The Week in Cloud Storage and Cloud Computing - Industry News and Unpredictability - October 29th
The cloud is a once in a decade shift and the acceleration continues with some people speeding ahead and others debating the differences between IaaS and PaaS. Virtualization has become synonymous with the cloud and this week VMware delivered its private cloud vision predicting the world will evolve from virtualised servers to private clouds. Microsoft announced that Windows Server 2008 R2 will now run in the cloud and compared Azure to Amazon though Platform-as-a-Service vs. Infrastructure-as-a-Service. Microsoft also announced the Windows Azure Marketplace - a marketplace for datasets not apps.
Elsewhere research has shown that scalability is a primary priority.
I believe all of these are related. A decade ago there was a major problem with CPU utilisation. VMware has done a great job solving that problem. The cloud provides great benefits in the form of:
- Instant Provisioning
- Unlimited Elastic Expansion
- Automatic High-Availability
- Available form Anywhere
- No Hardware Maintenance
- Support for Disaster Recovery
- Utility Billing
for both CPU and Storage.
My point is elasticity is very important in an unpredictable environment. The number of users Zynga has is very unpredictable and elastic CPU is very valuable. The number of employees an enterprise has is very predictable and the CPU requirements are much, much more predictable. What is unpredictable or temporary for an enterprise is:
- How much content a user will generate
- How many users will hit their external website
- When will Disaster Recovery be required
- How much temporary CPU and storage will be required for BIG Data analysis and for how long
- How much temporary CPU and storage will be required for Staging and Testing
So this week has brought together seemingly diverse stories and positions that are actually intertwined and related. I believe that many users will continue to use virtualization within the enterprise. As the report says scalability is a primary priority and enterprises want instant scalability when they need it, particularly in unpredictable environments. Cloud bursting of CPU will be rare. However, enterprises will tier content into the cloud with instant thin provisioning being the equivalent of cloud bursting. Enterprises will use the public cloud for large datasets and BIG Data analysis where instant storage and CPU is only temporarily required. Testing Staging will also extensively temporarily use the cloud. Customer facing applications in unpredictable industries such as retail or utilities will use the elasticity of cloud CPU.
Backup data centres are the preserve of large companies with large budgets. The public cloud will enable any organisation to have Disaster Recovery. Companies will be able to backup to the cloud and use the cloud as a Disaster Recovery (DR) site. This way they only pay for DR when they need it. Microsoft supporting Windows 2008 R2 is a major step in this direction. Azure will start to be used as a DR cloud in the future. Cloud vendors will need to be certified on this platform to deliver these benefits.
The cloud provides elasticity and elasticity is the path to manage unpredictability of storage, external users and disasters. The cloud provides instant provisioning, both on and off, and that is the path to temporary resource requirements.
Elsewhere studies from KPMG predict that 90% of executives predict their organisations will use cloud-based computing in the next two years. Another survey from ComTIA show cost as a primary driver.
The cloud is here, the cloud is a great solution to unpredictability and temporary usage with hybrid and public clouds being linked to either internal virtualized data centers or private clouds.
What's Happening in the Cloud This Week
VMware’s Private Cloud Computing Vision
VMware predicts your IT infrastructure will evolve from virtualized servers to private clouds, where enterprise apps will be served to any device from the most efficient location.
VMware (VMW) wants people to be able to access enterprise applications with the same ease and flexibility they enjoy from Facebook and Gmail. That is, on any device, without a thought about where the service originated.
But the market for private clouds is nascent, and VMware’s success in it isn’t yet assured, says Charles King, president and principal analyst for IT consultancy Pund-IT.
Virtual Infrastructure Shifts Toward the Cloud
Virtualization is not absolutely necessary for cloud computing, but it does provide the kind of resource efficiencies and dynamic infrastructure that make the cloud worthwhile.
In its recent Cloud 2015 report, Intel identifies a number of key functions that virtual server environments will need to encompass, including widespread automation and "client-aware" capabilities, as well as a much greater capacity to integrate mobile business solutions into broader data environments. All of this should be aimed at supporting massive hosted environments that can deliver services to large numbers of users simultaneously.
Intel is spearheading a new consortium, the Open Data Center Alliance (ODCA), aimed at greater technology federation that would foster interoperability among platforms without compromising performance or security. The group is due out soon with a vendor-agnostic roadmap said to lay out 19 data center usage models consisting of specifications governing things like infrastructure, management, security and government.
Scalability, Not Cloud, More Important to Engineers
Research study of CIOs and engineering VPs shows that scalability is first priority for IT departments. Study also indicates skills and expertise, much more than cost or location, as the most important factor in selecting an outsourcing vendor.
3 Elements of Good Clouds
We in IT finally seem to be getting to work on this whole cloud computing thing, rather than standing around arguing the benefits of private versus public clouds or trying to define elasticity. Good for us, but considering that most organizations have no experience building clouds, I put together a few items that should be a part of the process:
- Loose Coupling
- Governance and Security are systemic
- Testing and Staging
The CIO View and Cloud Economics
Cloud Computing Grows on Execs: Survey
KPMG polled 174 attendees of the Oracle OpenWorld 2010 trade show in September and found that 90 percent of executives predicted their organization would use cloud-based computing in the next two years, while 68 percent of middle manager respondents said the same.
