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DevOps and the Cloud

June 18, 2012 2:05 pm by Edwin Schouten                                         

                                                                                         

One of the hot topics around these days in IT is DevOps. But what is it exactly, why would I want it, and if so, how do I get it? This blog posting discusses these three questions; it’s up to you to decide when you start using it.

What is it?

Are you, as developers, fed up with the operations group that doesn’t understand your coding, while taking all the time in the world to make a mess of implementing your application? Or are you from operations, frustrated that you’ve been given a half-developed, half-tested application that needs to be implemented without proper documentation? Or are you from the business side, overlooking the struggle between development and operations while wondering why it all takes so long to get this not-too-difficult request implemented? For all of you; DevOps is here!

The name DevOps is derived from a combination of the two words development and operations. DevOps is more than a new development methodology like agile software development, it’s about communication and collaboration between all three stated stakeholders (development, operations, and business) within an organization. It is mainly targeted at product delivery, quality testing, feature development, and maintenance releases in order to improve reliability, security, and faster development and deployment cycles. To support DevOps, collaborative tools are needed to support the agile service delivery approach, accelerating application deployment from weeks to minutes.

DevOps has received increased attention over the last year or so, which makes perfect sense for two reasons: the application landscapes are becoming increasingly complex, the time-to-market of new functionality needs to be decreased. Organizations need to reduce cost while maintaining a satisfactory level of quality — is DevOps a solution to this problem?

Why would I want it?

An IBM CIO study of hundreds of companies revealed that a number of organizations are struggling to just get their software into production consistently. In fact, 50 percent of deployed applications must be rolled back, with rework accounting for more than 30 percent of project costs. Ultimately, the driver is to reduce the costs of managing applications while keeping agile to be able to quickly respond to market demand.

As Werner Vogels, the CTO of Amazon, explains in his presentation in 2011 for HackFwd video (at minutes 3:00 – 5:00), Amazon struggled with the exact same problem: an immense unmanageable application landscape. The solution as he explains it is that each service (set of functionalities) is developed and operated by a small team that can be no larger than it can be fed on two pizzas. Even shorter is “you build it, you run it.”

Now I’m not saying that every organization should do the exact same, but the underlying thought is DevOps. Make functionality and maintainability a shared developers/operations responsibility, supported by focusing on inter-team collaboration and communication. 

As Ovum, an organization that provides clients with independent and objective analysis, describes it in its article: “The solution is to provide both teams with a shared objective that is described in business outcomes. This comes from a governance layer that must mandate the behaviours. The roadmaps and demos shown at Pulse indicate that IBM clearly “gets” this and is working to bridge the gap between development and operations at all levels”.

How do I start using it?

Back in February 2011 an excellent white paper Collaborative DevOps with Rational and Tivoli was made available. It described the challenges that exist between development and operations. It also described how integrations between products from IBM Rational and IBM Tivoli support effective collaboration to achieve improved accuracy, efficiency, agility, and security in the deployment and monitoring of software systems. The scope of the paper spans the areas of strategic planning, deployment planning, automation, and the identification and remediation of production problems.

Sure you can implement DevOps tools yourself in your own data center, but wouldn’t it be great to get this “as a service” from the cloud? No hardware, installation, or licenses to worry about. No long-term investments needed. Just switch it on and start using it. This is now possible using IBM SmartCloud Application Services. At the platform as a service web page, click the picture (4:08) shown on the right [i1] to obtain a quick but thorough understanding of how DevOps can work for your business as offered from the IBM SmartCloud.

And what’s even better; you can register now for the pilot program for IBM SmartCloud Application Services to be able to use DevOps from the cloud! Just navigate to IBM SmartCloud and follow the instructions — it’s that simple.

Still hungry for more? Go to the IBM SmartCloud Continuous Delivery web page that holds a wealth of information about DevOps and the various implementation scenarios.

About Edwin Schouten

Edwin is the Cloud Services Leader for IBM Global Technology Services in the Benelux region (Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg) and IT Architect by hart. Edwin has almost 15 years experience in IT, of which the last 8 years in IT Architecture, which is backed-up with a Masters of Science degree in IT Architecture. He is an optimist by nature, analytic but realistic and has a can-do mentality. He has an ever growing drive to add business value using IT, that’s also where his biggest strength comes in; the ability to communicate with both business and IT.                                                         

                


Devops is a Verb

posted on Wednesday, June 20, 2012 4:28 AM                                                 

                                

#devops Devops is not something you build, it’s something you do

Operations is increasingly responsible for deploying and managing applications within this architecture, requiring traditionally developer-oriented skills like integration, programming and testing as well as greater collaboration to meet business and operational goals for performance, security, and availability. To maintain the economy of scale necessary to keep up with the volatility of modern data center environments, operations is adopting modern development methodologies and practices.

cloud computing and virtualization have elevated the API as the next generation management paradigm across IT, driven by the proliferation of virtualization and pressure on IT to become more efficient. In response, infrastructure is becoming more programmable, allowing IT to automate, integrate and manage continuous delivery of applications within the context of an overarching operational framework. 

The role of infrastructure vendors in devops is to enable the automation, integration, and lifecycle management of applications and infrastructure services through APIs, programmable interfaces and reusable services. By embracing the toolsets, APIs, and methodologies of devops, infrastructure vendors can enable IT to create repeatable processes with faster feedback mechanisms that support the continuous and dynamic delivery cycle required to achieve efficiency and stability within operations.

DEVOPS MORE THAN ORCHESTRATING VM PROVISIONING

Most of the attention paid to devops today is focused on automating the virtual machine provisioning process. Do you use scripts? Cloned images? Boot scripts or APIs? Open Source tools?

