Welcome!

@CloudExpo Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Ed Featherston

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
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 add...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SD Times | BZ Media has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 6–8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. BZ Media LLC is a high-tech media company that produces technical conferences and expositions, and publishes a magazine, newsletters and websites in the software development, SharePoint, mobile development and commercial UAV markets.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloudistics, an on-premises cloud computing company, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Cloudistics delivers a complete public cloud experience with composable on-premises infrastructures to medium and large enterprises. Its software-defined technology natively converges network, storage, compute, virtualization, and management into a ...
Building custom add-ons does not need to be limited to the ideas you see on a marketplace. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Sukhbir Dhillon, CEO and founder of Addteq, will go over some adventures they faced in developing integrations using Atlassian SDK and other technologies/platforms and how it has enabled development teams to experiment with newer paradigms like Serverless and newer features of Atlassian SDKs. In this presentation, you will be taken on a journey of Add-On and Integration ...
Historically, some banking activities such as trading have been relying heavily on analytics and cutting edge algorithmic tools. The coming of age of powerful data analytics solutions combined with the development of intelligent algorithms have created new opportunities for financial institutions. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Sebastien Meunier, Head of Digital for North America at Chappuis Halder & Co., will discuss how these tools can be leveraged to develop a lasting competitive advanta...
Now that the world has connected “things,” we need to build these devices as truly intelligent in order to create instantaneous and precise results. This means you have to do as much of the processing at the point of entry as you can: at the edge. The killer use cases for IoT are becoming manifest through AI engines on edge devices. An autonomous car has this dual edge/cloud analytics model, producing precise, real-time results. In his session at @ThingsExpo, John Crupi, Vice President and Eng...
There are 66 million network cameras capturing terabytes of data. How did factories in Japan improve physical security at the facilities and improve employee productivity? Edge Computing reduces possible kilobytes of data collected per second to only a few kilobytes of data transmitted to the public cloud every day. Data is aggregated and analyzed close to sensors so only intelligent results need to be transmitted to the cloud. Non-essential data is recycled to optimize storage.
"I think that everyone recognizes that for IoT to really realize its full potential and value that it is about creating ecosystems and marketplaces and that no single vendor is able to support what is required," explained Esmeralda Swartz, VP, Marketing Enterprise and Cloud at Ericsson, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Microservices are a very exciting architectural approach that many organizations are looking to as a way to accelerate innovation. Microservices promise to allow teams to move away from monolithic "ball of mud" systems, but the reality is that, in the vast majority of organizations, different projects and technologies will continue to be developed at different speeds. How to handle the dependencies between these disparate systems with different iteration cycles? Consider the "canoncial problem" ...
As businesses adopt functionalities in cloud computing, it’s imperative that IT operations consistently ensure cloud systems work correctly – all of the time, and to their best capabilities. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Bernd Harzog, CEO and founder of OpsDataStore, will present an industry answer to the common question, “Are you running IT operations as efficiently and as cost effectively as you need to?” He will expound on the industry issues he frequently came up against as an analyst, and...
Why do your mobile transformations need to happen today? Mobile is the strategy that enterprise transformation centers on to drive customer engagement. In his general session at @ThingsExpo, Roger Woods, Director, Mobile Product & Strategy – Adobe Marketing Cloud, covered key IoT and mobile trends that are forcing mobile transformation, key components of a solid mobile strategy and explored how brands are effectively driving mobile change throughout the enterprise.
In their Live Hack” presentation at 17th Cloud Expo, Stephen Coty and Paul Fletcher, Chief Security Evangelists at Alert Logic, provided the audience with a chance to see a live demonstration of the common tools cyber attackers use to attack cloud and traditional IT systems. This “Live Hack” used open source attack tools that are free and available for download by anybody. Attendees learned where to find and how to operate these tools for the purpose of testing their own IT infrastructure. The...
Keeping pace with advancements in software delivery processes and tooling is taxing even for the most proficient organizations. Point tools, platforms, open source and the increasing adoption of private and public cloud services requires strong engineering rigor - all in the face of developer demands to use the tools of choice. As Agile has settled in as a mainstream practice, now DevOps has emerged as the next wave to improve software delivery speed and output. To make DevOps work, organization...
My team embarked on building a data lake for our sales and marketing data to better understand customer journeys. This required building a hybrid data pipeline to connect our cloud CRM with the new Hadoop Data Lake. One challenge is that IT was not in a position to provide support until we proved value and marketing did not have the experience, so we embarked on the journey ourselves within the product marketing team for our line of business within Progress. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Sum...
SYS-CON Events announced today that MobiDev, a client-oriented software development company, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place October 31-November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MobiDev is a software company that develops and delivers turn-key mobile apps, websites, web services, and complex softw...
DevOps is often described as a combination of technology and culture. Without both, DevOps isn't complete. However, applying the culture to outdated technology is a recipe for disaster; as response times grow and connections between teams are delayed by technology, the culture will die. A Nutanix Enterprise Cloud has many benefits that provide the needed base for a true DevOps paradigm.
Interoute has announced the integration of its Global Cloud Infrastructure platform with Rancher Labs’ container management platform, Rancher. This approach enables enterprises to accelerate their digital transformation and infrastructure investments. Matthew Finnie, Interoute CTO commented “Enterprises developing and building apps in the cloud and those on a path to Digital Transformation need Digital ICT Infrastructure that allows them to build, test and deploy faster than ever before. The int...
"My role is working with customers, helping them go through this digital transformation. I spend a lot of time talking to banks, big industries, manufacturers working through how they are integrating and transforming their IT platforms and moving them forward," explained William Morrish, General Manager Product Sales at Interoute, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
The cloud competition for database hosts is fierce. How do you evaluate a cloud provider for your database platform? In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Chris Presley, a Solutions Architect at Pythian, gave users a checklist of considerations when choosing a provider. Chris Presley is a Solutions Architect at Pythian. He loves order – making him a premier Microsoft SQL Server expert. Not only has he programmed and administered SQL Server, but he has also shared his expertise and passion with budd...
Apache Hadoop is emerging as a distributed platform for handling large and fast incoming streams of data. Predictive maintenance, supply chain optimization, and Internet-of-Things analysis are examples where Hadoop provides the scalable storage, processing, and analytics platform to gain meaningful insights from granular data that is typically only valuable from a large-scale, aggregate view. One architecture useful for capturing and analyzing streaming data is the Lambda Architecture, represent...