The Virtualization Practice

Cloud Computing

Cloud Computing focuses upon how to construct, secure, manage, monitor and use public IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS clouds. Major areas of focus include barriers to cloud adoption, progress on the part of cloud vendors in removing those barriers, where the line of responsibility is drawn between the cloud vendor and the customer for each of IaaS, PaaS and SaaS clouds, ...
as well as the management tools that are essential to deploy in the cloud, ensure security in the cloud and ensure the performance of applications running in the cloud. Covered vendors include Amazon, VMware, AFORE, CloudSidekick, CloudPhysics, ElasticBox, Hotlink, New Relic, Prelert, Puppet Labs and Virtustream.

Development tools like Eclipse and Visual Stuio are being built to ensur applications can be deployed in to the cloud on application servers. Key challenges include the manageability and scalability of application servers. Innovations include the use of non-java languages like Groovy and Jython and even PHP and Javascript on JVMs, and the final demise of SQL as object caches offer more natural scalability.

VMware + Ionix Assets – Impact Upon the Virtualization Performance Market

Existing VMware offerings competed in the Resource and Availability Management space prior to the acquisition of the Ionix assets, and the acquisition has done nothing to change the fact that vendors in this space face strong competition from VMware (or certainly will do so once Hyperic is integrated and ships as a VMware product). Infrastructure Performance Management is the key category that IT Operations needs to focus upon to understand the performance of their virtual environment, and the acquisitions do not change the positions of Akorri, CA/NetQos, Virtual Instruments and Xangati in this space. Adding ADM to VMware’s assets in the APM space adds a significant capability, but at the end of the day does not yet put VMware in the position to be able to provide an APM solution across physical and potentially multiple virtual environments as can AppDynamics, BlueStripe, Coradiant, New Relic and OPNET.

We recently received a presentation on a combined solution from Eucalyptus and Terracotta. Initially we were suspicious because they clearly share an investor – Benchmark Capital. Was this a PowerPoint integration dreamt up by two Venture Capitalists over a power breakfast? However, the combined solution was presented by some very plausible techies with a real-live demo and does look as though it starts to provide a generally-useful abstraction over which to deploy scalable applications (specifically Java stacks), and it too works with commodity hardware. It’s not as slick as the 3Tera solution, more of a command-line approach, but it potentially has the edge in scalability.

Cloud Applications Performance Management gets Serious

I had the opportunity to present on Applications Performance Management for Cloud Hosted Applications at the Cloud Connect Conference in Santa Clara CA on March 15, 2010. It was an eventful presentation as I was part of panel assembled by Hon Won (former founder of NetIQ and now EVP of Business Development at Coradiant). The panels included users of business critical applications in the cloud, cloud vendors, and vendors of performance management applications for cloud hosted applications.

The Cisco-VMware-NetApp (CVN) was discussed on the Virtualization Security Podcast as it pertains to Secure Multi-Tenancy (SMT). This is a major concern that was also discussed at RSA Conference 2010 within the Cloud Security Alliance Summit. The question still remains how to achieve this goal however. CVN is a very good start, but as we discussed on the podcast is missing some key elements.

The acquisition of 3Tera by Computer Associates signals an intent to move beyond traditional Systems Management, into something that may almost be viewed as Operating System: a layer of software called AppLogic that sits above the virtualization stack, and provides a consolidated abstraction against which composite applications may be built within the Cloud. Essentially the AppLogic layer deals with the nuts and bolts of configuring and connecting virtual machines, all you do is choose from a menu of virtual appliances you want, and use a visual interface to show how the appliances interconnect at a software level.