But devops is more than that and it’s not what you use. You don’t suddenly get to claim you’re “doing devops” because you use a framework instead of custom scripts, or vice-versa. Devops is a broader, iterative agile methodology that enables refinement and eventually optimization of operational processes. Devops is lifecycle management with the goal of continuous delivery of applications achieved through the discovery, refinement and optimization of repeatable processes. Those processes must necessarily extend beyond the virtual machine. The bulk of time required to deploy an application to the end-user lies not in provisioning it, but in provisioning it in the context of the entire application delivery chain.

Security, access, web application security, load balancing, acceleration, optimization. These are the services that comprise an application delivery network, through which the application is secured, optimized and accelerated. These services must be defined and provisioned as well. Through the iterative development of the appropriate (read: most optimal) policies to deliver specific applications, devops is able to refine the policies and the process until it is repeatable.

Like enterprise architects, devops practitioners will see patterns emerge from the repetition that clearly indicate an ability to reuse operational processes and make them repeatable. Codifying in some way these patterns shortens the overall process. Iterations refine until the process is optimized and applications can be completely deployed in as short a time as possible. And like enterprise architects, devops practitioners know that these processes span the silos that exist in data centers today. From development to security to the network; the process of deploying an application to the end-user requires components from each of these concerns and thus devops must figure out how to build bridges between the ivory towers of the data center. Devops must discern how best to integrate processes from each concern into a holistic, application-focused operational deployment process.

To achieve this, infrastructure must be programmable, it must present the means by which it can be included the processes. We know, for example, that there are over 1200 network attributes spanning multiple concerns that must be configured in the application delivery network to successfully deploy Microsoft Exchange to ensure it is secure, fast and available. Codifying that piece of the deployment equation as a repeatable, automated process goes a long way toward reducing the average time to end-user from 3 months down to something more acceptable.

Infrastructure vendors must seek to aid those on their devops journey by not only providing the APIs and programmable interfaces, but actively building an ecosystem of devops-focused solutions that can be delivered to devops practitioners. It is not enough to say “here is an API”, go forth and integrate. Devops practitioners are not developers, and while an API in some cases may be exactly what is required, more often than not organizations are adopting platforms and frameworks through which devops will be executed. Infrastructure vendors must recognize this reality and cooperatively develop the integrations and the means to codify repeatable patterns. The collaboration across silos in the data center is difficult, but necessary. Infrastructure vendors who cross market lines, as it were, to cooperatively develop integrations that address the technological concerns of collaboration will make the people and process collaboration responsibility of devops a much less difficult task.

Devops is not something you build, it’s something you do.

Lori MacVittie is responsible for education and evangelism of application services available across F5’s entire product suite. Her role includes authorship of technical materials and participation in a number of community-based forums and industry standards organizations, among other efforts. MacVittie has extensive programming experience as an application architect, as well as network and systems development and administration expertise. Prior to joining F5, MacVittie was an award-winning Senior Technology Editor at Network Computing Magazine, where she conducted product research and evaluation focused on integration with application and network architectures, and authored articles on a variety of topics aimed at IT professionals. Her most recent area of focus included SOA-related products and architectures. She holds a B.S. in Information and Computing Science from the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay, and an M.S. in Computer Science from Nova Southeastern University.


I’ve virtualized my systems…isn’t that a cloud?

April 17, 2012 2:12 pm by Joe Bohn                                         

                                                                                         

When many people think of cloud computing they immediately think of virtualization and virtual machines in particular.   This is completely natural and not at all surprising.  After all, one of the core underlying technologies used in cloud computing is virtualization.  However, it is important not to confuse one element of cloud computing with the entire thing – and this can sometimes happen.  Actually, I don’t really think people literally confuse virtualization with cloud computing – but I have heard people refer to their collection of virtual images as their “private cloud.”   They are too easily satisfied and view their collection of virtual machines as being “good enough.”  They don’t see how moving to a real cloud – private, public, or hybrid – could transform their data center.  They are greatly mistaken.

First, let’s consider what is typically meant by cloud computing.  I think we need an impartial definition here so let’s look at what has been produced by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).  It’s their job to define standards and guidelines, including minimum requirements, for use in federal agencies and nongovernmental organizations.   NIST published this definition of cloud computing in September of 2011. The definition is very complete and yet also concise (just two real pages of definition).  They define the five essential characteristics of the cloud model: three service models and four deployment models.

Let’s start by looking at the essential characteristics:

So, for a solution to be called a cloud it should meet these essential characteristics.  In this list, it is clear that managing a collection of virtual machines is certainly not a cloud.  You must be able to have resources allocated when they are needed and in a self-service fashion.  You must be able to do this from anywhere with broad network access.  You must provide resource pooling for use by multiple consumers in a multitenant model based upon consumer demand.  Indeed, virtualization certainly comes into play with resource pooling – but only to the extent that it can be leveraged to easily manage and move workloads.  The consumers should not even be concerned with the physical location of the workloads.  Elasticity is imperative and must be supported to both scale outward and inward as demand dictates, optimally in an automatic fashion.  This is something not easily done when you are just managing virtual machines.  Finally, the ability to measure usage of the services is important and should provide transparency for both the provider and consumer of the utilized service.

The NIST also defines the three primary service models: software as a service (SaaS), platform as a service (PaaS), and infrastructure as a service (IaaS); and also four primary deployment models:  private cloud, community cloud, public cloud, and hybrid cloud.

