|By Greg Ness||
|April 13, 2009 05:45 AM EDT||
Whether you’re a small business considering cloud services or an enterprise contemplating public or private cloud services, it pays to understand some of the technical challenges and players likely to have a significant impact on the availability, security and costs of those services. Cloud computing is a game changer, and it may also pay to know who could win or lose as IT services are decoupled from specialized hardware in specific locations.
Don’t let the endless list of companies proclaiming cloud leadership confuse you that the world has already embraced cloud; there is a vast difference between using cloud services to deliver software as a service and delivering cloud IT services in a multi-tenant public environment. There is also a sizable gap between cloud announcements, cloud revenue and enterprise-ready cloud services.
Vendors who best address the gap between true cloud requirements and today’s whirlwind of proclamations will be tomorrow’s winners as computing processes and storage requirements shift from endpoints and custom hardware to networks and netbooks. Investors who understand the difference between proclamations and critical technologies will make better decisions. Networking pros who understand the ramifications of this shift will have more influence over their career development.
I’ve been in the networking industry for most of the last nine years, so my perspective is understandably network-centric. My list of critical technical challenges focus on networking, because I think that this area hasn’t been adequately discussed in the haze of vendor cloud positioning exercises; and I think networks will be more strategic to the cloud than they are to the LAN or WAN.
There are at least three network-centric technology challenges when it comes to cloud computing: 1) network automation and management; 2) capacity; and 3) security.
The Case for Network Automation
Virtualization set the stage for cloud computing by decoupling applications and operating systems from hardware. Some even suggest that virtualization software is an operating system. That decoupling combined with VMotion enables considerable savings in how servers are utilized. Racks of specialized servers kept on 24/7 in case they’re needed can be converted into smaller racks of more powerful blade servers distributed around the world to exploit off peak power turned on as they’re needed.
The larger the pool of blade servers that can be utilized as needed the higher the energy savings. Check out this product efficiency calculator at the Cisco data center blog. Today’s network infrastructure (infrastructure 1.0) contains millions of specialized servers connected by complex, growing networks wasting huge amounts of energy, from electricity to the human capital required for changes, configuration and a host of mundane, yet specialized tasks.
The Increasingly Unbearable Human Capital Factor
These tasks engage ranks of network administrators manually managing everything from spreadsheets of IP addresses (otherwise known as IP address management or IPAM) to DNS/DHCP, RADIUS, NTP and TFTP. You can call these services core network services, or one of the last bastions of manual labor and expense in IT. Manual labor gets increasingly expensive (even on a per IP address basis) as networks grow and outage risks increase with every new device and network added.
Committees form as networks grow in an effort to avoid the risk of outage and exercise better control over the availability, security and scalability of the network, not to mention the performance of applications. Yet these committees add extra time and resources and expense to every network change, increasing expenses further in an effort to reduce risk. This “necessary bureaucracy” required (at least with manually managed networks) severely constrains the ability of an organization to embrace the flexibility and consolidation enabled by virtualization and cloud.
While network automation (or the automation of core network services) can deliver sizable capital and operating expense savings it also helps companies position themselves for the coming era of virtualization and cloud computing. Yes its true: some of the most mundane, even boring tasks required to keep a network available will become even more strategic to the next big era of computing.
The Case for more Network Capacity
I’m on a panel in late May at the Strategic News Service Future in Review conference on dynamic infrastructure (infrastructure 2.0), along with Richard Kagan from Infoblox,
You can watch Cisco’s Gourlay (via YouTube) talk about the sheer load, operating and cash requirements (before movement is added) of a data center during a recent Infrastructure 2.0 event. Here on YouTube, about 5 minutes in you can watch Gourlay talk about the new network requirements of virtualization and cloud services and about the load requirements 8 minutes in here on YouTube.
