Monthly Archives: May 2009

NASA’s NEBULA – Enterprise Cloud Computing for Rocket Scientists and Us…

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A few days ago, NASA announced their enterprise computing cloud, NEBULA.  As importantly, they announced that the NEBULA  cloud framework was to be released as an open source project.  In NASA’s own words, NEBULA “provides high-capacity computing, storage and network connectivity, and uses a virtualized, scalable approach to achieve cost and energy efficiencies.”

Here is the NEBULA platform.

The core virtualization and cloud services layer are provided by Eucalyptus, the Amazon Web Services open source clone.  Storage is provided by the open source Lustre clustering file system, while the core application development framework is the Python-based Django project.  Note that Google took serious bashing for releasing their AppEngine framework initially with only Python support.  Their IDE is an integrated stack of Subversion (source code control), Trac (bug tracking) and Agilio “agile development” project management tool set.   Lastly, the content repository is searchable using the Solr framework on top of the Apache Lucene search engine.

When this is released to the general public as an open source project, will this be solid competition vs. commercial enterprise cloud frameworks such as 3tera’s AppLogic?  Is this even a valid question?  I’ll see if I can find out…

Thomson Reuters Virtualizes – Cloud Next!

 

Christopher Crowhurst, Thomson Reuters’s vice president and chief architect for infrastructure was interviewed for an article in The Industry Standard regarding his plans to implement storage and server virtualization on a global level. With 20,000 servers and over 6.5 petabytes of storage today, Thomson Reuters is a great candidate for virtualization.  One of his coments in this article points to an opening for cloud computing in their enterprise architecture moving forward:

“I think what we’ll eventually start doing is extend this into a private cloud and move to do some self-provisioning for our business units as we get more confident with the management tools in these virtual environments.”

This is a great opportunity for cloud vendors and services providers.

Interesting Cloud Storage Paper from Storage Switzerland/Bycast

Here is a link.  Worth a read if you are interested in what’s going one with cloud storage (aka Storage as a Service).  This is a market that IDC predicts will hit $3 billion by 2012.  The paper was written by Storage Switzerland, but mentions by name only Bycast – so I assume it’s a paid piece.

Enterprise Cloud Summit (#ecs)- Monday Recap #2

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There were several more great talks, demos and panels during the day.  See Bitcurrent for good summaries of each one.  Here are some additional bits.

Peter Laird’s talk on Taxonomies is a copy of the one he gave at Interop in NY this past Fall.  Here is his blog post from September 2008.  The vendor taxonomy chart is included in the post. Also, I was pretty impressed with Mike Repass, product manager for Google AppEngine.  They still have a lot of work to do to get AppEngine to be a major player with the lock-in they require, but their “serverless” scalability model is very interesting.  

I then attended CloudCamp which had some interesting discussions. I attended two breakout discussions – one on Amazon’s new auto-scalability capabilities, and the other on enterprise issues. 

There was more substantive content at the CloudCamp than the Enterprise Cloud Summit.  Hmm….

Cross-Border Constraints on Cloud Computing

At the Enterprise Cloud Summit today at Interop, there were several examples given of constraints imposed by governments on where data and processes can reside.  For example, Canadian government data cannot reside in the U.S. due to the Patriot Act.  Similarly, the French government will not use Blackberry devices because at some point all emails route through the U.S. and also become visible to the Department of Homeland Security.

And it’s not just other countries.  Even in the U.S. there are different constraints on NPPI (non-public personal information) at the state level.  How can enterprises use cloud services where they have no control on the physical location of their data and processes in this patchwork of conflicting laws and regulations.  Can a CIO risk regulatory or even criminal liability against their company in order to get the benefits of cloud computing?

It is possible that over time these constraints may seriously retard the growth of cloud computing on a global basis.  At that point, is it possible that we may see a global treaty effort on cross-border privacy and infrastructure computing?

Enterprise Cloud Summit (#ecs) Connection Issues

I will post more updates later, but the connection here at the Enterprise Cloud Summit (#ecs) makes it hard for me to do full-length posts.

Enterprise Cloud Summit #ECS #Interop Live Blog

Seeing demo now of SOASTA CloudTest seening load test stats for the sample app that they have been working with at the conference.

Panel led by Greg Ness from InfoBlox coming next…  Panelists include Bill McGee from Third Brigade, Geva Perry of Thinking Out Cloud, and Randy Rowland of Terremark.  Starting with “What types of cloud architectures are there and are they all alike?”  Now people are recapping stuff from this morning.  

Lots of vaporware and “vision lock-in” trying to get customers to hold-off.  Geva commenting about billing options for RackSpace or Terremark vs. Amazon (AWS only bills via ccard vs. others who will invoice IT).

“What are critical cloud dependencies… where things could go wrong?”

Geva – lots already discussed by James Statten etc.    Think carefully about who will become hub of ecosystems.  Amazon is there now.  Think iPhone ecosytem effect.

Enterprise Cloud Summit – Morning Recap #1

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This morning kicked off the Enterprise Cloud Summit @ Interop in Las Vegas.  Allistair Croll from Bitcurrent is running the sessions today and started us off with a fairly interesting counterpoint to Nick Carr’s assertion that computing is quickly morphing to a model analogous to an electric utility.  His points about the dearth of standards and interoperability, and the fact that so much of computing requirements vary from consumer to consumer, make sense.  In contrast, electricity is a standard, fully interoperable, and generally homogenized.  