So I think this gives us a good working model for cloud computing and the value that it can bring over only virtual machines.   That isn’t to say that virtualization isn’t important.   I think it is very important for cloud computing – bordering on critical.  It’s just that virtualization must be thought of within this broader notion of cloud computing to gain all of the value that this new paradigm has to offer.  We’ve been aware of this for some time at IBM and you can easily see it in the solutions that we’ve delivered for both private and public clouds.   I think our competitors are just now starting to see this too and are beginning to think beyond only virtual machines.   But there are many differences between our cloud solutions and those of our competitors.  One element is that our competitors are often focused only on their particular hypervisor (virtualization infrastructure) technologies to facilitate cloud solutions; IBM, however, gives you a choice.

The next question that I think you should ask is – “what role does virtualization play in the cloud and what exactly is it that I should virtualize?”   You can probably guess that it is more than only virtual machines.   At IBM, we have always been taking the broader view – looking beyond where we are today so that we are prepared for tomorrow.

So what does it mean to take a broader view of virtualization?  At its core, virtualization is about introducing a level of abstraction between the producer and the consumer of something.  We began this journey by virtualizing the hardware – memory, CPU, storage, networking, and others.  This led to virtual machines combining these building blocks typically with an operating system.

Let’s not stop there – we can do so much more as we move up the software stack. For example, IBM Workload Deployer and its predecessor the WebSphere Cloudburst Appliance have provided what we call Virtual System Patterns for three years now.  The motivation behind this is that – although virtual machines are great – there are very few business solutions that are only dependent upon a single virtual machine running some software.

We saw a need to create an abstraction of a complete system with multiple federated machines to support complete application solutions provisioned as a single entity.  We provide  deep integration for complete systems built upon standards to support middleware provisioning; leveraging best practices, and based on our years of customer experience.   We also provide utilities in an open, extendable structure to support customization and integration of third-party solutions.  This is all accomplished using a patterns-based approach with a very simple drag-and-drop interface.  Once more, our competitors are just starting to play catch-up here by introducing similar concepts with graphical user interfaces that allow you to build topologies of virtual systems.  It’s amusing to see how similar they look to what we’ve had for years.  I guess imitation really is the most sincere form of flattery.

Once again, we didn’t stop there.  We took the abstraction up a level higher and introduced application virtualization last year in our IBM Workload Deployer private cloud management solution.  By application virtualization I mean providing the capabilities to abstract the application from the underlying infrastructure such that it can be elastic, highly available, and provide agility across a pool of application infrastructure resources.

This type of application virtualization is built into our virtual application pattern (hence the name) – an application-centric way of defining, provisioning, and managing the complete lifecycle of your application.   Features such as elasticity of the application itself and shared services to support non-functional requirements are delivered in policies using common metrics such as response time service level agreements (SLA).  Requirements that are common for nearly any application, such as high availability, are “baked” right into the solution without any definition required.  Virtual application patterns support specific types of applications in a highly integrated solution – integrated both on the front-end user interface, and on the back-end implementation of the running systems.  Management is from an application perspective – not focused on the various middle components that are necessary to support the application.  This a true platform as a service (PaaS) solution where IBM Workload Deployer dynamically builds the necessary platform infrastructure to support the specific needs of the application.  I don’t see anything similar in scope and user simplicity from our competitors – they’ll be playing catch-up yet again.

So this is what cloud computing is all about.  It is about much more than simply virtualization – it is about transforming the data center.   It is about innovation and simplicity.  IBM is including intelligence into the solutions that we provide and integrating the expertise we have gained over years of experience right into those solutions to simplify IT for our customers.   We are providing our customers with the IT for their business so that they don’t have to be in the business of IT themselves.

But we’re not done yet!  You’ve no doubt heard a lot of buzz about our recently announced expert integrated systems – and in particular IBM PureApplication System – a system with built-in expertise, integrated by design, and a simplified experience.  As you can see we’ve been on this mission for a while and we’re continuing to build our expertise and knowledge into these systems to simplify IT. IBM PureSystems is here! To find out more visit http://ibm.co/HxXzwB.

                                                                                                  

Joe Bohn is a senior software architect at IBM. He is currently serving as a technical evangelist for WebSphere cloud computing. Before becoming a technical evangelist, he represented IBM on OSGi Alliance specifications and open source projects including Apache Aries and Apache Geronimo. Prior to these activities he worked in multiple product areas within IBM as architect, designer, team lead, and developer on a variety of IBM products including the Integrated Solutions Console, Tivoli Presentation Services, and multiple Tivoli solutions.                                                                                         


End-to-End Cloud Offerings for Large Enterprises

Cloud Computing Journal

By Srinivasan Sundara Rajan

With cloud adoption becoming a de-facto option for small and medium enterprises, large enterprises are relatively slower in their adoption of cloud. The main reason is that large enterprises have a very complex existing IT setup and no single offering from various cloud providers has yet to satisfy all their needs.

However we find the recent announcements and offerings from IBM provide a perfect platform for large enterprises to on board to Cloud to make their businesses more agile.

Blueprint of Large Enterprises on Cloud-Enabled IT

The following reference architecture provides an overview of how the large enterprises would like to position their cloud-enabled IT so that they get best of their traditional operations while merging with the benefits of cloud.

Mission-Critical Workloads

These will be bread and butter for any large enterprise IT. For example if the enterprise is in the telecom domain, the workloads like provisioning, billing and network management will be a part of this workload category. If the enterprise is from the manufacturing domain, then product life cycle management, warranty analysis, supply chain management will be a part of this.

Large enterprises' utmost concern is the proper functioning of these workloads. Typically enterprises will receive the maximum benefit if these workloads are moved to private clouds which can handle heterogeneous platforms like mainframe, Unix flavors, Linux and Windows. Typically enterprises would like this workload to run without any changes even after migration to cloud.