The business case for this level of mobility is especially powerful for the larger enterprise and service provider. And I think it is this business case that will drive the next round of investment in network infrastructure. Cisco’s recent Unified Computing announcement, and recent IBM/Juniper announcements and IBM/Sun discussions all point to the synergy between networks, applications, endpoints and virtualized services.
I’m still waiting for a networking vendor to announce its own branded OEM netbook, similar to how Cisco entered VoIP years ago with Cisco branded OEM phones.
The blade server loaded with virtualization software is called a hypervisor. One of the most important network implications of the hypervisor is that the network actually terminates inside the blade server. This could explain to those preoccupied with the blade server portion of Cisco’s recent announcement how strategic the hypervisor is to the network.
The (Infrastructure 2.0) network will ultimately be built on meshes of ever more powerful blade servers connected by ever more powerful networks capable of ever more powerful load transport managed by new generations of specialized appliances delivering unprecedented levels of automation and management. Specialization will shift from the hardware in the core of the network (starting with blade servers) to the hardware automating and managing the network.
Strategic Specialization Driving Unprecedented Automation and Commoditization
The increasing levels of movement and load and the business case enabled by virtualization and cloud computing will make management and automation strategic to the cloud. That strategic payoff will justify and support specialization while commodity functions will increasingly shift to software on commoditized blades.
Those who miss the strategic payoff of network automation will learn a painful lesson: adding higher velocities of change to a manually administered network drives up expenses and erodes the business case for virtualization and cloud computing. Virtualization cannot thrive on a network run by checklists and committees You can read a recent blog by Cisco's James Urquhart addressing the critical role that core network service automation plays in the evolution to Infrastructure 2.0.
As commoditization spreads through populations of servers and switches and routers, intelligence and automation will shift from spreadsheets and manual labor intensive freeware to a new generation of specialized, powerful appliances specifically designed to unleash the power of automation through ever larger and more geographically dispersed Grids. Those vendors designed in, perhaps through partnerships and/or preloaded software will have strategic advantages over those still caught up in the monetization of complexity and control that played a key part in the growth of the network hardware appliance industry.
We saw the same effect in the application delivery space as load balancers were commoditized and intelligence and specialization were designed into new layer 4-7 application front ends. New application delivery demands forced new functionality into specialized network appliances and established a booming industry made up by the likes of F5 Networks, Cisco and others. New levels of load and mobility will require more network capacity and more automation and management.
The Hazy Cloud Security Story
When virtualization entered the data center it indirectly drove a meme explosion around virtualization security. Those driving virtualization into production were in effect colliding two worlds of IT not used to working together: devtest (operations) and network security. Of all of the virtualization players, VMware got this first and created an ecosystem and making an acquisition that enabled the first serious security offering from a virtualization vendor.
As virtualization is a critical enabler of cloud computing, enabling the dynamic movement of processing power from one location to another (the decoupling of application from hardware), the virtualization security issues only get more complex in a cloud environment. For an entertaining deep dive try out Chris Hoff’s "The Frog who would be King" PowerPoint deck. Or try his blog on PCI compliance in the cloud.
In essence, the very dynamic mobility of a cloud computing environment wreaks havoc on static network security infrastructure. The same old attacks suddenly get new cloud attack vectors and new, ever larger hordes of available treasure. While Google and Amazon often deny cloud security issues by issuing blanket statements, their cloud efforts are clearly focused on businesses and consumers less concerned about security risks and compliance. Other cloud providers may have a similar approach.
That isn’t to say that they haven’t solved critical security issues, just that they haven’t been very open in discussing them. For those of us all to aware of the virtualization security surprise and its impact on VLAN spaghetti (the anti-cloud), cloud security proclamations only deliver a hazy picture of an image that needs to be very clear to enterprise IT execs.
The Triple Play
Looking forward I think the three dynamics of network automation, capacity and security will create new opportunities for vendors and network pros who understand the strategic shift enabled by cloud and the technological barriers or issues. More and more it appears that IT services will evolve and force new partnerships and potentials and shift specialization into new areas of IT that enable greater automation and mobility. That will enable new security and capacity capabilities.
