What would it take for the clouds to rain?

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  1. Cloud is definitely the hot word in infrastructure talk these days, In a recent article by Frank Dzubeck in Network Worldhe discussed 5 open questions that need to be addressed for clouds to flourish most so in enterprise environment with its share of regulations and procedures. before going to address those questions from a technical perspective it is important to also address the these questions from the business angle as the solution often lays there.
    the questions that need to be addressed are: 1. Security , 2. Performance , 3. Management, 4. regulation and 5. variable cost structure.
  2. on the business side – enterprise cloud services are definitely a high-caliber problem to solve with multiple technical variables entangled with legal contracts so reducing it to an evolutionary process by looking at existing services we consume helps to make a tangled web into a solvable problem. adapting solutions from the world of voice service, power services and temp workforce placement services should be the start for where to look for solutions and practices.  for example, the security commitment and compensation question has been addressed and placed in practice for a lot of international companies outsourcing offshore. performance has been addressed in voice services more so by creating a commoditized voice service that allows the customer to switch to a different service provider if he hears noises or long latencies on the line than by any strict SLAs. the management is a pure technical question that assumes that underlying application infrastructure is manual and hands-on and not commoditized in nature like power is.  a century ago companies still managed and created their electric power as it became commoditized, the largest consumers don’t ask for the ability to manage and troubleshoot their service provider’s grid and last to the challenge of having a variable on-demand cost associated with computing, again i defer to the power consumption model which we can adopt in which demand forecasting provides a rough estimate but never a precise one.
  3. on the technology side – we are looking into a new type of infrastructure that has 2 main things:
    1. the ability to apply business policies to applications. in this model the application owner does not just request for features but also asociates service level requirements (latency, avalability, security) as well budgets for running the application (otherwise we know everyone will want a milisecond latency and 100% availability for everything).
    2. application infrastructure has to be automated in real-time based on the above business policies without constant hands on from engineers. in this world the infrastructure grows and shrinks based on the changing nature of the application, the demand from users and the business changing needs.
  4. as we see both the business side and the technology side being sorted out, we will see the cloud starting to reach massive commodity consumption which resembles more of power grid than the manual outsource model it has today.
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2 responses to “What would it take for the clouds to rain?

  1. Yoav, excellent commentary in response to the Dzubeck article.

    questions on your 2 key bullets:

    “1. the ability to apply business policies to applications. in this model the application owner does not just request for features but also asociates service level requirements (latency, avalability, security) as well budgets for running the application (otherwise we know everyone will want a milisecond latency and 100% availability for everything).”

    What technology exists today that would associate ‘built-in” latency, availability and security runtime attributes? Would this
    be an external or monitoring technology like B-hive; or, do you believe it needs to be ‘compiled’ or baked into an application as it is designed? The former would be ‘B-hive” like, and I assume the latter would have to be integrated into a complex application design tool, i.e. Visual Studio? Or do you think it is a combination of both?

    “2. application infrastructure has to be automated in real-time based on the above business policies without constant hands on from engineers. in this world the infrastructure grows and shrinks based on the changing nature of the application, the demand from users and the business changing needs. ”

    I can see #2 as a vision for B-hive within VMWare’s strategic direction. How will the core B-hive technology be extended to achieve complete association of service level requirements across all 3 attributes: latency, availability & security; as well as scaling these attributes for cost allocation and metering?

    all the best,

    Mike

  2. Thanks Mike,
    regarding the 1st question on the instrumentation of the application, given that the application is already instrumented, it adds another perspective that can be integrated in the end-to-end view. in most cases though, the information coming from within the application is relevant more to developers than to infrastructure or operations people.

    on the second question, the same application awareness platform that is used to compute latency for an end-user accessing a transaction can be used to see if that transaction was available and work with security monitoring and enforcement points in the network to assure security policies are being enforced.
    at the end of the day, it is a federated model out there and orchestration is one of the most important abilities looking into the future.

    Yoav

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