Elastic Workloads

This is the new terminology coined to represent the workloads, which may not be 100% mission-critical for the enterprises, but are still important, but whose processing is dynamic in nature and are the ones that benefit from the elastic nature of the public clouds. Examples like data warehousing systems, content management systems, massively parallel processing operations, consumer-facing web sites form part of this workload. This workload will receive the highest benefit for migrating into public clouds.

Consumable Workloads

With the great proliferation of SaaS (Software as a Service), enterprises have many avenues to consume certain types of workloads directly from a public cloud without even hosting them. Popular CRM software like Salesforce are good examples. There are so many other BpaaS players and situations that I have been covering separately in my ‘Industry SaaS Series' form part of this workload.

Cloud Integration

With the large enterprises running their business partly in on-premise private clouds and partly on public clouds, robust application integration options are required to ensure that the applications are in sync with each other and information generated out of the extended enterprise is consistent and preserves the integrity across transactions.

Hybrid Environment Management

With the increased workload management across the public clouds and the new ways of monitoring the virtualization techniques adopted by private clouds, enterprises needed to move away from the traditional ways of IT environment management and move towards a hybrid environment management.

Application Development Life Cycle for the Cloud Environment

No enterprise can afford to be static with respect to their business capability needs. This means the cloud-enabled IT has to rapidly expand to the new market needs. This is only possible if the application development platform is cloud-aware and can support both private cloud deployment and public cloud deployment. The platform should also free enterprises from future upgrades and maintenance activities so that enterprises can become truly agile. PaaS (Platform as a Service) is the best option for large enterprises in this regard.

Enterprise Innovation with Cloud

While the above mentioned components of the reference architecture are still part of the traditional enterprises even without cloud in a different form, however in today's competitive environment large enterprises needed some options which are truly innovative and disruptive in nature. Cloud value proposition like high performance computing (HPC) and some other research options form part of this.

IBM SmartCloud Product Mapping for the Blueprint

SmartCloud is the IBM vision for cloud computing, which accelerates business transformation with capabilities from IBM cloud offerings. The following product mapping will help to realize the blue print for cloud enablement for large enterprises with the respective SmartCloud offerings.

Mission-Critical Workloads

As explained large enterprises will choose private clouds for running their mission critical workloads. IBM SmartCloud has a multitude of private cloud infrastructure and associated software options.

Additionally there are IBM SmartCloud Foundation infrastructure offerings that  include servers, storage and virtualization components for building private and hybrid cloud computing environment.

Together the above options help an enterprise to run their mission critical, Mainframe, Big Endian Unix, Linux and Windows workloads on a private cloud.

Elastic Workloads

Public Cloud offerings form part of the management of these kinds of workloads. IBM SmartCloud Enterprise and Enterprise+ provide the enterprise class public cloud platforms, with the following major features.

Consumable Workloads

SaaS and BpaaS offerings form part of this workload, and IBM SmartCloud has a variety of SaaS offerings, and like any other community contributed application exchange this can grow further in the future. Current offerings are categorized into:

To facilitate a collaborative ecosystem for more SaaS/ BpaaS products ‘IBM Application Development Services For Cloud' help partners to develop new SaaS applications.

Cloud-Based Integration

Continuous functioning of large enterprises on hybrid environments (i.e., public, private clouds) is only possible if there are strong cloud integration platforms. WebSphere Cast Iron Cloud Integration is part of SmartCloud platform and enables cloud application to application integration.

Hybrid Environment Management

IBM SmartCloud Monitoring is a cloud monitoring tool for cloud infrastructure as well as the virtual servers running within it. SmartCloud Monitoring is designed to monitor very large environments. Coverage for KVM, VMware, Citrix XenServer, Citrix XenDesktop Citrix XenApp, Cisco UCS, NetApp.

With respect to Public Cloud, IBM SmartCloud Enterprise+ provides robust management options.

Application Development Life Cycle for Cloud Environments

IBM SmartCloud Application Services allow your organization to develop, deploy, manage and integrate applications in the cloud. Initially, IBM SmartCloud Application Services will provide initial support for Java, and expand to include PHP, Ruby, C, C++, .Net and others later. IBM SmartCloud Application Services portal, tooling will be provided to manage the deployment and management of applications. In addition, Rational products will be available for application lifecycle management. The service will use the IBM DB2 Enterprise Edition 9.7 database, which is Oracle-compatible. Data can be extracted from an Oracle database and moved into the DB2 database.

Enterprise Innovation with Cloud

The HPC cloud offerings from IBM provide the methods and means to manage HPC infrastructure using cloud computing technology. The HPC cloud offerings from IBM complement the IBM SmartCloud.

Summary

Lot of material is available on the IBM site about the detailed offerings as part of IBM SmartCloud. The aim of this article is to position how the large enterprises can adopt to this robust cloud offering and can take comfort of an end-to-end offering, which will ensure that they handle any fear or uncertainty or doubt among the stake holders.


NoOps Is As Legitimate As DevOps

By Krishnan Subramanian on March 14, 2012

Ever since Lucas Carlson, CEO of AppFog, brought the term “NoOps” into the focus of discussion, there is quite a bit of backlash against the term. The debate sometimes borders along insanity and I thought I will add my 2 cents to this cacophony. In fact, this backlash is nothing new. Whenever I make a statement about the role of ops fading away in a cloud based world, I get similar brickbats on Twitter and other online fora. Let me use this post to add clarity to the point I am advocating with respect to Ops. Before the Ops guys and gals pounce on me, I also want to highlight that I am not a developer and my background is on the ops side. Having made it clear, let me add my thoughts on why NoOps is a legitimate use of the term, much like DevOps.

It’s all fine, what is NoOps, BTW?

