Posts Tagged public cloud

The Data Center’s Hybrid Cloud Future

Nearly half of large enterprises will have hybrid cloud deployments by the end of 2017. Hybrid cloud computing is at the same place today that private cloud was three years ago; actual deployments are low, but aspirations are high, says Gartner in a published news note from Oct. 2013.

Almost every organization today utilizes some form of cloud computing, usually public clouds.  In its State of the Cloud survey RightScale found 94% of organizations are running applications or experimenting with infrastructure-as-a-service, 87% of organizations are using public cloud, and 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud strategy and more than half of those are already using both public and private cloud. RightScale estimates may be a bit more generous than Gartner but both come to the same conclusion in the end: Hybrid cloud is the approach of choice.

Executive management, however, prefers private clouds for the control and security they promise. That the actual control and security may not be much better than what the organization could achieve in the public cloud if it were rolled out properly, but executives don’t understand that. So private clouds are management’s darling for now.

Private clouds, however, fail to deliver the key benefits of cloud computing—cost efficiency and business agility. The organization still has to invest in all the IT resources, capacity, and capabilities of the private cloud. Unlike the public cloud, these are not shared resources. They may repurpose some of their existing IT investment for the private cloud but they invariably will again have to acquire additional IT resources and capacity as before. And, the demand for resources may increase as business units come to like IT-as-a-Service (ITaaS), the rationale for private clouds in the first place.

As for business agility with private clouds—forget it. If new capabilities are required to meet some new business requirement, the organization will have to build or acquire that capability as it did before. The backlogs for developing new capabilities do not magically go away with ITaaS and private clouds. If business agility requires the business to pivot on a moment’s notice to meet new challenges and opportunities there is only one way the private cloud can do it–develop it in-house, the old fashioned way.

Hybrid clouds provide the answer. Gartner, Inc. defines a hybrid cloud as a cloud computing service that is composed of some combination of private, public and community cloud services from different service providers. In the hybrid cloud scenario, the company can rely on its private cloud and happily cruise along until it needs a capability or resource it can’t deliver. Then the company reaches out through the hybrid cloud to the public cloud for the required capability. Rather than build it, the organization basically rents the capability, paying only for what it uses when it uses it. This is ideal when the organization needs to temporarily augment resources, capacity, or capabilities to meet an unanticipated need.

Hybrid clouds, unfortunately, don’t just pop up overnight. First you need to lay the groundwork for your hybrid cloud. That entails identifying the specific cloud resources and services in advance, making the necessary financial arrangements with appropriate public cloud vendors, and establishing and testing the connections. Also, check with your auditors who will want to be assured about security and governance and similar details.

While you are at it, make sure your networking and security teams are on board. Ports will need to be opened; the firewall gods will need to be appeased. You also will need to think about how these new capabilities and services will integrate with the capabilities and services you already have. This isn’t necessarily a major undertaking as IT projects go but will take some time—days or, more likely, a few weeks—to get the approvals, assemble all the pieces, and get them configured and tested and ready to deploy.

As RightScale notes: although the use of cloud is a given, enterprises often have different strategies that involve varying combinations of public, private, and hybrid cloud infrastructure. For most, however, the hybrid cloud provides the best of all cloud worlds, especially in terms of cost and agility. You can run ITaaS from your private cloud and pass through your hybrid cloud whenever you need public cloud resources you don’t have in house.  Just make sure you set it up in advance so it is ready to go whenyou need it.

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Best TCO—System z vs. x86 vs. Public Cloud

IBM recently analyzed various likely customer workload scenarios and found that the System z as an enterprise Linux server could consistently beat x86 machines and even public cloud providers like AWS in terms of TCO.  The analysis was reasonably evenhanded although, like automobile mileage ratings, your actual results may vary.

This blogger has long contended that the z Enterprise Linux Server acquired under the deeply discounted IBM System z Solution Edition program could beat comparable x86 systems not only in terms of TCO but even TCA. Algar, a Brazilian telecom, acquired its initial zEnterprise Linux server to consolidate a slew of x86 systems and lay a foundation for scalable growth. It reports cutting data center costs by 70%. Nationwide Insurance, no newcomer to mainframe computing, used the zEnterprise to consolidate Linux servers, achieving $46 million in savings.

The point: the latest IBM TCO analyses confirm what IBM has been saying. TCO advantage, IBM found, switches to the z Enterprise Linux Server at around 200 virtual servers compared to the public cloud and a bit more VMs compared to x86 machines. View the IBM z TCO presentation here.

IBM further advanced its cause in the TCO/TCA battle with the recent introduction of the IBM Enterprise Cloud System. This is a factory-built and integrated system—processor, memory, network, IFLs, virtualization management, cloud management, hypervisor, disk orchestration, Linux OS—priced (discounted) as a single solution. IBM promises to deliver it in 45 days and have it production ready within hours of hitting the organization’s loading dock. Of course, it comes with the scalability, availability, security, manageability, etc. long associated with the z, and IBM reports it can scale to 6000 VMs. Not sure how this compares in price to a Solution Edition Enterprise Linux Server.

