Welcome!

@CloudExpo Authors: Harry Trott, Elizabeth White, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Astadia CloudGPS

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)

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.


@CloudExpo Stories
"We've been engaging with a lot of customers including Panasonic, we've been involved with Cisco and now we're working with the U.S. government - the Department of Homeland Security," explained Peter Jung, Chief Product Officer at Pulzze Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Everything run by electricity will eventually be connected to the Internet. Get ahead of the Internet of Things revolution and join Akvelon expert and IoT industry leader, Sergey Grebnov, in his session at @ThingsExpo, for an educational dive into the world of managing your home, workplace and all the devices they contain with the power of machine-based AI and intelligent Bot services for a completely streamlined experience.
Any startup has to have a clear go –to-market strategy from the beginning. Similarly, any data science project has to have a go to production strategy from its first days, so it could go beyond proof-of-concept. Machine learning and artificial intelligence in production would result in hundreds of training pipelines and machine learning models that are continuously revised by teams of data scientists and seamlessly connected with web applications for tenants and users.
"We're here to tell the world about our cloud-scale infrastructure that we have at Juniper combined with the world-class security that we put into the cloud," explained Lisa Guess, VP of Systems Engineering at Juniper Networks, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
"I will be talking about ChatOps and ChatOps as a way to solve some problems in the DevOps space," explained Himanshu Chhetri, CTO of Addteq, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
"We are an IT services solution provider and we sell software to support those solutions. Our focus and key areas are around security, enterprise monitoring, and continuous delivery optimization," noted John Balsavage, President of A&I Solutions, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Your homes and cars can be automated and self-serviced. Why can't your storage? From simply asking questions to analyze and troubleshoot your infrastructure, to provisioning storage with snapshots, recovery and replication, your wildest sci-fi dream has come true. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Dan Florea, Director of Product Management at Tintri, provided a ChatOps demo where you can talk to your storage and manage it from anywhere, through Slack and similar services with...
The financial services market is one of the most data-driven industries in the world, yet it’s bogged down by legacy CPU technologies that simply can’t keep up with the task of querying and visualizing billions of records. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Karthik Lalithraj, a Principal Solutions Architect at Kinetica, discussed how the advent of advanced in-database analytics on the GPU makes it possible to run sophisticated data science workloads on the same database that is housing the rich...
DevOps at Cloud Expo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 21st Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. 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 w...
"We want to show that our solution is far less expensive with a much better total cost of ownership so we announced several key features. One is called geo-distributed erasure coding, another is support for KVM and we introduced a new capability called Multi-Part," explained Tim Desai, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Hitachi Data Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
There is a huge demand for responsive, real-time mobile and web experiences, but current architectural patterns do not easily accommodate applications that respond to events in real time. Common solutions using message queues or HTTP long-polling quickly lead to resiliency, scalability and development velocity challenges. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ryland Degnan, a Senior Software Engineer on the Netflix Edge Platform team, will discuss how by leveraging a reactive stream-based protocol,...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SkyScale 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. SkyScale is a world-class provider of cloud-based, ultra-fast multi-GPU hardware platforms for lease to customers desiring the fastest performance available as a service anywhere in the world. SkyScale builds, configures, and manages dedicated systems strategically located in maximum-securit...
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, presented an industry answer to the common question, “Are you running IT operations as efficiently and as cost effectively as you need to?” He then expounded on the industry issues he frequently came up against as an analyst, and ...
DX World EXPO, LLC., a Lighthouse Point, Florida-based startup trade show producer and the creator of "DXWorldEXPO® - Digital Transformation Conference & Expo" has announced its executive management team. The team is headed by Levent Selamoglu, who has been named CEO. "Now is the time for a truly global DX event, to bring together the leading minds from the technology world in a conversation about Digital Transformation," he said in making the announcement.
With tough new regulations coming to Europe on data privacy in May 2018, Calligo will explain why in reality the effect is global and transforms how you consider critical data. EU GDPR fundamentally rewrites the rules for cloud, Big Data and IoT. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Adam Ryan, Vice President and General Manager EMEA at Calligo, will examine the regulations and provide insight on how it affects technology, challenges the established rules and will usher in new levels of diligence...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 21st Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the most profound change in personal and enterprise IT since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago. All major researchers estimate there will be tens of billions devic...
"The Striim platform is a full end-to-end streaming integration and analytics platform that is middleware that covers a lot of different use cases," explained Steve Wilkes, Founder and CTO at Striim, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 20th Cloud Expo, held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
What sort of WebRTC based applications can we expect to see over the next year and beyond? One way to predict development trends is to see what sorts of applications startups are building. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Arin Sime, founder of WebRTC.ventures, discussed the current and likely future trends in WebRTC application development based on real requests for custom applications from real customers, as well as other public sources of information.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Calligo, an innovative cloud service provider offering mid-sized companies the highest levels of data privacy and security, 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. Calligo offers unparalleled application performance guarantees, commercial flexibility and a personalised support service from its globally located cloud plat...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Massive Networks 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. Massive Networks mission is simple. To help your business operate seamlessly with fast, reliable, and secure internet and network solutions. Improve your customer's experience with outstanding connections to your cloud.