Regular readers of my blog know that I am bullish on PaaS being the future of cloud services. Right now, PaaS adoption is in the early adopter stage and in the next five years, it is expected to be mainstream in the enterprise. When that happens and enterprises adopt hosted PaaS from providers like Heroku, Engine Yard, CloudBees, AppFog, Azure, etc., there will be no need for enterprises to invest on operations as these PaaS offerings gives an interface to their developers which they can use to build and deploy their apps without worrying about the underlying infrastructure including security and scaling. This scenario is what Lucas calls as NoOps and I have also emphasized it on my posts with the slogan “Forget DevOps, embrace the damn PaaS”.

So? What is the big deal?

When such a transformation happens in the industry, the role of operations people is going to be diminished compared to what it is today. Many ops people and pundits (with their hearts on the operations side) take it personally and argue that NoOps is bordering on FUD and operations are not going away anytime. They push back against the term because it seems to suggest that operations are going to vanish in the coming years. Their argument is that operations are critical part of these technologies including PaaS and SaaS and any term that diminishes their value is just a marketing term with FUD value.

You are part of the marketing FUD, Huh?

Not really. Whether we (pundits and ops people) like it or not, even the public cloud services like AWS made ops people less visible. Gone or the days when a developer will put a help desk ticket and wait for IT to provision a server for his/her needs. Today, the self service part of the cloud offerings lets developers provision the instances needed for them with a few clicks or an API call. Since public clouds offers them a way to operate the infrastructure through code, the DevOps movement came into picture calling the need for developers and ops people to work together closely and cross pollinate. At the infrastructure services level itself, the role of ops got “reduced” a bit. To put it in another way, from ops being the face of IT and the go to folks for anything IT related, they were forced to take a reduced role in the DevOps culture. But, let us keep in mind that ops are critical to the very success of infrastructure cloud services. The only change from the traditional era is that they have given the limelight to service interfaces and do their magic (as usual) in the background helping the cloud service providers run their infrastructure smoothly. Not only they have faded into the background, the number of ops people needed to run the infrastructure got drastically reduced due to the automation at scale. Cloud services pushed Ops from being the face of IT to the invisible face of IT. PaaS takes this one step further by making even DevOps less relevant because the PaaS providers absorb almost all of the operations underneath and offer a simple interface for developers to deploy their apps. Hence, we are seeing the raise of the term NoOps.

Makes sense. Why are Ops people whining then?

Well, the reality is not so simple and there are many shades of grey. Yes, NoOps is a marketing term but it is a great term that clearly highlights what the service is offering. If terms like converged infrastructure, cloud computing, DevOps, etc. can be valid terms to describe the respective offerings, NoOps is a very legitimate term to define what hosted PaaS offers organizations. However, the ground reality is different from a simplistic evolution to hosted PaaS. In the next several years, we are going to see a complex evolution with most of the workloads moving to clouds while some of them staying inside the firewall. Also, we are going to see a more federated ecosystem of infrastructure players. We will be seeing adoption of both hosted PaaS as well as Private PaaS (yet another term used to describe the platform layer put on top of private cloud infrastructure). All these different choices are going to give us an environment where the relevance of Ops will be visible in some cases and invisible in others. In most cases, ops people will be in the background (on the service provider side) and doing their magic quietly and the service interface is going to be the future face of IT. DevOps will stay put as long as we have organizations wanting to have much deeper control over the infrastructure and even in the case of hosted PaaS, some developers may need to assume operational responsibilities (albeit, very rarely). Since the ground reality is a bit more complex and the NoOps term completely sweeps away the reality under the carpet, people are getting upset. But it is time for them to get used to the term and the decibel levels are going to rise as more and more organizations start embracing PaaS. If buzz words can be a competitive advantage in a free market, NoOps is as legitimate as other terms like DevOps or Cloud. #justsayin


IBM Research Shows How the Cloud is Driving Business Model Innovation        

CMS Wire

By Barb Mosher         (@barbmosher)           Mar 8, 2012                                                                                     

The decision to move to the cloud has traditionally been about operational efficiency, but according to IBM's research, we'll soon start to see organizations take advantage of the cloud for business initiatives and that kind of stuff is a whole lot more fun.

We had the opportunity to talk about the IBM study with one its authors, Saul Berman, Global Lead Partner for Strategy Consulting and Innovation and Growth for IBM Global Business Services. It's important to point out that this study was conducted from a business perspective and not a technology perspective, which is a refreshing approach to understanding how the cloud can work for your business.

Editor's Note: Read the full study: The power of cloud. Driving business model innovation (1.35 MB PDF)

The Power of the Cloud IBM Study

This study was conducted through the IBM Institute for Business Value, in conjunction with the Economist Intelligence Unit. It included 572 business and technology executives across the world, in organizations ranging from large (greater than US$ 20 billion) to small (less than US$ 1 billion). The results?

That, although many organizations focus cloud initiatives on operational efficiency, we'll see that slowly decrease over the next few years (from 55% to 31%) in favor of innovative business plans, like new lines of business/industries, new pricing models and better partner collaboration.

When surveyed, here's what items topped the cloud adoption list for most organizations:

Tapping Into That Power

One issue that has the ability to slow down the use of cloud models for innovation is that many organizations still see the cloud as an IT solution. But as its importance starts to reach further into the business, the opportunities available are being recognized.

IBM notes six "game-changing" business enablers that will transform how organizations leverage the cloud for business innovation, shown below:

 

Cloud Enablement Framework

It's not a cloud maturity model, you aren't going to move your organization through each phase:

IBM Cloud Enablement Framework

The framework looks at two things: the customer value proposition and the value chain. Along each of these dimensions there are different types of organization models. You need to look internally and decide where in this model your organization fits. Are you:

Berman says you can choose to evolve over time from one type to the next, but some organizations are going to be innovative or disruptive from day one. He points to the media/entertainment industry as an example of an industry where you might want to focus more on innovation and disruption than worry about an existing business model that may be under attack.


