Click here to close now.




Welcome!

@CloudExpo Authors: Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Scott Allen, Scott Sobhani

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
"delaPlex is a software development company. We do team-based outsourcing development," explained Mark Rivers, COO and Co-founder of delaPlex Software, 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 U.S. Army Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM) has awarded BAE Systems a five-year contract worth as much as $75 million to provide enhanced geospatial intelligence technical and analytical support. The award was issued under the INSCOM Global Intelligence indefinite delivery, indefinite quantity contract.
IoT is rapidly changing the way enterprises are using data to improve business decision-making. In order to derive business value, organizations must unlock insights from the data gathered and then act on these. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Hoffman, Vice President at EastBanc Technologies, and Peter Shashkin, Head of Development Department at EastBanc Technologies, discussed how one organization leveraged IoT, cloud technology and data analysis to improve customer experiences and effi...
The IoT is changing the way enterprises conduct business. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Eric Hoffman, Vice President at EastBanc Technologies, discussed how businesses can gain an edge over competitors by empowering consumers to take control through IoT. He cited examples such as a Washington, D.C.-based sports club that leveraged IoT and the cloud to develop a comprehensive booking system. He also highlighted how IoT can revitalize and restore outdated business models, making them profitable ...
There are several IoTs: the Industrial Internet, Consumer Wearables, Wearables and Healthcare, Supply Chains, and the movement toward Smart Grids, Cities, Regions, and Nations. There are competing communications standards every step of the way, a bewildering array of sensors and devices, and an entire world of competing data analytics platforms. To some this appears to be chaos. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, Bradley Holt, Developer Advocate a...
Predictive analytics tools monitor, report, and troubleshoot in order to make proactive decisions about the health, performance, and utilization of storage. Most enterprises combine cloud and on-premise storage, resulting in blended environments of physical, virtual, cloud, and other platforms, which justifies more sophisticated storage analytics. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Peter McCallum, Vice President of Datacenter Solutions at FalconStor, discussed using predictive analytics to mon...
Dialogic has announced that ZVRS chose Dialogic® PowerMedia™ XMS software media server as part of its latest video relay and translation service offering. ZVRS uses Dialogic’s PowerMedia XMS technology to provide a robust solution that supports a broad range of legacy devices and any-to-any video capabilities with its flagship Z70 videophone. ZVRS selected Dialogic’s solution to facilitate a release of Z70 that met its stringent requirements for legacy device support (H.263 and H.264) with high...
"SpeedyCloud's specialty lies in providing cloud services - we provide IaaS for Internet and enterprises companies," explained Hao Yu, CEO and co-founder of SpeedyCloud, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Your business relies on your applications and your employees to stay in business. Whether you develop apps or manage business critical apps that help fuel your business, what happens when users experience sluggish performance? You and all technical teams across the organization – application, network, operations, among others, as well as, those outside the organization, like ISPs and third-party providers – are called in to solve the problem.
More and more companies are looking to microservices as an architectural pattern for breaking apart applications into more manageable pieces so that agile teams can deliver new features quicker and more effectively. What this pattern has done more than anything to date is spark organizational transformations, setting the foundation for future application development. In practice, however, there are a number of considerations to make that go beyond simply “build, ship, and run,” which changes ho...
"Avere Systems is a hybrid cloud solution provider. We have customers that want to use cloud storage and we have customers that want to take advantage of cloud compute," explained Rebecca Thompson, VP of Marketing at Avere Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, wh...
Machine Learning helps make complex systems more efficient. By applying advanced Machine Learning techniques such as Cognitive Fingerprinting, wind project operators can utilize these tools to learn from collected data, detect regular patterns, and optimize their own operations. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Stuart Gillen, Director of Business Development at SparkCognition, discussed how research has demonstrated the value of Machine Learning in delivering next generation analytics to imp...
The cloud market growth today is largely in public clouds. While there is a lot of spend in IT departments in virtualization, these aren’t yet translating into a true “cloud” experience within the enterprise. What is stopping the growth of the “private cloud” market? In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Nara Rajagopalan, CEO of Accelerite, explored the challenges in deploying, managing, and getting adoption for a private cloud within an enterprise. What are the key differences between wh...
Creating replica copies to tolerate a certain number of failures is easy, but very expensive at cloud-scale. Conventional RAID has lower overhead, but it is limited in the number of failures it can tolerate. And the management is like herding cats (overseeing capacity, rebuilds, migrations, and degraded performance). Download Slide Deck: ▸ Here In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Scott Cleland, Senior Director of Product Marketing for the HGST Cloud Infrastructure Business Unit, discusse...
It's easy to assume that your app will run on a fast and reliable network. The reality for your app's users, though, is often a slow, unreliable network with spotty coverage. What happens when the network doesn't work, or when the device is in airplane mode? You get unhappy, frustrated users. An offline-first app is an app that works, without error, when there is no network connection. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Bradley Holt, a Developer Advocate with IBM Cloud Data Services, discussed...
Connected devices and the industrial internet are growing exponentially every year with Cisco expecting 50 billion devices to be in operation by 2020. In this period of growth, location-based insights are becoming invaluable to many businesses as they adopt new connected technologies. Knowing when and where these devices connect from is critical for a number of scenarios in supply chain management, disaster management, emergency response, M2M, location marketing and more. In his session at @Th...
The pace of innovation, vendor lock-in, production sustainability, cost-effectiveness, and managing risk… In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Dan Choquette, Founder of RackN, discussed how CIOs are challenged finding the balance of finding the right tools, technology and operational model that serves the business the best. He also discussed how clouds, open source software and infrastructure solutions have benefits but also drawbacks and how workload and operational portability between vendors ...
University of Colorado Athletics has selected FORTRUST, Colorado’s only Tier III Gold certified data center, as their official data center and colocation services provider, FORTRUST announced today. A nationally recognized and prominent collegiate athletics program, CU provides a high quality and comprehensive student-athlete experience. The program sponsors 17 varsity teams and in their history, the Colorado Buffaloes have collected an impressive 28 national championships. Maintaining uptime...
The initial debate is over: Any enterprise with a serious commitment to IT is migrating to the cloud. But things are not so simple. There is a complex mix of on-premises, colocated, and public-cloud deployments. In this power panel at 18th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, Randy De Meno, Chief Technologist - Windows Products and Microsoft Partnerships at Commvault; Dave Landa, Chief Operating Officer at kintone; William Morrish, General Manager Product Sales at Interou...