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Clouds Cutting Edge

April 22, 2010

CloudExpo

After attending what was likely the largest cloud conference to date, Cloud Computing Expo 2010 in New York City, I want to solidify what I have learned, introduce some take-aways, and provide the most cutting-edge cloud concept that I saw. I attended the conference as a cloud enthusiast and technologist, attending many of the presentation sessions. I also attended as a vendor / boothbabe for my company, Zenoss. Zenoss was there because we monitor and manage physical, virtual, and cloud IT resources.

OK… Impress me please

Really, a lot of content at the expo were rehashes of ideas that have already been done. There were great products, great implementations, and great business, but not a lot of innovation. I want to introduce one idea / paradigm that really impressed me. It has actually been around for a few years, but it is the first time I have heard of it.

Encapsulation and Abstraction

This creates what some vendors are calling “Application / Assembly as a Service” or AaaS. This allows the next level of IT application conglomeration and automation to occur with ease. With these concepts, you can instantly deploy and implement a complex 15-server, 40-dependancy application in minutes, on a cloud infrastructure.

Despite the numerous jokes that you can make about the acronyms pronunciation (AaaS), this is seriously a powerful set of ideas that will drive the next level of cloud adoption.

Encapsulation

Example: Enterprise Resource Planning

Say that your organization wants to trial at least 3 Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems in a real environment and with real load. Very expensive in the past… you might have had to rely on demos and not actually seeing a live instance of each application in your environment. With AaaS, you can set these up in the cloud, trial them, and add load at the flick of a switch and at pay-for-usage prices. An example like this might involve:

  • a mirrored set of NAS storage devices,
  • a database server that utilizes that NAS,
  • a set of 3 clustered application servers for high availability to serve out the web interface,
  • a handful of data collection servers for various departments to feed their information into,
  • and dozens of ports and settings for each of the servers to talk to each other.

With encapsulation methodologies (AaaS), all of these servers can be encapsulated and stored into a single image, to be instantly recalled and played onto a cloud environment! Better yet, the community and vendors will provide pre-packaged, complex applications for free and pay. Below is a diagram I have created a while back, for one of the complex architectures that http://www.zenoss.com can utilize for high performance monitoring. It provides an example for what might one day be very easily architected in the cloud.
Zenoss Port Map - Dist Hub Dist Coll

Still don’t understand?

As is common now in IaaS solutions, one server image is often brought up at a time (think Amazons AMIs). An example is that Amazon has a single CentOS AMI that I can load onto 1 or more instances. This image is one server instance, with everything self contained inside that single instance. With encapsulation methodologies, you will bring up entire complex application chains in minutes. You will load 10 interelated server instances and components to create one larger whole. This might build a complex service or application, like an ERP system, or a high-performance monitoring system.

Cloud is like Client-Server all over again

I came across the encapsulation notion while attending a presentation by 3Tera founder, Barry X Lynn, who has since been bought out by CA for mega $$. Barry’s presentation postulates that Cloud Computing has the same concerns and questions, that client-server computing did in its infancy, and also that the Internet e-commerce paradigm had in the early 1990s. Client-server and the Internet became stable and acceptable, only once management infrastructures were present. He predicts that cloud computing needs the same thing to overcome its downsides – management infrastructure. Over the next years, we will see management tools, protocols, and standards establish, and usher in the new paradigm of cloud computing – on demand computing.

applogic

By the way… 3Tera’s product, AppLogic, looks compelling, purporting to do encapsulation and abstraction of cloud resources. In their purchase, I think CA saw the same potential that I am seeing. 3Tera has a good screencast demo of the actual interface: http://www.3tera.com/AppLogic_demo.php . Whether AppLogic is the solution to the clouds encapsulation needs or not, Barry’s words are a worthy read: http://blog.3tera.com/computing/mainstream-it-buys-into-cloud-computing-ca-to-acquire-3tera-a-message-from-barry-x-lynn-ceo-3tera/

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. May 3, 2010 8:47 am

    Haha, Nick as a boothbabe 😀

    Yeh, still don’t understand the nitty griddy parts of the cloud but interesting nonetheless. You ought to check out this tech podcast http://twit.tv/twig which is where most of what I understand so far comes from. A lot less technical but still useful in understanding cloud computing.

  2. May 10, 2010 10:07 pm

    twit.tv was like howard stern meet super geeks!

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