Cloud Computing Goes Far Beyond Virtualization

Virtualization vs. Private Cloud (Part 1)

Virtualization Journal

By Yung Chou

Virtualization vs. private cloud has confused many IT pros. Are they the same? Or different? In what way and how? We have already virtualized most of my computing resources, is a private cloud still relevant to us? These are questions I have been frequently asked. Before getting the answers, in the first article of this two-part series listed below let's first go through a few concepts.

Part 1: Cloud Computing Goes Far Beyond Virtualization (This article)

Part 2: A Private Cloud Delivers IT as a Service

Lately, many IT shops have introduced virtualization into existing computing environmentw. Consolidating servers, mimicking production environment, virtualizing test networks, securing resources with honey pots, adding disaster recovery options, etc. are just a few applications of employing virtualization. Some also run highly virtualized IT with automation provided by system management solutions. I imagine many IT pros recognize the benefits of virtualization including better utilization of servers, associated savings by reducing the physical footprint, etc. Now we are moving into a cloud era, the question then becomes "Is virtualization the same with a private cloud?" or "We are already running a highly virtualized computing today, do we still need a private cloud?"The answers to these questions should always start with "What business problems are you trying to address?" Then assess if a private cloud solution can fundamentally solve the problem, or perhaps virtualization is sufficient. This is of course assuming there is a clear understanding of what is virtualization and what is a private cloud. This point is that virtualization and cloud computing are not the same. They address IT challenges in different dimensions and operated in different scopes with different levels of impact on a business.

Virtualization

To make a long story short, virtualizationin the context of IT is to "isolate" computing resources such that an object (i.e. an application, a task, a component) in a layer above can be possibly operated without a concern of those changes made in the layers below. A lengthy discussion of virtualization is beyond the scope of this article. Nonetheless, let me point out that the terms, virtualization, and "isolation" are chosen for specific reasons since there are technical discrepancies between "virtualization" and "emulation", "isolation" and "redirection." Virtualization isolates computing resources, hence offers an opportunity to relocate and consolidate isolated resources for better utilization and higher efficiency.

Cloud Computing

Cloud computing on the other hand is an ability to make resources available on demand. There are statements made on what to expect in general from cloud computing. A definition of cloud computing published in NIST SP-800-145 outlines the essential characteristics, how to deliver, and what kind of deployment models to be cloud-qualified. Chou further simplifies it and offers a plain and simple way to describe cloud computing with the 5-3-2 Principle as illustrated below.

The essence of cloud computing is rooted at the appreciation of a "service." In the context of cloud computing, a service simply means the state of being available on demand.

So SaaS means software, i.e. an application, is available on demand and the focus is on functions available within and not beyond the application. PaaS provides a run-time environment on demand and the scope becomes what are the common set of capabilities available on demand for applications deployed to this run-time environment. Since the run-time environment is available on demand, an application deployed to the run-time environment then can be brought to a running state on demand. Namely those applications deployed to a PaaS environment are delivered, as a consequence, with SaaS. And IaaS denotes infrastructure available on demand, which means the ability to provision infrastructure on demand. For IT professionals, provisioning infrastructure at an operational level translates to deploying servers. And in the context of cloud computing, all servers are virtualized and deployed in the form of a virtual machines or VMs. So, IaaS ultimately is the ability to deploy VMs on demand.

"On-demand" is not to be casually used. This is a loaded term with a strong connotation of the five essential characteristics of cloud computing. On-demand means high accessibility and always-on readiness since it must be accessible and ready per SLA. In cloud, they are represented by self-service model and ubiquitous access. On-demand suggests there are likely standardization, automation, optimization, and orchestration in place, which are presented collectively as resource pooling and elasticity. On-demand implies the need for auditing and metering, i.e. analytics, so capacity can be planned accordingly. And that is why consumption-based charge-back or show-back model is included in the essential characteristics of cloud computing.

Unequivocally Different

With what has been described above, to realize the fundamental differences between virtualization and private cloud becomes rather straightforward. Noticeably, virtualization is not based on the 5-3-2 principle as opposed to cloud computing is. For instance, a self-serving model is not an essential component in virtualization, while it is essential in cloud computing. One can certainly argue some virtualization solution may include a self-serving component. The point is that self-service is not a necessary , nor sufficient condition for virtualization. While in cloud computing, self-service is a crucial concept to deliver anytime availability to user, which is what a service is all about. Furthermore, self-service is an effective mechanism to in the long run reduce training and support at all levels. It is a crucial vehicle to accelerate the ROI of a cloud computing solution and make it sustainable in the long run.

Virtualization is centered on virtual machines and rooted in infrastructure management, operations, and deployment flexibility. Virtualizationis about the abilities to consolidating servers, managing VMs, streaming desktops, and so on. How to productively configure, deploy, and manage a workload in a deployed VM and

At the same time, cloud is about "service"and "service" is about the readiness and responsiveness relevant to market opportunities. Cloud is about go-to-market. Cloud focuses on making a requested LOB application available on demand and not just on just how to deploy a VM. Cloud is interested in not only operating VMs, but providing insights of a target application running in those VMs.

No, virtualization is not cloud computing. And cloud goes far beyond virtualization. So what are the specifics about virtualization vs. a private cloud? [To be continued in part 2]

Yung Chou is currently a Sr. IT Pro Evangelist in Microsoft. Within the company, he has had opportunities serving customers in the areas of support account management, technical support, technical sales, and evangelism. Prior to Microsoft, he had established capacities in system programming, application development, consulting services, and IT management. His recent technical focuses have been in virtualization and cloud computing with strong interests in private cloud with service-based deployment and emerging enterprise computing architecture. He is a frequent speaker in Microsoft conferences, roadshow, and TechNet events.