As Cisco, Microsoft, VMware, Juniper, IBM and Sun place their bets in various forms of partnership or collaboration it seems clear that whoever offers the most dynamic infrastructure with the most effective security and greatest capacity will have a strategic advantage selling to large enterprises and service providers. That advantage could put incredible pressures on those who have yet to articulate and deliver on the new vision.
The winners’ main competitors may end up being Google and Amazon instead of the usual assortment of category competitors; as those categories may become extinct.
With an estimated 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020, several industries will begin to expand their capabilities for retaining end point data at the edge to better utilize the range of data types and sheer volume of M2M data generated by the Internet of Things. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Don DeLoach, CEO and President of Infobright, will discuss the infrastructures businesses will need to implement to handle this explosion of data by providing specific use cases for filte...
Feb. 12, 2016 01:00 PM EST Reads: 224
SYS-CON Events announced today that Pythian, a global IT services company specializing in helping companies adopt disruptive technologies to optimize revenue-generating systems, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Founded in 1997, Pythian is a global IT services company that helps companies compete by adopting disruptive technologies such as cloud, Big Data, advanced analytics, and DevO...
Feb. 12, 2016 12:30 PM EST Reads: 258
SYS-CON Events announced today that Avere Systems, a leading provider of enterprise storage for the hybrid cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Avere delivers a more modern architectural approach to storage that doesn’t require the overprovisioning of storage capacity to achieve performance, overspending on expensive storage media for inactive data or the overbuilding of data centers ...
Feb. 12, 2016 12:30 PM EST Reads: 103
SYS-CON Events announced today that Alert Logic, Inc., the leading provider of Security-as-a-Service solutions for the cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Alert Logic, Inc., provides Security-as-a-Service for on-premises, cloud, and hybrid infrastructures, delivering deep security insight and continuous protection for customers at a lower cost than traditional security solutions. Ful...
Feb. 12, 2016 11:45 AM EST Reads: 447
Recognizing the need to identify and validate information security professionals’ competency in securing cloud services, the two leading membership organizations focused on cloud and information security, the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA) and (ISC)^2, joined together to develop an international cloud security credential that reflects the most current and comprehensive best practices for securing and optimizing cloud computing environments.
Feb. 12, 2016 11:45 AM EST
SYS-CON Events announced today that FalconStor Software® Inc., a 15-year innovator of software-defined storage solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. FalconStor Software®, Inc. (NASDAQ: FALC) is a leading software-defined storage company offering a converged, hardware-agnostic, software-defined storage and data services platform. Its flagship solution FreeStor®, utilizes a horizonta...
Feb. 12, 2016 11:45 AM EST
In most cases, it is convenient to have some human interaction with a web (micro-)service, no matter how small it is. A traditional approach would be to create an HTTP interface, where user requests will be dispatched and HTML/CSS pages must be served. This approach is indeed very traditional for a web site, but not really convenient for a web service, which is not intended to be good looking, 24x7 up and running and UX-optimized. Instead, talking to a web service in a chat-bot mode would be muc...
Feb. 12, 2016 11:30 AM EST Reads: 298
SYS-CON Events announced today that AppNeta, the leader in performance insight for business-critical web applications, will exhibit and present at SYS-CON's @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo New York, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. AppNeta is the only application performance monitoring (APM) company to provide solutions for all applications – applications you develop internally, business-critical SaaS applications you use and the networks that deli...
Feb. 12, 2016 11:15 AM EST Reads: 429
Fortunately, meaningful and tangible business cases for IoT are plentiful in a broad array of industries and vertical markets. These range from simple warranty cost reduction for capital intensive assets, to minimizing downtime for vital business tools, to creating feedback loops improving product design, to improving and enhancing enterprise customer experiences. All of these business cases, which will be briefly explored in this session, hinge on cost effectively extracting relevant data from ...
