Welcome!

@CloudExpo Authors: Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Kevin Benedict, Yeshim Deniz

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Containers Expo Blog

@CloudExpo: Article

Clouds Should Be Open, Not Proprietary

The Nine Features of an Ideal PaaS

David Young's "Joyeur" Blog

What sort of cloud computer(s) should we be building or expecting from vendors? Are there issues of lock-in that should concern customers of either SaaS clouds or PaaS clouds? I’ve been thinking about this problem as the CEO of a PaaS cloud computing company for some time. Clouds should be open. They shouldn’t be proprietary. More broadly, I believe no vendor currently does everything that’s required to serve customers well.

What’s required for such a cloud? I think an ideal PaaS cloud would have the following nine features:

1. Virtualization Layer Network Stability

Cloud computers must operate on some sort of virtualization technology for many of the following features to even be feasible. But as general purpose computing moves from dedicated hardware to on-demand computing, one key feature of the dedicated model for web applications is a stable, static IP address. If the virtualization layer borks (and this happens), when the cloud has recovered the cloud instances of compute, the developer should be able to rely on the web application just working without having to re-jigger network settings.

2. API for Creation, Deletion, Cloning of Instances

Developers should be able to interact with the cloud computer, to do business with it, without having to get on the phone with a sales person, or submit a help ticket. In other words, the customer should be able to truly get on-demand computing when they demand, whenever they demand. Joyent only began to offer this recently through Aptana and their Aptana Studio product. However, the API is only available to Aptana at this point. The API needs to be publicly available to everyone. Provide a credit card (that works and is yours) and you should get compute, storage, and RAM on-demand. The challenges for cloud computing companies is to figure the just-in-time economics that allow us to provide on-demand infrastructure without having lots of infrastructure sitting around waiting to be used. I think this means that cloud computing companies will, just like banks, begin more and more to “loan” each other infrastructure to handle our own peaks and valleys, But in order for this to happen we’d need the next requirement.

3. Application Layer Interoperability

Cloud computers need to support a core set of application frameworks in a consistent way. I propose that cloud computers should support PHP, Ruby, Python, Java and the most common frameworks, libraries, gems/plugins, and application/web servers for each of these languages. Essentially, a developer should be able to move between Joyent, the Amazon Web Services, Google, Mosso, Slicehost, GoGrid, etc. by simply pointing the “deploy gun” at the cloud (having used the API mentioned above to spin up instances) and go. Change DNS, done. But, no cloud computing company is innovating by providing better application layer solutions. We ought to support the most popular languages and move on. However, for a developer to truly have cloud portability, we need to support another requirement.

4. State Layer Interoperability

This is the most difficult problem to solve when scaling a web application, and, consequently, the area in which cloud computing companies are innovating while sacrificing interoperability. It’s not simply a question of deciding that we should all support MySQL or Postgres because we will find that the needed requirement (“Automatic Scaling”) is practically impossible to achieve with these tools. Amazon is innovating with SimpleDB, Google has BigTable as solutions for the problem, but developers can’t leave either cloud because neither SimpleDB nor BigTable are available anywhere else. What is needed, and I’m looking ahead to the next requirement when I say this, is an XMPP-based state-layer that can flush out to some SQL-y store. Think open-source Tibco. The financial markets fixed these problems years ago. This datastore needs to speak SQL, be built using open-source and free software, and be easy for developers to adopt. The value cloud computing companies provide to developers is running the state layer for them, without requiring developers to use some proprietary state layer that may or may not provide scalability upon success and represents lock-in.

5. Application Services (e.g. email infrastructure, payments infrastructure)

A cloud computer should provide scaled application services consumable by developers in developing and delivering their own applications. There are two types of application services. The first group is delivered using open protocols/formats. Examples would be IMAP/SMTP, LDAP/vCARD, iCAL/ICS, XMPP, OpenID, OPML. All clouds should offer these open protocols/formats so that developers can move between clouds without having to rewrite their application. The second group is delivered as web services, are often proprietary to the cloud (therefore a means of differentiation), and include services such as payments, inventory.

6. Automatic Scale (deploy and forget about it)

All things being equal, a competent developer should be able to deploy to a cloud and grow to five billion page views a month without having to think about “scale”. Just write the code, the cloud computer does the rest.