Top 5 Things The Cloud Is Not

Peder Ulander

posted in Blog, Featured ⋅ June 22, 2012 1:57 pm

The cloud looks set to be the next king, but there are five things the cloud is not. Can you think of others? Image: akakumo/Flickr

It’s clear that the technology industry is moving from the PC era to the cloud era in several significant ways.  While cloud represents a new way for IT to deliver — and end users to consume — IT applications and services, this transition also represents a significant change in how applications, services and systems are defined.  The move to cloud computing is the most important technology disruption since the transition from mainframe to client-server, or even since Al Gore invented the internet. While industry veterans like Oracle’s commander in chief declared it a fad, this is a decade-long trend that is here to stay, and one that will define the next generation of IT.

The movement itself has been in play for the last decade, however there continues to be a lot of (mis)information in the marketplace about the cloud. So much so that it is difficult for organizations to figure out what is real and what is not to help them develop a successful cloud strategy, or simply learn about technologies  that have been specifically designed and purpose-built to meet  this dramatic shift in technology. While it’s important to know what the cloud is, it’s just as important to separate the wheat from the chaff, and for IT to understand what cloud is not.

To this end, I encourage you not to add yet another definition of the cloud to your glossary, but to truly understand the top 5 things the cloud is not.

1. Cloud is not a place. 

People often talk about moving to the cloud as if they were moving to another city. But the cloud is not a place. In fact, the cloud can be anywhere, in your data center or someone else’s. Organizations that believe they are moving to a strategy that leaves legacy apps and systems behind are in for a rude awakening. The single most important way for enterprise organizations to prepare themselves for the cloud is to understand that the cloud is a radically new way of delivering, consuming and adopting IT services in a far more agile, efficient, and cost-effective manner, which will spread throughout the ether and be a mix of public, private, managed or hybrid clouds. By looking holistically at the cloud, organizations can optimize its benefits for their budgets, privacy needs, geographies and overall business needs.

2. Cloud is not server virtualization. 

Despite what many believe, and what many will tell you, the cloud is not the same as next-gen server virtualization. It doesn’t surprise me that many believe that by virtualizing their data center they will create a private cloud. Some vendors are intentionally trying to blur that line, aiming to convince customers that their vCenter clusters somehow deliver a private cloud. On the contrary, that is a gross exaggeration of the term cloud.

If you take a look at the way Amazon has built its cloud architecture, it becomes very clear that there are some fairly stark differences between a server virtualization environment and a true cloud architecture.  While Amazon starts with Xen virtualization technology, the brains of its architecture comes with a new layer of software that Amazon built in an effort to create a new control plane, a new cloud orchestration layer that can manage all the infrastructure resources (compute, storage, networking) across all of their data centers. This is at the heart of the cloud’s technology disruption.  Some analysts refer to this as the “hypervisor of hypervisors,” or a “new software category of cloud system software.”

The fact of the matter is that some of the major players are doing cloud without server virtualization. Take Google for example. They have deployed a cloud architecture that is not using server virtualization, but rather a bare metal infrastructure. So while virtualization can be an important ingredient of cloud, it is not always a requirement.

3. Cloud is not an island. 

Depending on what you’re reading, you’ll hear a lot about public clouds versus private clouds, and it may feel as if enterprises must make a wholesale decision on which way to go. But the cloud is not an island, it is not a place where you put all of your IT services, and then lose all interconnectivity and access. The recent Amazon outages have proven this to be an important point for any organization leveraging the cloud. The right cloud strategy will be one that enables you to have a hybrid approach with the ability to easily connect private and public clouds. Even the recent move by NASA to include Amazon Web Services as part of its cloud rollout after a significant investment in the build-out of its own technology proves that the market is moving to open, interoperable multi-cloud environments.

4.  Cloud is not top-down. 

The cloud has up-ended the traditional IT approach to delivering services. The lines of business have been leading the charge in making the decision to move to cloud computing. With specific needs to get to market quickly, functional business leaders are consuming cloud services to avoid traditional IT processes. But we don’t need surveys to clarify this movement.  The reality is that with the simple swipe of a credit card and the creation of an account, end users can gain instant access to infinite pools of IT resource to help test out a new idea, get their job done or even become more agile in their daily work.  This is part of why this revolution is so powerful.  The Consumerization of IT is driving this new movement. Users are already there and the C-level offices are just now trying to catch up with them.  Those that embrace this move sooner rather than later will learn how to use the cloud as a strategic weapon before their competitors do.  So the cloud is not top down, but rather a bottoms-up phenomenon.

5.  Cloud is not hype. 

As I started this piece, I wrote about the (mis)information that has flooded the market and slowed progression and adoption of the cloud for some organizations. I’ve spoken with people in many organizations who are still skeptical of the cloud and believe that it is something that is very far off into the future. No doubt there is a lot of noise in the market with many claiming early victory in the hearts and minds of developers, with open source momentum, or beta products. The reality is that the cloud is ready now, and Citrix has more than 100 organizations that are running clouds in production today. Companies like AutoDesk, Edmunds.com, Nokia, Chatham Financial and others, already reaping the benefits.

My words of advice to companies considering a move to the cloud – learn from others who have already built highly scalable, successful clouds that have helped them transform the way they deliver and consume IT resources.

This is just the beginning of the discussion. There are many more topics that we will continue to talk about in the coming weeks, months, years (such as, cloud is not only an infrastructure and cloud is not just for service providers). All with the goal of helping organizations and the market understand what the cloud is and what it is not.

