Friday Nov 06, 2009

The new Mantra: Consolidate, Virtualize, Automate, Self Service

So, there you have it. Every CIO there is being tasked these days to potentially reduce costs and accelerate the time to market by incorporating this Mantra in their data center. Either by building in-house or by buying the service from an external vendor that offers these features to the user.

Its no news that Virtualization and Cloud Computing go together. Virtualization enables Cloud Computing, and in fact is one of the key under lying technology enabling the Cloud. However, often people are left wondering if Cloud Computing is no more than "Next-Gen Virtualization". In my mind, Yes and No, especially if you are talking about Private Clouds. I got motivated to write this piece to bring some clarity to this topic. 

A Cloud is virtualized by definition, but the degree of cloudiness depends on the level of automation and self service that is built into it. If the offering is a Public Cloud, then it must incorporate almost all principles of a Cloud Computing architecture that include multi-tenancy and pay-as-you-go model, enabled by a virtualized self-service platform with built-in services like billing, metering, charge back, along with public APIs or a Portal for public access to the Cloud. This is much more than an evolved virtualized environment, where you can quickly get a pre-deployed server or a service, ready to use, but does not necessarily have all these other built in services like self-service and pay-as-you go. In fact, a cloud service should be such that it can be abstracted for use on an as-need basis, and not just be a service that can be used over the internet.

In case of a Private Cloud, the users are more targeted and there is more leeway in how much of Cloud Computing principles are built into the infrastructure.  Infact, most enterprises are going with the incremental approach so as to leverage their existing legacy systems, yet begin to harvest the benefits of Cloud Computing. This is making Hybrid Clouds more popular where enterprises can spin off certain type of functional workloads or burst loads to an external Public Cloud. Several Public Cloud vendors are offering this feature where the customers can embed the compute nodes from the public cloud into the company VPN, hence making the public cloud nodes part of the company data center. While this architecture has some security concerns, given the public compute nodes in most cases are physically not separate from other nodes in the cloud, it being a virtualized environment, its still a good mid-way between an exclusive public cloud and a private cloud. Its worthwhile to mention here that there are companies like GoGrid and Rackspace who would offer dedicated hardware in their data centers to complement an enterprise private data center. However, the more dedicated the hardware, less are the cost and flexibility benefits of a cloud available to you.

Sunday Nov 02, 2008

Sun's Cloud Computing Portfolio

Update: Sun has expanded its Cloud Computing portfolio with the recent acquisition of Qlayer, a cloud computing company that automates the deployment and management of both public and private clouds.  The Q-layer organization, based in Belgium, is now part of Sun's Cloud Computing business unit which develops and integrates cloud computing technologies, architectures and services.

Cloud computing is about managing petascale data. Sun's server and storage systems can radically improve the data-intensive computing emerging in the cloud. Some clouds are closed platforms that lock you in. Sun's open source philosophy and Java principles form the core of a strategy that provides interoperability for large-scale computing resources. Sun's virtualization solutions for advanced high-performance computing deployments are integrated with Solaris and Web 2.0 technologies such as Java and MySQL.

Check out Sun's Cloud Computing Porfolio below:

  • MySQL is almost the defacto database of choice powering the web-scale next-generation of database driven web applications in the cloud. Cloud computing solutions for MySQL makes it easy to develop, deploy, and manage your new and existing MySQL-backed applications in a virtual computing environment. The MySQL Enterprise for Amazon EC2 subscription is a comprehensive offering of database software and production support to deliver applications on Amazon EC2 with optimal performance, reliability, security, and uptime. For the first time, organizations can now cost-effectively deliver database driven web-scale computing in the "cloud", fully backed by the MySQL database experts at Sun. You can learn more about it here

  • The Webstack from Sun is the optimized open source software stack and is bundled with latest release of OpenSolaris 2008.11. It is pre-configured to have the most popular applications (Apache, PHP, MySQL) to work seamlessly out of a Solaris box. By using Solaris with these binaries in a Cloud, you can enjoy the best levels of performance, while also reducing your time-to-service.
  • Performance is one of the key metrics that users are skeptical about in the cloud. White its not a critical criteria, they still want to be able to profile their applications running in the cloud. Netbeans  provides plugins to profile your application on Amazon EC2. Check out the steps here on how to use Netbeans for profiling your application in the Cloud. You can learn more on this at the Cloud Computing Bootcamp on Nov. 19 2008.  

  • Virtualization is key to enabling a Cloud Computing environment. The Sun xVM portfolio offers a simple and efficient way to leverage a heterogeneous, virtualized environment:
    • xVM Ops Center Discover, provision, update, and manage globally dispersed IT environments from one console
    • xVM VirtualBox Build, test, and run applications on one desktop or laptop for multiple OS platforms side by side
    • xVM Server Securely and reliably virtualize systems and services in a Windows, Solaris OS, or Linux environment
    • Sun VDI Software Securely access a virtual desktop from nearly any client on the network

Further, Solaris 10 includes the Containers technology which is an implementation of operating system level virtualization technology first made available in 2005 as part of Solaris 10. A Solaris Container is the combination of system resource controls and the boundary separation provided by zones. Zones act as completely isolated virtual servers within a single operating system instance. By consolidating multiple sets of application services onto one system and by placing each into isolated virtual server containers, system administrators can reduce cost and provide all the same protections of separate machines on a single machine, hence making it a perfect technology for the Clouds.

  • Besides the product portfolio, Sun is also offering services in the Cloud Computing space.
    • Zembly is a service from Sun hosted on Network.Com which is a place to create social applications, together.  At Zembly, you easily create and host social applications of all shapes and sizes, targeting the most popular social platforms on the web like Facebook, Meebo, iPhone, Google Gadgets etc. And, you do it along with other people, using just your browser and your creativity, and working collaboratively with others.
    • Project Kenai is the foundation for the connected developer of tomorrow. It allows you to freely host your open source projects and code. Find and collaborate with developers of like mind and passion from around the globe.
    • Project SocialSite, is an open source ( CDDL/GPL2) project for building Widgets and Web Services that make it easy for you to add social networking features to your existing web sites, including the ability to run OpenSocial Gadgets and have them backed by the same social graph.
    • Project Caroline is an advanced R&D project at Sun Microsystems. It is a hosting platform for development and delivery of dynamically scalable Internet-based services. It is designed to serve an emerging market of small and medium sized software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers.

  • Sun is offering Open Solaris on Amazon EC2 OpenSolaris, which comes with tools such as ZFS and Dynamic Tracing (D-Trace), are offered for free, in contrast to some Linux offerings that cost money. ZFS allows instant rollback and continual check-summing capabilities, something developers have found lacking in the EC2 platform.  In addition, Sun is offering several popular EC2 images like Drupal, Roby on Rails, Apache, Tomcat etc. For the entire list, click here.

  • Sun is running several promotions for  hosting Facebook and OpenSocial applications on OpenSolaris free for 1 year with some of our cloud computing partners like Joyent. For more details, check out our Startup Essentials program.

Stay tuned for more to come from Sun in this space.




« February 2017