|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.
The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform and how we integrate our thinking to solve complicated problems. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, demonstrated how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and ...
Dec. 5, 2016 09:29 AM EST
"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.
Dec. 5, 2016 09:15 AM EST Reads: 871
"We are a modern development application platform and we have a suite of products that allow you to application release automation, we do version control, and we do application life cycle management," explained Flint Brenton, CEO of CollabNet, 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.
Dec. 5, 2016 08:45 AM EST Reads: 793
"ReadyTalk is an audio and web video conferencing provider. We've really come to embrace WebRTC as the platform for our future of technology," explained Dan Cunningham, CTO of ReadyTalk, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at WebRTC Summit at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 5, 2016 08:15 AM EST Reads: 445
We are always online. We access our data, our finances, work, and various services on the Internet. But we live in a congested world of information in which the roads were built two decades ago. The quest for better, faster Internet routing has been around for a decade, but nobody solved this problem. We’ve seen band-aid approaches like CDNs that attack a niche's slice of static content part of the Internet, but that’s it. It does not address the dynamic services-based Internet of today. It does...
Dec. 5, 2016 07:30 AM EST Reads: 976
In his keynote at 18th Cloud Expo, Andrew Keys, Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise, provided an overview of the evolution of the Internet and the Database and the future of their combination – the Blockchain. Andrew Keys is Co-Founder of ConsenSys Enterprise. He comes to ConsenSys Enterprise with capital markets, technology and entrepreneurial experience. Previously, he worked for UBS investment bank in equities analysis. Later, he was responsible for the creation and distribution of life sett...
Dec. 5, 2016 07:30 AM EST Reads: 7,039
20th Cloud Expo, taking place June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy.
Dec. 5, 2016 06:45 AM EST Reads: 1,793
WebRTC is the future of browser-to-browser communications, and continues to make inroads into the traditional, difficult, plug-in web communications world. The 6th WebRTC Summit continues our tradition of delivering the latest and greatest presentations within the world of WebRTC. Topics include voice calling, video chat, P2P file sharing, and use cases that have already leveraged the power and convenience of WebRTC.
Dec. 5, 2016 06:45 AM EST Reads: 1,594
"We're a cybersecurity firm that specializes in engineering security solutions both at the software and hardware level. Security cannot be an after-the-fact afterthought, which is what it's become," stated Richard Blech, Chief Executive Officer at Secure Channels, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 5, 2016 06:30 AM EST Reads: 730
The Internet of Things (IoT) promises to simplify and streamline our lives by automating routine tasks that distract us from our goals. This promise is based on the ubiquitous deployment of smart, connected devices that link everything from industrial control systems to automobiles to refrigerators. Unfortunately, comparatively few of the devices currently deployed have been developed with an eye toward security, and as the DDoS attacks of late October 2016 have demonstrated, this oversight can ...
Dec. 5, 2016 06:15 AM EST Reads: 891
Internet-of-Things discussions can end up either going down the consumer gadget rabbit hole or focused on the sort of data logging that industrial manufacturers have been doing forever. However, in fact, companies today are already using IoT data both to optimize their operational technology and to improve the experience of customer interactions in novel ways. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Gordon Haff, Red Hat Technology Evangelist, will share examples from a wide range of industries – includin...
Dec. 5, 2016 04:15 AM EST Reads: 1,617
Unless your company can spend a lot of money on new technology, re-engineering your environment and hiring a comprehensive cybersecurity team, you will most likely move to the cloud or seek external service partnerships. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Darren Guccione, CEO of Keeper Security, revealed what you need to know when it comes to encryption in the cloud.
Dec. 5, 2016 04:00 AM EST Reads: 4,706
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.
Dec. 5, 2016 04:00 AM EST Reads: 5,409
We're entering the post-smartphone era, where wearable gadgets from watches and fitness bands to glasses and health aids will power the next technological revolution. With mass adoption of wearable devices comes a new data ecosystem that must be protected. Wearables open new pathways that facilitate the tracking, sharing and storing of consumers’ personal health, location and daily activity data. Consumers have some idea of the data these devices capture, but most don’t realize how revealing and...
Dec. 5, 2016 04:00 AM EST Reads: 5,126
"We are an all-flash array storage provider but our focus has been on VM-aware storage specifically for virtualized applications," stated Dhiraj Sehgal of Tintri in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 5, 2016 03:30 AM EST Reads: 686
"We build IoT infrastructure products - when you have to integrate different devices, different systems and cloud you have to build an application to do that but we eliminate the need to build an application. Our products can integrate any device, any system, any cloud regardless of protocol," explained Peter Jung, Chief Product Officer at Pulzze Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Dec. 5, 2016 03:30 AM EST Reads: 944
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...
Dec. 5, 2016 01:00 AM EST Reads: 3,331
Data is the fuel that drives the machine learning algorithmic engines and ultimately provides the business value. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Ed Featherston, director/senior enterprise architect at Collaborative Consulting, will discuss the key considerations around quality, volume, timeliness, and pedigree that must be dealt with in order to properly fuel that engine.
Dec. 5, 2016 12:45 AM EST Reads: 1,577
Between 2005 and 2020, data volumes will grow by a factor of 300 – enough data to stack CDs from the earth to the moon 162 times. This has come to be known as the ‘big data’ phenomenon. Unfortunately, traditional approaches to handling, storing and analyzing data aren’t adequate at this scale: they’re too costly, slow and physically cumbersome to keep up. Fortunately, in response a new breed of technology has emerged that is cheaper, faster and more scalable. Yet, in meeting these new needs they...
Dec. 5, 2016 12:45 AM EST Reads: 1,816
In addition to all the benefits, IoT is also bringing new kind of customer experience challenges - cars that unlock themselves, thermostats turning houses into saunas and baby video monitors broadcasting over the internet. This list can only increase because while IoT services should be intuitive and simple to use, the delivery ecosystem is a myriad of potential problems as IoT explodes complexity. So finding a performance issue is like finding the proverbial needle in the haystack.
Dec. 5, 2016 12:30 AM EST Reads: 6,099