David and Goliath

May 28, 2014 4:00 pm Published by - Leave your thoughts
David vs. Goliath

David vs. Goliath

In the last 30 days, Google announced they would be dropping their price for cloud based services. This was the first step I have seen to flex some muscle and see how the market reacts. A few days later, Microsoft and Amazon announced they were discounting their offerings as well. Coincidence? I think not. The battle has begun and for some, it is over.

For a while, everybody and their brother was announcing they had a cloud. The running joke was I could get a burger with a side of Cloud, because everyone was building one. I worked at a reseller that was going to build a cloud and I thought the financial impact would cripple the company. Luckily, the owner got sticker shock and realized he needed to do what he did best; push hardware.

These little Cloud guys are not going to be able to compete with the big boys and it will soon become very, very apparent. The magnitude for the financial model to make a profit is well into the million dollar range. If you account for the environment, hardware, software licensing, network, monitoring, and redundancy; it is a serious venture. Once the financial hammer of the “Enterprise” Cloud companies decide to become competitive, the need for a boutique cloud will be irrelevant. If you are a boutique cloud provider; make sure you offer something valuable to keep your customers.

Definition: Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) is a set of infrastructure capabilities, (such as an operating system, network connectivity, etc.), that are delivered as pay-for-use services that you can use to host applications. The Customer is responsible for monitoring, backups, and upgrades of applications. The benefits of IaaS are the ability to deploy assets into cloud-based storage, which includes Internet-level scaling and the flexibility to access software from anywhere.

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This post was written by Gerry Fleming

Private IaaS: VMware, OpenStack, or both?

May 4, 2014 8:01 am Published by - Leave your thoughts


Things are heating up on the private IaaS front.  As of late, the hot question of us has been “What do we choose to build our private cloud?”  Naturally, our response is, It depends.

In determining a direction forward the background of the technology development for each is critical.  For all intents and purposes VMware is a virtualization platform.  It was originally developed to solve pain points related to IT operations, namely increasing resource utilization through consolidation.  It does this very well having long ago garnering the title of market leader.  Administrators are very familiar with ESXi, vSphere, vCenter and the cast of supporting tools.  Extending the capabilites as VMware has matured (both as a company and product), additional functionality aligned with operations:  DR, charge/showbacks, etc., has been added.  The mature set of products lends itself extremely well to traditional application workloads.  Think Exchange, Oracle, and other monolithic applications.  Lydia Leong at Gartner calls this “cloud-out.”  And I agree – originally built for IT challenges now being developed and sold as private IaaS.

Let’s now consider OpenStack.  I’ve heard OpenStack referred to as “more of a project than product”, I believe this to be true.  Conceived and built from the ground up by Chris Kemp and a group of talented folks at NASA it was aimed at solving issues related to leveraging cloud computing:  Quick spin up of instances (VMs in VMware parlance), including networking and storage, under a self service provisioning model.  These environments are aligned with the ephemeral, distributed nature of cloud-native applications and research.  Unfortunately there were other items required for IT (charge/showbacks and multi-tenant billing), and these were added later.  OpenStack and its distributions can therefore be called “cloud-in.”  While we can certainly run traditional workloads on OpenStack, it is not really suited for this.  For example, there isn’t a concept of HA clustering.  Why?  Because the applications must be designed from the ground up taking into consideration that applications and components will fail, and that the data will eventually be the same across the application stack.  CAP theorem in practice.

Ok, so now we know more about VMware and OpenStack and their origins…but, does that really help us choose?  Not quite yet.  We also need to evaluate the business.  Only through this lens will customers achieve the desired results.  One should consider:

  • Is there a deployed virtualization platform today?
  • How mature is the virtualized environment?
  • How large is the organization, and is it poised for growth?
  • What is the experience level with Linux on the SA/IT team?
  • Is there a preferred hardware vendor?
  • Does the organization utilize public cloud computing today, and if so, how and with whom?
  • Is there a significant push to reduce capital expenditure?
  • Is end-user/LOB self provisioning a goal?
  • How critical is multi-tenacy (with departmental charge/showbacks)?
  • Got Windows?

I wish that I could insert a hip infographic now, with which percentage of each client with what amount of technology and different business challenges chooses based on the above.  But it isn’t that easy.  Sure, we se a ton of VMware, and rightly so.  It is a heck of a product and when considering other items (like public IaaS) and it makes good sense.   On the other hand, having an Amazon EC2/S3-like private IaaS cloud is interesting and fits a ton of business needs like a glove – at a potentially far lower cost.  Cool, right?

Summing it all up…the technology direction just doesn’t require a look at the technology itself, but a detailed assessment of the business and requirements.  Depending on your shop there may not be a clear “winner”, in fact the right approach may be implementing and operating both VMware and OpenStack.

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This post was written by Chris Ciborowski