“The survey results reflect wide acceptance of Cloud-based services among executives, who are increasingly recognizing the Cloud's strategic, business value,” said Steve Hill, KPMG's National Innovation Leader, in a press statement. “Those surveyed also said that experimentation will be required to fully understand the value of Cloud-based operations, and this approach, they noted, will bring challenges that need to be addressed.”
Of the executives surveyed, 79 percent viewed cloud computing as a potential means towards cost competitiveness and 74 percent believed that cloud computing could reap long-term economic advantages.
Cloud Computing Adopters Satisfied with Benefits: Survey
Experienced cloud adopters see public cloud solutions as a significant improvement from their traditional on-premises counterparts, and cite the cloud's positive and strategic impact on their business and IT organization, according to a survey commissioned by cloud solution provider Appirio. More than 60 percent of cloud adopters surveyed said cloud solutions are better than on-premises in terms of availability, total cost of ownership, ease of integration, ease of deployment and time to value.
Nearly 40 percent of respondents said they think future cloud adoption will be part of an overall business transformation, and 65 percent said it would be part of an IT transformation. In addition, adopters labeled many of the most common fears about cloud solutions as "misconceptions." Twenty-eight percent of survey respondents listed cloud security as the No. 1 misconception about cloud solutions, with integration challenges (15 percent) and lock-in (13 percent) coming in a distant second and third choice.
Hurtling Down the Cloud Computing Path
Although nobody seems to fully agree on the definition of cloud computing, both IT organizations that consume these services and the IT services companies that provide them are convinced that cloud computing will cut their costs.
A new survey from CompTIA, a trade group representing IT services firms, finds that both IT organization and IT services companies say the primary benefit of cloud computing is lower costs.
Microsoft Puts Windows Server Instances in the Cloud
Microsoft bolstered Windows Azure with several new capabilities today, including the ability to run Windows Server instances on Azure, theoretically making applications portable between the data center and Microsoft cloud platform.
“Windows Azure Virtual Machine Role gives customers the ability to run an instance of Windows Server 2008 R2 running in Microsoft’s cloud, making it easier for developers to move applications to the cloud,” Microsoft said. “Server Application Virtualization gives developers the ability to transfer application images to Windows Azure, harnessing the underlying management capabilities of the platform.”
Microsoft's server boss talks Azure and more (Q&A)
What's the difference between, say, moving your infrastructure to a cloud-based service--whether it's a storage in the cloud service, or virtualization that VMWare offers--versus moving to Azure?
Muglia: With infrastructure as a service, you're still working and managing the environment. You're still thinking about the infrastructure. In particular, you're still managing virtual machines. With platform as a service, you're focusing on the application. And so that really takes all those infrastructural components and handles them for you.
The second big thing is that with infrastructure as a service, you're maintaining that virtual machine image. You're patching it, you're updating it. With platform as a service, we take care of all that for you. And then the third thing with infrastructure as a service, you're still assembling all the other services you need. You're putting them together, you're creating the images, you're deploying it. And with PaaS, the services are -- there's a broad set of services, particularly on Windows Azure.
One of the challenges with the shift to the cloud is making sure businesses even understand these costs and benefits. How does Microsoft talk to businesses about that?
Muglia: Yeah, they're still all deciding that. We had a CIO Summit here about a month ago, and one of the things I talked to CIOs about was that they have some applications that [are] sometimes referred to as context, they provide context to their business. And they're critical applications, but there's no differentiation in them. And those are great candidates to go to software as a service
What is Windows Azure Marketplace
The new Windows Azure Marketplace is designed to match information providers with end users and developers. It's a core aspect of the encompassing Windows Azure platform, arguably one of the most complete cloud offerings available.
A distinguishing aspect of the "DataMarket" service has to be Microsoft'e efforts to make the platform available to developers and the end user.
Data providers in the marketplace provide information that users may immediately access with Microsoft applications.
But the platform is not to be confused with an app environment. It is a data marketplace.
At its launch, the marketplace included 77 data sets across 13 categories from 28 publishers.
Data sets are spit into categories that include entertainment and media; financier; health and wellness; location based services; mathematics; movies and events; news; points of interest; real estate; retail and merchandise; statistics; transportation and navigation as well as weather.
Keeping Customers Happy - Another New Elastic Load Balancer Feature
We added SSL support to the Elastic Load Balancer a couple of weeks ago. This met the needs of many of our users, but not all of them. Some of our users wanted to be able to tell if the HTTP requests arriving at their EC2 servers had been transmitted across the Internet using HTTPS. For example:
One question. How will the webservers know the original request came from HTTPS?
We currently add the "X-Forwarded-Proto: https" header when that happens.
As I always do, I passed this feedback along to the proper team for consideration. The "voice of the customer" is highly valued at Amazon, and feedback like this helps us to assign the proper priority to each feature.
I am happy to be able to report that we were able to turn this request around very quickly and I am happy to say that requests processed by newly created Elastic Load Balancers now include two additional headers:
* X-Forwarded-Proto specifies the protocol ("http" or "https") of the original request made to the Elastic Load Balancer.
* X-Forwarded-Port specifies the port of the original request.
The Basics of Cloud Computing Explained
Cloud computing is getting mentioned everywhere these days and if you are working in technology or even just interested in it there is a good chance you have heard it mentioned several times. What exactly is cloud computing though? This is cloud computing explained for those not interested in hearing the minuscule details and complexities of cloud systems and their intricate features.
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