Feb. 12, 2016 11:15 AM EST Reads: 138
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...
Feb. 12, 2016 11:15 AM EST Reads: 260
When building large, cloud-based applications that operate at a high scale, it’s important to maintain a high availability and resilience to failures. In order to do that, you must be tolerant of failures, even in light of failures in other areas of your application. “Fly two mistakes high” is an old adage in the radio control airplane hobby. It means, fly high enough so that if you make a mistake, you can continue flying with room to still make mistakes. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Lee...
Feb. 12, 2016 10:41 AM EST
SYS-CON Events announced today that (ISC)²® (“ISC-squared”) will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Two leading non-profits focused on cloud and information security, (ISC)² and Cloud Security Alliance (CSA), developed the Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP) certification to address the increased demand for cloud security expertise due to rapid growth in cloud. Recently named “The Next...
Feb. 12, 2016 10:30 AM EST
SYS-CON Events announced today that iDevices®, the preeminent brand in the connected home industry, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. iDevices, the preeminent brand in the connected home industry, has a growing line of HomeKit-enabled products available at the largest retailers worldwide. Through the “Designed with iDevices” co-development program and its custom-built IoT Cloud Infrastruc...
Feb. 12, 2016 10:00 AM EST Reads: 124
There will be new vendors providing applications, middleware, and connected devices to support the thriving IoT ecosystem. This essentially means that electronic device manufacturers will also be in the software business. Many will be new to building embedded software or robust software. This creates an increased importance on software quality, particularly within the Industrial Internet of Things where business-critical applications are becoming dependent on products controlled by software. Qua...
Feb. 12, 2016 09:51 AM EST
As enterprises work to take advantage of Big Data technologies, they frequently become distracted by product-level decisions. In most new Big Data builds this approach is completely counter-productive: it presupposes tools that may not be a fit for development teams, forces IT to take on the burden of evaluating and maintaining unfamiliar technology, and represents a major up-front expense. In his session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Warfield, CTO and Co-Founder of Coho Data, will dis...
Feb. 12, 2016 09:30 AM EST Reads: 212
WebSocket is effectively a persistent and fat pipe that is compatible with a standard web infrastructure; a "TCP for the Web." If you think of WebSocket in this light, there are other more hugely interesting applications of WebSocket than just simply sending data to a browser. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Frank Greco, Director of Technology for Kaazing Corporation, will compare other modern web connectivity methods such as HTTP/2, HTTP Streaming, Server-Sent Events and new W3C event APIs ...
Feb. 12, 2016 09:00 AM EST
The Quantified Economy represents the total global addressable market (TAM) for IoT that, according to a recent IDC report, will grow to an unprecedented $1.3 trillion by 2019. With this the third wave of the Internet-global proliferation of connected devices, appliances and sensors is poised to take off in 2016. In his session at @ThingsExpo, David McLauchlan, CEO and co-founder of Buddy Platform, will discuss how the ability to access and analyze the massive volume of streaming data from mil...
Feb. 12, 2016 09:00 AM EST
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, will give 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 w...
Feb. 12, 2016 08:00 AM EST
Advances in technology and ubiquitous connectivity have made the utilization of a dispersed workforce more common. Whether that remote team is located across the street or country, management styles/ approaches will have to be adjusted to accommodate this new dynamic. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Sagi Brody, Chief Technology Officer at Webair Internet Development Inc., focused on the challenges of managing remote teams, providing real-world examples that demonstrate what works and what do...
Feb. 12, 2016 08:00 AM EST Reads: 326
SYS-CON Events announced today that Men & Mice, the leading global provider of DNS, DHCP and IP address management overlay solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. The Men & Mice Suite overlay solution is already known for its powerful application in heterogeneous operating environments, enabling enterprises to scale without fuss. Building on a solid range of diverse platform support,...
Feb. 12, 2016 06:00 AM EST Reads: 252