The IBM TCO analysis compared the public cloud, x86 cloud, and the Enterprise Cloud System in terms power and space, labor, software/middleware, and hardware costs when running 48 diverse (a range of low, medium, and high I/O) workloads. In general it found an advantage for the z Enterprise Cloud System of 34-73%.  The z cost considerably more in terms of hardware but it more than made up for it in terms of software, labor, and power. Overall, the TCO examined more than 30 cost variables, ranging from blade/IFL/memory/storage amounts to hypervisor/cloud management/middleware maintenance.

In terms of hardware, the z included the Enterprise Linux Server, storage, z/VM, and IBM Wave for z/VM. Software included WebSphere Application Server middleware, Cloud Management Suite for z, and Tivoli for z/VM. The x86 cloud included HP hardware with a hypervisor, WebSphere Application Server, SmartCloud Orchestrator, SmartCloud Monitoring, and Tivoli Storage Manager EE. Both analyses included labor to manage both hardware and VMs, power and space costs, and SUSE Linux.

The public cloud assumptions were a little different. Each workload was deployed as a separate instance. The pricing model was for reserved instances. Hardware costs were based on instances in east US region with SUSE, EBS volume, data in/out, support (enterprise), free and reserved tier discounts applied. Software costs included WebSphere Application Server ND (middleware) costs for instances. A labor cost was included for managing instance.

When IBM applied its analysis to 398 I/O-diverse workloads the results were similar, 49-75% lower cost with the Cloud System on z. Again, z hardware was considerably more costly than either x86 or the public cloud. But z software and labor was far less than the others. In terms of 3-year TCO, the cloud was the highest at $37 M, x86 came in at $18.3 M, and the Cloud on z cost $9.4 M. With 48 workloads, the z again came in with lowest TCO at $1 M compared to $1.6 M for x86 systems, and $3.9 M for the public cloud.

IBM tried to keep the assumptions equivalent across the platforms. If you make different software or middleware choices or a different mix of high-mid-low I/O workloads your results will be different but the rankings probably won’t change all that much.

Also, there still is time to register for IBM Edge2014 in Las Vegas. This blogger will be there hanging around the bloggers lounge when not attending sessions. Please join me there.

Follow Alan Radding/BottomlineIT on Twitter: @mainframeblog

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The ROI from Private Cloud Computing

In surveys executives repeatedly express their preference for private clouds due to the perceived greater control and better security. Still, a private cloud needs to generate a ROI justify the investment. Private clouds don’t come free.

Assessing the ROI of private cloud is possible but not straightforward. Additionally the recent economic recession has pressured corporate profits, leading organizations to cut technology spending and limit further investment in cloud, which makes an ROI analysis even more important, according to Cloudtweaks.

Leading researcher IDC notes that many of today’s private cloud business cases are being anchored by savings from application rationalization and IT staff productivity improvements in addition to expected optimization of hardware assets. And unlike the public cloud, which promises to shift IT spending from CAPEX to OPEX, private clouds can actually drive increases in CAPEX since sooner or later the organization is likely to invest in new servers and storage optimized for virtualized cloud service delivery and in management automation.

A private cloud is a virtualized pool of IT resources sitting behind the corporate firewall. Since these are your resources and reside within your security umbrella they offer the promise of greater control and security. The security and control, of course, is only as good as your IT security and control has been all along. Actually, it could get worse since the private cloud typically delivers IT capabilities as services to more of your workers who may use them more widely and more frequently and in new and different ways due to increased accessibility.

The private cloud changes the IT delivery model. IT truly becomes a services delivery operation deploying and delivering IT capabilities as services through the private cloud. Users will access these capabilities on demand as services, often through a browser or even a virtualized desktop.

The great value of the private cloud comes from the business agility it enables. The virtualized pool of IT resources that makes up the private cloud can be allocated and reallocated quickly and easily to meet changing business needs. Instead of requiring weeks if not months to develop and assemble the IT hardware and software resources necessary to support a new business initiative, those resources can be allocated from the pooled virtual resources, possibly with some configuration changes, in minutes or hours (provided, of course, sufficient resources are available). With a private cloud, in effect, you can change the business almost on-the-fly and with no additional investment other than a few clicks of the mouse.

As CIO, how are you going to put a value on this sudden agility? If it lets the organization effectively counter competitive challenges, seize new business opportunities, or satisfy new customer demands fast and easily it could deliver astounding value. It all depends on the business leadership. If top managers aren’t terribly agile thinkers, however, the value might be minimal.

Other benefits from a private cloud include increased IT productivity and efficiency, the ability of business users to self-provision the desired IT resources (with appropriate policy-based automation controlling the provisioning behind the scenes), and an increased ability to monitor and measure IT consumption for purposes of chargeback or, as is more likely, show back. For top management, show back may have big appeal, notes Jason Cowie, vice president, Embotics, a private cloud management software provider.