Is this achievable? Today, no. No cloud computer automatically scales applications. Part of the problem lies in the state layer. Part of the problem lies in what it means to scale. What is the measure of scale? Responsiveness? Scaling the state layer (e.g. the database) is a black art. Scaling the application layer or the static assets layer relies, in part on load balancing and storage.

7. Hardware Load Balancing

The cloud computer should provide the means to achieve five billion page views a month. I picked that number because it is big. If you’re writing an application, and you want to be able to achieve tremendous scale, the answer shouldn’t be to move off the cloud onto your own “private” cloud of dedicated servers. Of course, if the cloud computer is open as we’ve described, you can build your own cloud. It’s also true you can generate your own electricity from coal, if you want to bother. But why bother? Software load balancers will get you nowhere close to the throughput required to achieve 5 billion page views per month. The state of the art is hardware load balancers.

8. Storage as a Service

Storage should be available to developers as a service. Where this is done today, it is done using a proprietary API and represents lock-in. The storage service should allow customers to consume endless amounts of storage and pay for only what is used. Objects on the storage service should be accessed by developers as objects rather than as nodes in a hierarchical tree. This way developers don’t have to understand the hierarchy.

WebDAV could be an open protocol version of the storage service, but fails to provide the abstraction of treating objects as objects rather than nodes in a hierarchical tree. At present, I don’t believe there is a reasonable solution to the problem that isn’t also proprietary. We need to develop one that is open and free.

9. “Root”, If Required

The cloud computer vendor can’t think of everything a developer or application might need or want to do. So the cloud needs to be hackable and extensible by the developer and that means an administrative account of some sort that allows the developer to shape and mold the cloud to their specific needs. By definition, cloud computers must be built on top of some sort of virtualization technology, so the developer never has “root” to the cloud, only “root” to the developer’s part of the cloud.


[This appeared originally here and is republished in full with the kind permission of the author.]

More Stories By David Young

David Young is CEO of Joyent, which he founded in 2004 to provide a comprehensive suite of Internet-delivered software and on-demand infrastructure for small to medium organizations. Prior to Joyent, he worked at Moody's Investor Service (1989-1999) in the Structured Finance, International, and Digital Media groups as General Manager and corporate Vice President and was co-founder and CTO of manageStar (2000-2004), an enterprise services management software company whose customers included TimeWarner, Sodexho, and Global Signal.

Comments (1) View Comments

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.


Most Recent Comments
Genome 07/21/08 11:26:30 AM EDT

Speaking of non-proprietary clouds, the guys at Red Hat have released the first version of a project called Genome. This looks to be an open source project that makes Fedora, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and CentOS clouds using Xen, KVM, and commodity hardware. Here's the link: http://genome.et.redhat.com/

