Wednesday Aug 26, 2009

Cloudify your Enterprise Data Center: Two emerging models

With recent advancements and announcements in the Industry, its clear that there are two emerging models for taking an Enterprise data center into the Clouds.

The first approach "the private cloud", requires an enterprise to purchase "Cloud in a Box" software such as vCloud and vSphere along with virtualization software provided by vendors like VMware. VMware is going a few steps further up in the stack with acquisition of SpringSource which will enable their existing and future customer base to seamlessly develop, deploy and manage applications in VMware based Clouds. The Private Cloud is applicable when the cloud is confined to an enterprise owned data center and provides a great way to scale the existing virtualized customer data centers by adding the flexibility and utilization efficiencies of a Cloud. Vendors like Rackspace and GoGrid are building Managed Private Clouds for their enterprise customers using this approach.

While a private cloud offers the CIO the benefits of a Cloud architecture, unleashing resource management, utilization, and on demand scaling capabilities, it still does not meet the goals of a pure Cloud as it only offers limited elasticity and does not eliminate capex. The enterprise still needs to own and manage all the resources. Werner Vogel has explained this very eloquently in his blog here. Nevertheless, it enables CIOs to better manage existing resources by means of metering, billing usage, and charge back to other business units.

The second emerging approach is that of Hybrid architectures where enterprises can extend their existing IT infrastructure to leverage on-demand resources of an external cloud thus adding scalability on demand. The enterprise continues to utilize their existing data center and augment it by offloading certain types of usage to an external cloud. They can also use this approach for handling the occasional burst loads, and not having to over provision their own infrastructure to meet peak demand. This approach is in line with Amazon's announcement of their Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC). While it has its limitations, its a solid first step in this direction.

The two approaches are complimentary, and can be combined towards building Hybrid Clouds where resources are moved between multiple Clouds seamlessly. However, I see a need for standardization of protocols and APIs offered by the clouds from different vendors before we can offer this level of flexibility to all users.





 [Fig. from Wikipedia: Cloud Computing]

Friday Mar 27, 2009

Sun talks out Cloud: Open Cloud Platform

Sun's Open Cloud Vision unveilled: Open Cloud Platform, an open infrastructure powered by Java, MySQL, OpenSolaris, and Open Storage software technologies.  Open APIs, Open formats and Open source.

On March 18th, at CommunityONE aka CloudONE, Sun unveiled the open cloud platform for powering public and private clouds. We also  announced that we are building our own Public Cloud. This will include a Storage and Compute Cloud. Our Cloud will be compatible with Amazon S3 and EC2 at the API level. Meaning, we will provide S3 and EC2 compatibility APIs in addition to our own, hence enabling an easy migration from Amazon services to Sun Cloud. All clouds - public, private or hybrid, built on Sun's Open Cloud platform will be interoperable and there will be minimal vendor lockin given the cloud platform will be built on open standards and APIs.

Storage Cloud:  The Sun Cloud Storage Service is a set of web service APIs and WebDAV protocols that provide open standard based, on-demand, programmatic access to highly scalable storage infrastructure via the Internet, (" the cloud "). With the Sun Cloud Storage Service you will get:

  • Ability to store and retrieve data in multiple data formats
  • Programmatic web services API operations and administration control, using industry standard that don't lock you in
  • Ability to clone and snapshot volumes
  • Ability to mount cloud drives via multiple WebDAV clients including DavFS
  • AWS S3 compatibility

At the CommunityONE conference, Zmanda' CEO Chander Kant showcased Amanda Enterprise (AE) and Zmanda Cloud Backup (ZCB) integration with Sun Cloud APIs to provide customers with backup and recovery solutions for the Sun Cloud that combine fast installation, simplified management, enterprise-class functionality and the benefit of using open formats to ensure that customers are not locked into a vendor to recover archived data. Zmanda engaged with us to get a Storage Account and were able to complete the integration in less than one week for both S3 and WebDAV set of APIs.

Compute Cloud: The core of the Sun Compute Service is the Virtual Data Center (VDC), based on capabilities acquired when Sun bought Q-layer in January.  VDC is a self service UI for Orchestration and Provisioning of resources. It provides everything developers need to build and run a cloud-based data center, including an integrated interface to stage an application that runs on either the OpenSolaris, Linux or Windows operating systems. The VDC enables you to design applications from pre-built components using drag-and-drop, deploy to cloud, monitor, manage and reconfigure the system, and is compatibile with programmatic APIs. The data center  abstraction layer allows for seamless encapsulation of system architecture of an application, and ability to model, save and deploy entire system into a cloud.

At CommunityONE, Sun's Cloud Computing CTO, Lew Tucker demonstrated a functional virtual data center in the cloud, running the Wikipedia and Facebook design patterns. He showed how to build a VDC using the drag-and-drop GUI interface as well as the Sun Cloud RESTful APIs.

Ref. Fig. left: The tool's left pane lists the different sorts of gear/virtual machine images (VMIs) that you might put into your data center as drag-and-dropp'able objects. The objects can be Linux servers, Windows servers, Solaris servers, firewalls, Web servers, load balancers, caching servers, databases, networking switches and so on. Some are standard configurations that Sun will offer. Others will be built by the Sun Cloud community and published in a catalog that you can use. On the right is a blank pane representing an empty cloud that's waiting for you to drop your personalized virtual data center into.

What happens next could not be simpler. You start picking up servers, switches, firewalls, etc., and you just drop them into the cloud. Then, you connect them. Certain objects like servers can be configured. For example, you can describe a server's processor attributes (GHz rating, core count, memory, etc.) and the resulting pay-as-you-go cost depends on that configuration. More cores, more memory, more GHz... more cost. The VDC is automatically asigned one public IP and the servers in the vLAN get private IPs. The diagram on the left shows the typical Facebook design pattern built using the VDC.

A replay of the demo is available here.  We are blown away by the interest in our Cloud and everyone's eagerness to give us their Credit Cards to get access to the Services TODAY.  We can't wait to roll this out this summer! In the meantime, please keep the feedback coming.




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