|By Jason Bloomberg||
|March 24, 2012 11:00 AM EDT||
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
Some developers believe that monitoring is a function of the operations team. Some operations teams firmly believe that monitoring the systems they maintain is sufficient to run the business successfully. Most of them are wrong. The complexity of today's applications have gone far and beyond the capabilities of "traditional" system-level monitoring tools and approaches and requires much broader knowledge of business and applications as a whole. The goal of DevOps is to connect all aspects of app...
May. 27, 2015 08:00 PM EDT Reads: 4,753
Containers Expo Blog covers the world of containers, as this lightweight alternative to virtual machines enables developers to work with identical dev environments and stacks. Containers Expo Blog offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. Bookmark Containers Expo Blog ▸ Here Follow new article posts on Twitter at @ContainersExpo
May. 27, 2015 08:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,026
DevOps is all about agility. However, you don't want to be on a high-speed bus to nowhere. The right DevOps approach controls velocity with a tight feedback loop that not only consists of operational data but also incorporates business context. With a business context in the decision making, the right business priorities are incorporated, which results in a higher value creation. In his session at DevOps Summit, Todd Rader, Solutions Architect at AppDynamics, discussed key monitoring techniques...
May. 27, 2015 07:00 PM EDT Reads: 4,558
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, discussed how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money!
May. 27, 2015 07:00 PM EDT Reads: 5,925
SYS-CON Events announced today that MetraTech, now part of Ericsson, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Ericsson is the driving force behind the Networked Society- a world leader in communications infrastructure, software and services. Some 40% of the world’s mobile traffic runs through networks Ericsson has supplied, serving more than 2.5 billion subscribers.
May. 27, 2015 06:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,295
The Internet of Things is not only adding billions of sensors and billions of terabytes to the Internet. It is also forcing a fundamental change in the way we envision Information Technology. For the first time, more data is being created by devices at the edge of the Internet rather than from centralized systems. What does this mean for today's IT professional? In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists will addresses this very serious issue o...
May. 27, 2015 06:00 PM EDT Reads: 882
Want to enable self-service provisioning of application environments in minutes that mirror production? Can you automatically provide rich data with code-level detail back to the developers when issues occur in production? In his session at DevOps Summit, David Tesar, Microsoft Technical Evangelist on Microsoft Azure and DevOps, will discuss how to accomplish this and more utilizing technologies such as Microsoft Azure, Visual Studio online, and Application Insights in this demo-heavy session.
May. 27, 2015 06:00 PM EDT Reads: 5,327
SYS-CON Events announced today that BMC will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. BMC delivers software solutions that help IT transform digital enterprises for the ultimate competitive business advantage. BMC has worked with thousands of leading companies to create and deliver powerful IT management services. From mainframe to cloud to mobile, BMC pairs high-speed digital innovation with robust...
May. 27, 2015 05:30 PM EDT Reads: 679
As cloud gives an opportunity to businesses to buy services externally – how is cloud impacting your customers? In his General Session at 15th Cloud Expo, Fabio Gori, Director of Worldwide Cloud Marketing at Cisco, provided answers to big questions: Do you see hybrid cloud as where the world is going? What benefits does it bring? And how does Cisco connect all of these clouds? He also discussed Intercloud and Cisco’s investment on it.
May. 27, 2015 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 5,822
Over the years, a variety of methodologies have emerged in order to overcome the challenges related to project constraints. The successful use of each methodology seems highly context-dependent. However, communication seems to be the common denominator of the many challenges that project management methodologies intend to resolve. In this respect, Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) can be viewed as powerful tools for managing projects. Few research papers have focused on the way...
May. 27, 2015 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,724
As the world moves from DevOps to NoOps, application deployment to the cloud ought to become a lot simpler. However, applications have been architected with a much tighter coupling than it needs to be which makes deployment in different environments and migration between them harder. The microservices architecture, which is the basis of many new age distributed systems such as OpenStack, Netflix and so on is at the heart of CloudFoundry – a complete developer-oriented Platform as a Service (PaaS...
May. 27, 2015 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,611
The Internet of Things is not new. Historically, smart businesses have used its basic concept of leveraging data to drive better decision making and have capitalized on those insights to realize additional revenue opportunities. So, what has changed to make the Internet of Things one of the hottest topics in tech? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Gray, Director, Embedded and Internet of Things, discussed the underlying factors that are driving the economics of intelligent systems. Discover ...
May. 27, 2015 04:00 PM EDT Reads: 6,400
In their general session at 16th Cloud Expo, Michael Piccininni, Global Account Manager – Cloud SP at EMC Corporation, and Mike Dietze, Regional Director at Windstream Hosted Solutions, will review next generation cloud services, including the Windstream-EMC Tier Storage solutions, and discuss how to increase efficiencies, improve service delivery and enhance corporate cloud solution development. Speaker Bios Michael Piccininni is Global Account Manager – Cloud SP at EMC Corporation. He has b...
May. 27, 2015 03:45 PM EDT Reads: 1,131
SYS-CON Events announced today that O'Reilly Media has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9–11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. O'Reilly Media spreads the knowledge of innovators through its books, online services, magazines, and conferences. Since 1978, O'Reilly Media has been a chronicler and catalyst of cutting-edge development, homing in on the technology trends that really matter and spurring their adoption...
May. 27, 2015 03:37 PM EDT Reads: 386
In a recent research, analyst firm IDC found that the average cost of a critical application failure is $500,000 to $1 million per hour and the average total cost of unplanned application downtime is $1.25 billion to $2.5 billion per year for Fortune 1000 companies. In addition to the findings on the cost of the downtime, the research also highlighted best practices for development, testing, application support, infrastructure, and operations teams.
May. 27, 2015 03:30 PM EDT Reads: 1,146
The OpenStack cloud operating system includes Trove, a database abstraction layer. Rather than applications connecting directly to a specific type of database, they connect to Trove, which in turn connects to one or more specific databases. One target database is Postgres Plus Cloud Database, which includes its own RESTful API. Trove was originally developed around MySQL, whose interfaces are significantly less complicated than those of the Postgres cloud database. In his session at 16th Cloud...
May. 27, 2015 03:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,131
The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete at launch. DevOps may be disruptive, but it is essential. The DevOps Summit at Cloud Expo – to be held June 3-5, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City – will expand the DevOps community, enable a wide...
May. 27, 2015 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,901
EMC Corporation on Tuesday announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire privately held Virtustream. When the transaction closes, Virtustream will form EMC’s new managed cloud services business. The acquisition represents a transformational element of EMC’s strategy to help customers move all applications to cloud-based IT environments. With the addition of Virtustream, EMC completes the industry’s most comprehensive hybrid cloud portfolio to support all applications, all workl...
May. 27, 2015 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 783
In her General Session at 15th Cloud Expo, Anne Plese, Senior Consultant, Cloud Product Marketing, at Verizon Enterprise, focused on finding the right mix of renting vs. buying Oracle capacity to scale to meet business demands, and offer validated Oracle database TCO models for Oracle development and testing environments. Anne Plese is a marketing and technology enthusiast/realist with over 19+ years in high tech. At Verizon Enterprise, she focuses on driving growth for the Verizon Cloud platfo...
May. 27, 2015 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 5,363
How does one bridge the gap between traditional enterprise storage infrastructures and the private, hybrid, and public cloud? In his session at 15th Cloud Expo, Dan Pollack, Chief Architect of Storage Operations at AOL Inc., examed the workload differences and required changes to reuse existing knowledge and components when building and using a cloud infrastructure. He also looked into the operational considerations, tool requirements, and behavioral changes required for private cloud storage s...
May. 27, 2015 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 2,679