da (IaaS) cloud – thoughts (part one)

I attended a workshop last week and we came to discuss “the Cloud”. Here are some thoughts and I encourage people to comment on what you’ll find below.

The context I am going to base my thoughts on, is the paradigm of IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) [which is one incarnation of "da cloud"]

  1. I really don’t understand the difference between an IaaS (based) cloud and a classical on-demand contract [e.g oracle on-demand]. I am not talking about classical outsourcing here, which is based on the idea of someone running your datacenter for you, or someone hosts your boxes, and you administer them
    1. in both cases, the hardware is likely virtualized and you get a share of it with an IP to reach it by
    2. if you want to manage your deployment, you can
    3. you have some payment model in place (usually based on the power you are using, network traffic, or what not)
      1. can be usage based, or flat fee | rate (that’s what cell providers [ATT / Verizon / ..] do as well btw)
    4. if you need more resources (cpu, storage, hardware) you can get them fairly fast [that is the incarnation of “on demand” :)]
    5. what you have developed in-house (as long as it’s based on what the cloud offers in terms of infrastructure), will run w/o [too many] modifications
    6. you'll likely create some tunnel into your (on premise) infrastructure in order to integrate systems that stay in your home, and
    7. you don’t need to change architecture when you deploy stuff there
  2. Why would you go and move your infrastructure into a hosted environment (= IaaS cloud) in the first place?
    1. you want to scale on demand, and pay the stuff you use, rather than putting boxes into your house that you’ll have to pay upfront and can’t return back (or repurpose) that fast if you need them for something else
    2. the software landscape your stuff runs on does not install / configure in seconds – so you want to derive from a “gold image” that is stored somewhere
    3. all your stuff runs one way or the other on something that can be virtualized (a host usually can’t be) and
    4. likely the thing you put into da cloud is not something that sits in the middle of your IT, and has thousands of connections to other systems in your IT.

Hmm, here is what I use every day …

  • a virtual “machine” on a large scale grid that sits in Austin (that is our datacenter)
  • that is there since 6+ years
  • that I got by going to webpage – logged in, provided some basic requirements, and clicked OK [I would say that’s a service]. Some minutes later it was provisioned [including an OS, mounts and other magic] and I could start using it.
  • if I need more horses, go back and redo step above

Do I use a cloud now? I would say yes – a private one, since 5+ years [called oracle hosted environment].

So what’s the big difference then? It’s not so much about difference – it’s about the improvements that happened over the last years, and the possibilities that open up with this concept. In other words it’s “that everyone can get access to an environment like this in a matter of seconds (no matter where in the world you are, and no matter how small the company is that you work for”) [Slightly paraphrased from Kevin Clugage’s thoughts]

What are the challenges today?

  • Security – and identity in a federated model (how do you make sure that a user coming from the cloud is really the identity he/she says he/she is)
  • Federated monitoring and management. How do you track End2End processes that span multiple clouds and optimize against KPIs and lastly
  • what about the billing model. Standards certainly to emerge.

Let me know what you think, certainly more to follow..

Comments:

Clemens, I hear you. Everything old is new again but as I see it with a twist. One way I think of it is are those that say "I have an MP3 player, I don't need an iPod". Same basic function but with a twist in terms of user experience and flexibility. Similar with IaaS like Amazon's EC2 vs traditional hosting. You can sign on and get a Linux OS on your VISA. Oh, and buy the way, can you include a Oracle DB on that? You also only pay for what you use versus a monthly bill. Different business model. As good an offering is, I have not seen Oracle On Demand with a self-service instance creation with a menu of items. Want a interesting example? I know of some Oracle PM's that use Amazon because it's too difficult to appropriate servers internally at Oracle. Easier to expense it. We live in interesting times that started with IBM's CP and is still changing.

Posted by Paul Naish on March 09, 2010 at 06:10 AM PST #

"You can sign on and get a Linux OS on your VISA. Oh, and buy the way, can you include a Oracle DB on that?" - yup pretty much :-) However I think we have to look beyond the obvious, and I said earlier - a striking one is the ease of use, and the availability to the massed, and secondly - a usage based payment model.

Posted by clemens.utschig on March 09, 2010 at 01:50 PM PST #

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