The private cloud, however, will likely entail additional investments. Although you can repurpose existing IT resources, soon you will want to invest in new resources with more capacity that has been optimized for the demands of what amounts to a new kind of delivery of IT capabilities. You also will want to invest in management automation to ensure efficient service delivery, monitoring, measurement, chargeback, and self-provisioning.

In the end, the value of private cloud agility when matched with agile thinking business leadership should more than offset the additional investments required.

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Mitigate Cloud Risk Through Open Source

The drumbeat of cloud computing has become so loud that no business manager can avoid its siren song of lower cost, greater business agility, and the perfect alignment of business and IT. Although much of cloud computing is based on open source technologies, namely Linux, it hasn’t been viewed as an open source phenomenon.

Cloud computing has proven easier said than done. Even before the recent Amazon cloud disaster when hundreds of Amazon Elastic Cloud Computing (EC2) customers lost access to their applications and data for most of a day or longer, technology vendors had been scrambling to make cloud computing easier to deploy and use.

Red Hat, the large open source Linux provider, is the latest to launch a series of cloud technologies that promise to mitigate the risk of deploying applications to the cloud.   IBM, HP, Microsoft, EMC, Dell and others have their own initiatives aimed at doing the same thing. The Red Hat initiatives, as you’d expect, make extensive use of open source tools and frameworks to simplify the development and deployment of cloud systems and reduce the risk involved.

In some ways cloud computing appears remarkably simple. Just take a SaaS application like Salesforce.com, which is delivered via the cloud. All you need is a browser, deployment can be fast and easy, and the costs are reasonable and predictable.

Things get more complicated, however, when you want to start mixing and matching various cloud services and SaaS applications. Or you want to combine private and public cloud capabilities in a private cloud, creating what amounts to a hybrid cloud, and then build and deploy some of your own applications along with the cloud components. Of course, you’ll want to integrate and manage it all as a single system for efficiency.

Well, that’s not so easy. It can be done but you have to overcome the understandable tendency of vendors to lock you into their particular way of doing things. You end up with a lot of piece parts that don’t necessarily work together, at least not without a lot of cobbling on your part. This is where open source can help.

Earlier this week, Red Hat took a major step in enabling organizations to simplify cloud development and deployment and reduce risk. It introduced a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offering called OpenShift. It is aimed at open source developers and provides them with a flexible platform for developing cloud applications using a choice of development frameworks for Java, Python, PHP and Ruby, including Spring, Seam, Weld, CDI, Rails, Rack, Symfony, Zend Framework, Twisted, Django and Java EE. It is based on a cloud interoperability standard, Deltacloud, and it promises to end PaaS lock-in, allowing developers to choose not only the languages and frameworks they use but the cloud provider upon which their application will run.

By building on the Deltacloud cloud interoperability standard, OpenShift allows developers to run their applications on any supported Red Hat Certified Public Cloud Provider, eliminating the lock-in associated with first-generation PaaS vendors. In addition it brings the JBoss middleware services to the PaaS experience, such as the MongoDB services and other RHEL services.

At the same conference, Red Hat introduced CloudForms, a product for creating and managing IaaS for private and hybrid clouds. It allows users to create integrated clouds consisting of a variety of computing resources and still be portable across physical, virtual and cloud computing resources.  CloudForms addresses key problems encountered in first-generation cloud products: the cost and complexity of virtual server sprawl, compliance nightmares and security concerns.

One key benefit of CloudForms is the ability to create hybrid clouds using existing computing resources: virtual servers from different vendors, such as Red Hat and VMware; different cloud vendors, such as IBM and Amazon; and conventional in-house or hosted physical server, both racks and blades. This level of choice helps to eliminate lock-in and the need to undergo migration from physical to virtual servers in order to obtain the benefits of cloud.

Other vendors also have introduced new cloud initiatives recently. IBM, for example, demonstrated an enterprise cloud service delivery platform that it is piloting with key clients.  It promises to allow enterprise clients to select key characteristics of a public, private, and hybrid cloud to match to their workload requirements from simple Web infrastructure to complex business processes. These characteristics fall along five risk dimensions: security, performance/availability, technology platform, management/deployment, and payment/billing.

HP has joined with Red Hat in what is being called the Red Hat Cloud-HP Edition.  This is a private cloud design and reference architecture for IAAS and combines Red Hat Cloud solutions with HP’s CloudSystem, Cloud Maps and associated services.

Add to the above what Dell, Microsoft, EMC, and others are doing with initiatives to simplify and streamline business use of the cloud and it becomes clear that the vendors have gotten the message: Businesses want cloud computing that delivers what it promised—open, flexible, reliable, and efficient computing. It will take a few years to build it out, but it just got a big boost.

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