at over 300 conferences, Webinars, and other events, and has been quoted in the press over 1,400 times as the leading expert on agile approaches to architecture in the enterprise.

Mr. Bloomberg’s previous book, Service Orient or Be Doomed! How Service Orientation Will Change Your Business (John Wiley & Sons, 2006, coauthored with Ron Schmelzer), is recognized as the leading business book on Service Orientation. He also co-authored the books XML and Web Services Unleashed (SAMS Publishing, 2002), and Web Page Scripting Techniques (Hayden Books, 1996).

Prior to ZapThink, Mr. Bloomberg built a diverse background in eBusiness technology management and industry analysis, including serving as a senior analyst in IDC’s eBusiness Advisory group, as well as holding eBusiness management positions at USWeb/CKS (later marchFIRST) and WaveBend Solutions (now Hitachi Consulting).

@CloudExpo Stories
Today most companies are adopting or evaluating container technology - Docker in particular - to speed up application deployment, drive down cost, ease management and make application delivery more flexible overall. As with most new architectures, this dream takes significant work to become a reality. Even when you do get your application componentized enough and packaged properly, there are still challenges for DevOps teams to making the shift to continuous delivery and achieving that reducti...
What is the best strategy for selecting the right offshore company for your business? In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, will discuss the things to look for - positive and negative - in evaluating your options. He will also discuss how to maximize productivity with your offshore developers. Before you start your search, clearly understand your business needs and how that impacts software choices.
Enterprises are moving to the cloud faster than most of us in security expected. CIOs are going from 0 to 100 in cloud adoption and leaving security teams in the dust. Once cloud is part of an enterprise stack, it’s unclear who has responsibility for the protection of applications, services, and data. When cloud breaches occur, whether active compromise or a publicly accessible database, the blame must fall on both service providers and users. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ben Johnson, C...
Most of the time there is a lot of work involved to move to the cloud, and most of that isn't really related to AWS or Azure or Google Cloud. Before we talk about public cloud vendors and DevOps tools, there are usually several technical and non-technical challenges that are connected to it and that every company needs to solve to move to the cloud. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Stefano Bellasio, CEO and founder of Cloud Academy Inc., will discuss what the tools, disciplines, and cultural...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Fusic will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion 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. Fusic Co. provides mocks as virtual IoT devices. You can customize mocks, and get any amount of data at any time in your test. For more information, visit https://fusic.co.jp/english/.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Massive Networks, that helps your business operate seamlessly with fast, reliable, and secure internet and network solutions, has been named "Exhibitor" of 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. As a premier telecommunications provider, Massive Networks is headquartered out of Louisville, Colorado. With years of experience under their belt, their team of...
21st International Cloud Expo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, 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. Me...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Enroute Lab will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion 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. Enroute Lab is an industrial design, research and development company of unmanned robotic vehicle system. For more information, please visit http://elab.co.jp/.
SYS-CON Events announced today that MIRAI Inc. will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion 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. MIRAI Inc. are IT consultants from the public sector whose mission is to solve social issues by technology and innovation and to create a meaningful future for people.
IBM helps FinTechs and financial services companies build and monetize cognitive-enabled financial services apps quickly and at scale. Hosted on IBM Bluemix, IBM’s platform builds in customer insights, regulatory compliance analytics and security to help reduce development time and testing. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Lennart Frantzell, a Developer Advocate with IBM, will discuss how these tools simplify the time-consuming tasks of selection, mapping and data integration, allowing devel...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Mobile Create USA will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion 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. Mobile Create USA Inc. is an MVNO-based business model that uses portable communication devices and cellular-based infrastructure in the development, sales, operation and mobile communications systems incorporating GPS capabi...
Today traditional IT approaches leverage well-architected compute/networking domains to control what applications can access what data, and how. DevOps includes rapid application development/deployment leveraging concepts like containerization, third-party sourced applications and databases. Such applications need access to production data for its test and iteration cycles. Data Security? That sounds like a roadblock to DevOps vs. protecting the crown jewels to those in IT.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interface Corporation will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion 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. Interface Corporation is a company developing, manufacturing and marketing high quality and wide variety of industrial computers and interface modules such as PCIs and PCI express. For more information, visit http://www.i...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Keisoku Research Consultant Co. will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion 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. Keisoku Research Consultant, Co. offers research and consulting in a wide range of civil engineering-related fields from information construction to preservation of cultural properties. For more information, vi...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SIGMA Corporation will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion 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. uLaser flow inspection device from the Japanese top share to Global Standard! Then, make the best use of data to flip to next page. For more information, visit http://www.sigma-k.co.jp/en/.
SYS-CON Events announced today that B2Cloud 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. B2Cloud specializes in IoT devices for preventive and predictive maintenance in any kind of equipment retrieving data like Energy consumption, working time, temperature, humidity, pressure, etc.
Agile has finally jumped the technology shark, expanding outside the software world. Enterprises are now increasingly adopting Agile practices across their organizations in order to successfully navigate the disruptive waters that threaten to drown them. In our quest for establishing change as a core competency in our organizations, this business-centric notion of Agile is an essential component of Agile Digital Transformation. In the years since the publication of the Agile Manifesto, the conn...
While some developers care passionately about how data centers and clouds are architected, for most, it is only the end result that matters. To the majority of companies, technology exists to solve a business problem, and only delivers value when it is solving that problem. 2017 brings the mainstream adoption of containers for production workloads. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ben McCormack, VP of Operations at Evernote, will discuss how data centers of the future will be managed, how th...
SYS-CON Events announced today that NetApp has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of 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. NetApp is the data authority for hybrid cloud. NetApp provides a full range of hybrid cloud data services that simplify management of applications and data across cloud and on-premises environments to accelerate digital transformation. Together with their partners, NetApp em...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Nihon Micron will exhibit at the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) Pavilion 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. Nihon Micron Co., Ltd. strives for technological innovation to establish high-density, high-precision processing technology for providing printed circuit board and metal mount RFID tags used for communication devices. For more inf...