Peder Ulander is vice president of product marketing for the Cloud Platforms Group at Citrix, overseeing the company’s marketing strategy for its cloud infrastructure and server virtualization products.


CIOs Don't Need to Be Business Leaders                

Given the complexity of today's applications, it's folly to suggest that the future role of the CIO is less technical and more businesslike, columnist Bernard Golden writes. If anything, it's the opposite -- the business side of the enterprise should embrace technology.                

By Bernard Golden                                                                                  

Fri, May 18, 2012                                          

It seems like every week I come across an article stating that being a CIO means thinking more like a business person and less like an engineer. Often I see articles that say that CIOs need to talk the language of business, not technology. Occasionally I'll see one that says that CIOs need to be business leaders and stop focusing on technology.

I have seen pieces asserting that future heads of IT will be from disciplines such as marketing or finance, since technology really isn't that important anymore. I've even seen analyses that say that CIOs no longer need to manage technically capable organizations because infrastructure is being offloaded to outsourcers and on-premise applications are being displaced by SaaS applications.

The implication of all these viewpoints is that technology qua technology is no longer significant and that, overall, it's so standardized and commoditized that it can be treated like any other area of the business. In fact, it can be managed by someone with no technical background at all.

                

The general rap against technical IT executives is that they talk about technology too much and fail to communicate with CEOs in so-called "business terms." The thinking is that CIOs fail to use the language of business and thereby bore—or, worse, alienate—CEOs, with the result that CIOs are dismissed from the inner ranks of corporations.

If only CIOs could learn to communicate in business terms, the argument goes, then they would be accepted into the inner circle, embraced by CEOs no longer discomfited by technical jargon.

Notion of CIO as Business Leader Just Plain Wrong

The shorthand version of this argument is the CIO needs to be a business leader, not a technologist. The implication is clear: The CIO leaves the technical details to others and focuses on the big picture.

There's only one thing wrong with this perspective. It's wrong. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

Technical skills in IT management are important today like never before—and that fact is becoming increasingly evident. In the future, CIOs will need deep technical skills. A CIO with even average technical skills will be not only inadequate for his or her job, he or she will represent a danger to the overall health of the company.

Frankly, even on its surface, this argument of "CIO as business leader" doesn't make sense. Marketing, for example, is undergoing radical transformation as it shifts to online and digital. Today sophisticated analysis of click patterns, A/B testing, big data analytics and so on are a core marketing competence. Do you think that CEOs want a head of marketing who doesn't know the details of how these kind of marketing tools operate? That marketing is run by someone who can use the language of business, even though he or she doesn't really understand the details of what is done in the marketing programs? Of course not.

IT, too, is becoming increasingly complex. Ten years ago, a company's website was primarily a display application designed to deliver static content. Today, a website is a transaction and collaboration application that supports far higher workloads. Websites commonly integrate external services that deliver content or data that is mixed with a company's own data to present a customized view to individual users. The application may expose APIs to allow other organizations to integrate it with their applications, and those same APIs may be used to support a mobile website. Finally, the site probably experiences high variability of load throughout the year as seasonal events or specific business initiatives drive large volumes of traffic.

Application performance management depends on an exquisite tuning of a multitude of elements, any of which can affect response time and each of which must be monitored to assess an app's ongoing health. To be sure, one can expect the application to constantly change as new business arrangements, partnerships, or corporate events such as mergers or acquisitions require functionality changes.

The complexities of these applications is of an order of magnitude higher than those of a decade ago. For a discussion of what these applications look like from an enterprise architecture perspective, read this post by friend and colleague James Urquhart and just try to come away thinking that this highly complex, dynamic, constantly evolving environment can be managed by someone without technology chops.

You Can't Discuss Tech Without Knowing Tech

Here's the thing: Complex as they are, these new applications are critical to the success of the overall business. The website of 2000 was important, but if it wasn't operating properly, the company could still function. If today's Web-enabled application isn't available, business grinds to a halt. This reflects how, over time, these applications have insinuated themselves into the core functionality of the company—and made their successful operation critical to the operation of the business.

Now, do you think a CIO can get by without understanding the key elements of these type of applications? Without recognizing the weak aspects of the application where failure or performance bottlenecks can ruin successful user engagement with the application?

The counter argument to this perspective is that the technology is too complex andBelieve me, there is a world of difference between someone who understands technology—and as a result has to weigh alternatives and disputes among different groups involved in a technology discussion—and someone who doesn't really have any technology background and arbitrates by non-technical criteria. The difference between them is the difference between an organization that gets things right on technology—or, when it gets things wrong, can recognize the issue and quickly correct it—and one that makes poor decisions that result in fragile, constrained applications.

In Today's Economy, CEOs Obligated to Know Tech

Frankly, that issue of talking to the CEO in business language with which he or she is comfortable is a red herring. The fact is, businesses today are technology businesses. Information technology is core to what they do. Something so critical to a company's success imposes an obligation on a CEO to comprehend it. After all, do you think the CEO of GM refuses to engage with the head of manufacturing on supply chain issues even though it's a highly technical subject? Why, then, is it OK for a CEO to deflect an IT discussion because it's highly technical?

Now that I think about it, it might be time to turn the whole argument on its head. The statement shouldn't be that CIOs aren't businesslike enough. It's that too many of today's CEOs are insufficiently technical.

Bernard Golden is CEO of consulting firm HyperStratus, which specializes in virtualization, cloud computing and related issues. He is also the author of "Virtualization for Dummies," the best-selling book on virtualization to date. Most recently Wired.com namd him one of the Top 10 Cloud Influencers and Thought Leaders. Follow Bernard Golden on Twitter @bernardgolden.

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