|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.
As operational failure becomes more acceptable to discuss within the software industry, the necessity for holding constructive, actionable postmortems increases. But most of what we know about postmortems from "pop culture" isn't actually relevant for the software systems we work on and within. In his session at DevOps Summit, J. Paul Reed will look at postmortem pitfalls, techniques, and tools you'll be able to take back to your own environment so they will be able to lay the foundations for h...
Oct. 13, 2015 12:30 PM EDT Reads: 204
DevOps Summit, taking place at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, and Javits Center in New York City, is co-located with 17th 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 wait...
Oct. 13, 2015 12:15 PM EDT Reads: 152
The IoT is upon us, but today’s databases, built on 30-year-old math, require multiple platforms to create a single solution. Data demands of the IoT require Big Data systems that can handle ingest, transactions and analytics concurrently adapting to varied situations as they occur, with speed at scale. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chad Jones, chief strategy officer at Deep Information Sciences, will look differently at IoT data so enterprises can fully leverage their IoT potential. He’ll sha...
Oct. 13, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 745
Developing software for the Internet of Things (IoT) comes with its own set of challenges. Security, privacy, and unified standards are a few key issues. In addition, each IoT product is comprised of at least three separate application components: the software embedded in the device, the backend big-data service, and the mobile application for the end user's controls. Each component is developed by a different team, using different technologies and practices, and deployed to a different stack/...
Oct. 13, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 411
Containers have changed the mind of IT in DevOps. They enable developers to work with dev, test, stage and production environments identically. Containers provide the right abstraction for microservices and many cloud platforms have integrated them into deployment pipelines. DevOps and Containers together help companies to achieve their business goals faster and more effectively.
Oct. 13, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 294
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo in Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 17th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading in...
Oct. 13, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 205
As a company adopts a DevOps approach to software development, what are key things that both the Dev and Ops side of the business must keep in mind to ensure effective continuous delivery? In his session at DevOps Summit, Mark Hydar, Head of DevOps, Ericsson TV Platforms, will share best practices and provide helpful tips for Ops teams to adopt an open line of communication with the development side of the house to ensure success between the two sides.
Oct. 13, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 692
The enterprise is being consumerized, and the consumer is being enterprised. Moore's Law does not matter anymore, the future belongs to business virtualization powered by invisible service architecture, powered by hyperscale and hyperconvergence, and facilitated by vertical streaming and horizontal scaling and consolidation. Both buyers and sellers want instant results, and from paperwork to paperless to mindless is the ultimate goal for any seamless transaction. The sweetest sweet spot in innov...
Oct. 13, 2015 12:00 PM EDT Reads: 310
Today air travel is a minefield of delays, hassles and customer disappointment. Airlines struggle to revitalize the experience. GE and M2Mi will demonstrate practical examples of how IoT solutions are helping airlines bring back personalization, reduce trip time and improve reliability. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect with GE, and Dr. Sarah Cooper, M2Mi's VP Business Development and Engineering, will explore the IoT cloud-based platform technologies driv...
Oct. 13, 2015 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 302
The Internet of Everything is re-shaping technology trends–moving away from “request/response” architecture to an “always-on” Streaming Web where data is in constant motion and secure, reliable communication is an absolute necessity. As more and more THINGS go online, the challenges that developers will need to address will only increase exponentially. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Todd Greene, Founder & CEO of PubNub, will explore the current state of IoT connectivity and review key trends an...
Oct. 13, 2015 11:00 AM EDT Reads: 317
Containers are all the rage among developers and web companies, but they also represent two very substantial benefits to larger organizations. First, they have the potential to dramatically accelerate the application lifecycle from software builds and testing to deployment and upgrades. Second they represent the first truly hybrid-approach to consuming infrastructure, allowing organizations to run the same workloads on any cloud, virtual machine or physical server. Together, they represent a ver...
Oct. 13, 2015 10:45 AM EDT Reads: 227
SYS-CON Events announced today the Containers & Microservices Bootcamp, being held November 3-4, 2015, in conjunction with 17th Cloud Expo, @ThingsExpo, and @DevOpsSummit at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. This is your chance to get started with the latest technology in the industry. Combined with real-world scenarios and use cases, the Containers and Microservices Bootcamp, led by Janakiram MSV, a Microsoft Regional Director, will include presentations as well as hands-on...
Oct. 13, 2015 10:30 AM EDT Reads: 175
SYS-CON Events announced today that Sandy Carter, IBM General Manager Cloud Ecosystem and Developers, and a Social Business Evangelist, will keynote at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Oct. 13, 2015 10:00 AM EDT Reads: 248
SYS-CON Events announced today that Super Micro Computer, Inc., a global leader in high-performance, high-efficiency server, storage technology and green computing, will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Supermicro (NASDAQ: SMCI), the leading innovator in high-performance, high-efficiency server technology is a premier provider of advanced server Building Block Solutions® for Data ...
Oct. 13, 2015 09:30 AM EDT Reads: 203
As-a-service models offer huge opportunities, but also complicate security. It may seem that the easiest way to migrate to a new architectural model is to let others, experts in their field, do the work. This has given rise to many as-a-service models throughout the industry and across the entire technology stack, from software to infrastructure. While this has unlocked huge opportunities to accelerate the deployment of new capabilities or increase economic efficiencies within an organization, i...
Oct. 13, 2015 09:00 AM EDT Reads: 354
As a CIO, are your direct reports IT managers or are they IT leaders? The hard truth is that many IT managers have risen through the ranks based on their technical skills, not their leadership ability. Many are unable to effectively engage and inspire, creating forward momentum in the direction of desired change. Renowned for its approach to leadership and emphasis on their people, organizations increasingly look to our military for insight into these challenges.
Oct. 13, 2015 09:00 AM EDT Reads: 285
SYS-CON Events announced today that DataClear Inc. will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. The DataClear ‘BlackBox’ is the only solution that moves your PC, browsing and data out of the United States and away from prying (and spying) eyes. Its solution automatically builds you a clean, on-demand, virus free, new virtual cloud based PC outside of the United States, and wipes it clean...
Oct. 13, 2015 09:00 AM EDT Reads: 657
SYS-CON Events announced today that Machkey International Company will exhibit at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Machkey provides advanced connectivity solutions for just about everyone. Businesses or individuals, Machkey is dedicated to provide high-quality and cost-effective products to meet all your needs.
Oct. 13, 2015 09:00 AM EDT Reads: 458
The modern software development landscape consists of best practices and tools that allow teams to deliver software in a near-continuous manner. By adopting a culture of automation, measurement and sharing, the time to ship code has been greatly reduced, allowing for shorter release cycles and quicker feedback from customers and users. Still, with all of these tools and methods, how can teams stay on top of what is taking place across their infrastructure and codebase? Hopping between services a...
Oct. 13, 2015 09:00 AM EDT Reads: 557
As the world moves towards more DevOps and microservices, application deployment to the cloud ought to become a lot simpler. The microservices architecture, which is the basis of many new age distributed systems such as OpenStack, NetFlix and so on, is at the heart of Cloud Foundry - a complete developer-oriented Platform as a Service (PaaS) that is IaaS agnostic and supports vCloud, OpenStack and AWS. In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Raghavan "Rags" Srinivas, an Architect/Developer Evangeli...
Oct. 13, 2015 09:00 AM EDT Reads: 289