@CloudExpo Stories
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...
"Venafi has a platform that allows you to manage, centralize and automate the complete life cycle of keys and certificates within the organization," explained Gina Osmond, Sr. Field Marketing Manager at Venafi, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"We're focused on how to get some of the attributes that you would expect from an Amazon, Azure, Google, and doing that on-prem. We believe today that you can actually get those types of things done with certain architectures available in the market today," explained Steve Conner, VP of Sales at Cloudistics, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Organizations planning enterprise data center consolidation and modernization projects are faced with a challenging, costly reality. Requirements to deploy modern, cloud-native applications simultaneously with traditional client/server applications are almost impossible to achieve with hardware-centric enterprise infrastructure. Compute and network infrastructure are fast moving down a software-defined path, but storage has been a laggard. Until now.
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that the upcoming DXWorldEXPO | CloudEXPO New York event will feature 10 companies from Poland to participate at the "Poland Digital Transformation Pavilion" on November 12-13, 2018.
Without a clear strategy for cost control and an architecture designed with cloud services in mind, costs and operational performance can quickly get out of control. To avoid multiple architectural redesigns requires extensive thought and planning. Boundary (now part of BMC) launched a new public-facing multi-tenant high resolution monitoring service on Amazon AWS two years ago, facing challenges and learning best practices in the early days of the new service.
Digital Transformation is much more than a buzzword. The radical shift to digital mechanisms for almost every process is evident across all industries and verticals. This is often especially true in financial services, where the legacy environment is many times unable to keep up with the rapidly shifting demands of the consumer. The constant pressure to provide complete, omnichannel delivery of customer-facing solutions to meet both regulatory and customer demands is putting enormous pressure on...
The best way to leverage your CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO presence as a sponsor and exhibitor is to plan your news announcements around our events. The press covering CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO will have access to these releases and will amplify your news announcements. More than two dozen Cloud companies either set deals at our shows or have announced their mergers and acquisitions at CloudEXPO. Product announcements during our show provide your company with the most reach through our targeted audienc...
With 10 simultaneous tracks, keynotes, general sessions and targeted breakout classes, @CloudEXPO and DXWorldEXPO are two of the most important technology events of the year. Since its launch over eight years ago, @CloudEXPO and DXWorldEXPO have presented a rock star faculty as well as showcased hundreds of sponsors and exhibitors!
In an era of historic innovation fueled by unprecedented access to data and technology, the low cost and risk of entering new markets has leveled the playing field for business. Today, any ambitious innovator can easily introduce a new application or product that can reinvent business models and transform the client experience. In their Day 2 Keynote at 19th Cloud Expo, Mercer Rowe, IBM Vice President of Strategic Alliances, and Raejeanne Skillern, Intel Vice President of Data Center Group and ...
More and more brands have jumped on the IoT bandwagon. We have an excess of wearables – activity trackers, smartwatches, smart glasses and sneakers, and more that track seemingly endless datapoints. However, most consumers have no idea what “IoT” means. Creating more wearables that track data shouldn't be the aim of brands; delivering meaningful, tangible relevance to their users should be. We're in a period in which the IoT pendulum is still swinging. Initially, it swung toward "smart for smart...
In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, led attendees through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He looked at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering m...
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that All in Mobile, a mobile app development company from Poland, will exhibit at the 22nd International CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO. All In Mobile is a mobile app development company from Poland. Since 2014, they maintain passion for developing mobile applications for enterprises and startups worldwide.
@DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo, taking place November 12-13 in New York City, NY, is co-located with 22nd international CloudEXPO | first international DXWorldEXPO and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world.
In his keynote at 19th Cloud Expo, Sheng Liang, co-founder and CEO of Rancher Labs, discussed the technological advances and new business opportunities created by the rapid adoption of containers. With the success of Amazon Web Services (AWS) and various open source technologies used to build private clouds, cloud computing has become an essential component of IT strategy. However, users continue to face challenges in implementing clouds, as older technologies evolve and newer ones like Docker c...
We all know that end users experience the internet primarily with mobile devices. From an app development perspective, we know that successfully responding to the needs of mobile customers depends on rapid DevOps – failing fast, in short, until the right solution evolves in your customers' relationship to your business. Whether you’re decomposing an SOA monolith, or developing a new application cloud natively, it’s not a question of using microservices - not doing so will be a path to eventual ...
The next XaaS is CICDaaS. Why? Because CICD saves developers a huge amount of time. CD is an especially great option for projects that require multiple and frequent contributions to be integrated. But… securing CICD best practices is an emerging, essential, yet little understood practice for DevOps teams and their Cloud Service Providers. The only way to get CICD to work in a highly secure environment takes collaboration, patience and persistence. Building CICD in the cloud requires rigorous ar...
DXWorldEXPO LLC announced today that ICC-USA, a computer systems integrator and server manufacturing company focused on developing products and product appliances, will exhibit at the 22nd International CloudEXPO | DXWorldEXPO. DXWordEXPO New York 2018, colocated with CloudEXPO New York 2018 will be held November 11-13, 2018, in New York City. ICC is a computer systems integrator and server manufacturing company focused on developing products and product appliances to meet a wide range of ...
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, discussed how from store operations and ...
Sanjeev Sharma Joins November 11-13, 2018 @DevOpsSummit at @CloudEXPO New York Faculty. Sanjeev Sharma is an internationally known DevOps and Cloud Transformation thought leader, technology executive, and author. Sanjeev's industry experience includes tenures as CTO, Technical Sales leader, and Cloud Architect leader. As an IBM Distinguished Engineer, Sanjeev is recognized at the highest levels of IBM's core of technical leaders.
We are seeing a major migration of enterprises applications to the cloud. As cloud and business use of real time applications accelerate, legacy networks are no longer able to architecturally support cloud adoption and deliver the performance and security required by highly distributed enterprises. These outdated solutions have become more costly and complicated to implement, install, manage, and maintain.SD-WAN offers unlimited capabilities for accessing the benefits of the cloud and Internet. ...