 

Paul Mockapetris, Chairman and Chief Scientist, Nominium, Inc.  “A brief history of Cloud Computing”

Paul gave a talk on the history of the cloud, starting back at the RAND Institute in 1960-62 with their work on distributed communications networks – which eventually led to the internet.  This was only moderately interesting and mostly review for the people in the audience.  His most interesting point was that the bottom of the stack may standardize over time – much like IP underpins all networking today.   The key however, is that users must be free to choose vendors, move their apps, set their own metrics, etc.  

Clouds in Las Vegas, Prague and London – Call for Authors

This is a busy week for cloud computing conferences. If you are attending any of these conferences and want to submit stories to CloudBzz, contact us immediately. John Treadway will be at Interop and the Enterprise Cloud Summit in Las Vegas.

May 18-19 Cloud Computing Expo, Prague

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May 18-21 Enterprise Cloud Computing Summit, Las Vegas

Enterprise Cloud Summit

May 20-21 Cloud Expo Europe, London

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Let’s see if we can make some thunder in the cloud!

Forrester Advises Caution – Vendor Opportunity?

cloudsecurity1In a new report, “How secure is your cloud?,” Forrester Research analyst Chenxi Wang cautions IT to fully evaluate security issues before moving to cloud deployment models. I won’t recap the article here, but it goes over some fairly obvious information about the security implications of any new computing architecture.

There are several vendors with security offerings for cloud computing, and the Cloud Security Alliance has published an excellent Guidelines document to help IT managers make the right moves.  Also, here is an excellent video of BT Global Services CTO Bruce Schneier facing off against Tenable Network Security CTO Marcus Ranum.

The more security remains a barrier to adoption for cloud companies (IDC puts security as the #1 inhibitor), more opportunites will be created for existing and new security vendors to bring solutions to plug the gaps and make IT more confident in the cloud.

Purifying the Cloud

The “what is the cloud” debate continues unabated. I’m a bit of a purist on this issue and am actually going to contradict a bit of what I said in my earlier post “Clouds have Layers.”

If you think of it from the perspective of the application or a set of data (e.g. personify the application and data for a moment), a compute cloud allows me to operate without consideration of where my bits and operations physically reside or execute, and the resources I consume are reasonably elastic – they are cloud-like. The cloud is the container, transport and resource pool.

I would argue that SaaS environments that are contained in a closed private data center container (either the vendor’s own facility, or co-located in a hosting facility) are not of the cloud. Multi-tenancy is not the cloud, though it is a technique that perhaps makes using a cloud easier. A multi-tenanted CRM application delivered as a service to end users can be in the cloud, or in a constrained pool of physical servers under the control of the CRM vendor. It is neither defined by, nor does it define, cloud computing.

Were I to deploy a “private cloud” in an enterprise context, the results would be the same. The developers of applications would see a “cloud” of resources into which their code can be poured that would enable reasonably elastic scaling (up and down) as needed. It could be a native Java, Rails, or .NET application, or it could be an application built on a PaaS-like framework similar to Quickbase or force.com. In either case, the cloud “vendor” in this case would be the IT department. It would suffer from a more limited scaling ability (a massive spike could require new hardware to be provisioned, killing the elastic illusion), would still consume internal resources on physical asset management (negating many of the cost advantages), and may have other limitations not present in public cloud infrastructures.

What you may see at some point is the concept of a “publicly-extensible private cloud” where IT builds and manages a cloud infrastructure that cross-connects to one or more public clouds to manage overflow scaling. Applications are still under the watchful eye of IT, but can use the virtually unlimited public cloud capacity when needed.

If the Future of Web Hosting is In The Cloud…

Enomaly CEO Reuven Cohen makes the case that Cicso, VMWare , Enomaly and many other vendors are rolling out solutions to allow traditional hosting providers to become cloud infrastructure players. It makes sense – the old model of racks filled with your own servers, fixed monthly bandwidth and power charges, and late night trips to replace faulty hardware is going the way of the buggy whip.

So, if this is true, what is the impact of hundreds of hosting providers joining the ranks of Amazon, Google and other “public cloud” providers? Initially, there will be massive disruption and confusion as all of these providers vie to compete in the cloud infrastructure market. Each of these clouds will be separate and distinct, with no portability or interoperability.

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Even now, companies are springing up to stitch the clouds together. The first focus is on independence, with services like RightScale or CloudKick (recently previewed at Under the Radar) enabling portability between clouds. Over time this could migrate to services that automatically distribute applications, content and data across these clouds.

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As a general rule, these services will be quite useful in a number of instances, but will add costs to the value proposition. Companies will have to purchase the unified service through these new vendors. The portability/interoperability value proposition won’t be enough for these vendors to have a long-term business, but they can add a lot of services around security, management and more.

Think of telecommunications, power and other utility networks. Most started off independently. Over time they achieved interoperability to greater or lesser degrees. Ultimately, most of the cloud infrastructures will be stitched together through standards and integration activities to create a single unified master cloud architecture. Some will choose not to join, but you can be sure that a huge portion of global computing infrastructures at some point in the future will be addressible as a single cloud.

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