“Cloud” has become a FUD word 7 Sep 2011Posted by Tony Law in Cloud, IT is business, ITasITis, Tech Watch, Technorati.
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A LinkedIn post flagged me to a Forbes report about a spat between Mark Benioff (that’s salesforce.com to you and me) and Larry Ellison (Oracle). About the definition, or the understanding, of Cloud.
Well, the first interesting thing about the report is that it’s not in some tech geek publication. It’s in Forbes, which rich people read. If ever there was a candidate for airline management’s key publication, it could be this one. It does rather confirm, doesn’t it, that Cloud (we used to say Cloud Computing) is mainstream business news.
And the second thing is that it confirms, as we already knew, that Cloud has become one of those Humpty Dumpty words. You know: When I use a word (said Humpty Dumpty to Lewis Carroll’s Alice) it means exactly what I tell it to mean, neither more nor less. It’s happened in every IT generation. Working backwards, we certainly include Grid, we include “e” (as a prefix, such as “eServerFarms”), and we probably include client-server. And more, I’m sure.
As an adviser, facilitator and consultant I need to understand what people are thinking when they say “Cloud”, and it can be a lot of things these days. It’s my perception (and I’m by no means alone) that a lot of what’s marketed as Cloud today is one of:
• old-fashioned hardware-based outsourcing to a remote data centre
• web services
• some newer form of outsourcing
always with long term contracts, fixed prices, security, and and and …
We can do better. But first, there are a couple of things Cloud doesn’t need to be.
It doesn’t have to be “cheap”. This is a benefit in many cases, but not a fundamental. And in any case it’s relative: a service used for a short period may be expensive per unit, but still cheaper overall than provisioning your own “stuff” which you have to lay in for the long term. A comparison: taxi fares aren’t “cheap”, but if you don’t need permanent access to your own car then occasional taxis have the edge over the long term capital and recurrent costs of running one. But the key point is: no payment in advance, no commitment to spend levels, no true-up.
And it needn’t be “public”. I’m perfectly happy to include what are called “private cloud” services in the definition, so long as they are still true Cloud by the criteria below. But the key point here is: Cloud is not just a new word for a conventionally provisioned in-house data centre.
Many, many service vendors are rebranding their outsourced or managed services as “Cloud” to cash in on the hype. There’s a massive overlap between what we consider “virtualised” and what we consider “Cloud”. And service buyers are adding to this by insisting that cloud services must be as secure, stable and long-term an investment as any other outsourcing deal. Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt ride again.
Some (many) years ago, I was part of the team operating a then-new ICL 2980 for London University. The “V” in “VME/B” stood for “Virtual” and we had to learn (and explain to the users) the differences of a virtualised system and the advantages it could offer in the way they approached its use. Yes, this was the totally modern 1980s. Other operating systems were “going virtual” too, and one of the trade papers (I think it was Computer Weekly) ran a definition I’ve always remembered:
If it’s there, and you can see it: it’s REAL
If it’s there, and you CAN’T see it: it’s TRANSPARENT
If it’s NOT there, and you CAN see it: it’s VIRTUAL
If it’s NOT there, and you CAN’T see it: it’s GONE.
I think we add one more:
If it’s NOT there until you WANT it: it’s CLOUD.
And here are my criteria for a service to be called Cloud:
• accessed over the network using Internet protocols
• available immediately on demand
• de-provisioned immediately after use
• easy sign-up
• no long term commitment to the service provider …
• … nor by the provider to the customer
• payment strictly by usage metering
• payment after the fact, not in advance
• as near infinitely flexible capacity as can be
• Larry Ellison and Marc Benioff Just Can’t Agree: What Is the Cloud? Forbes, 6 Sep 2011
• ICL VME, Wikipedia
Licence Management in a virtual estate 7 Sep 2011Posted by Tony Law in Insight services, ITasITis, Managing IT, Technorati, Uncategorized.
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I have been researching for an event discussing licence management for virtualised and cloud-based services. For those involved in these issues, here are some links I uncovered.
Platform virtualisation vendors include the market leaders (VMWare and Microsoft), Citrix, Oracle, Parallels and Red Hat, as well as SUSE whose status in the marketplace is uncertain following parent Novell’s acquisition by Attachmate. The Xen and KVM Open Source projects in this area are the basis of some products, particularly those from Oracle, SUSE, Citrix and Red Hat. Where licence management is required across a virtual estate, it’s important to know which virtualisation infrastructures are supported.
Both Gartner (Magic Quadrant) and Forrester (TechRadar) have recent reports, accessible to clients, on the infrastructure virtualization marketplace.
• Microsoft Server and Cloud Platform
• Oracle Virtualization
• Citrix Application and Desktop Virtualization and Server Virtualization and Cloud Infrastructure
• Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization
• Parallels Server Virtualization (note, Parallels desktop virtualisation is aimed at running multiple environments on a single desktop machine, rather than towards machine-room virtualisation of desktops)
Links: licence management vendors
• Flexera Software: Manage Virtual Software Licenses states that FlexNet Manager Suite for Enterprises includes VMware discovery and inventory capabilities but does not mention other hypervisors, and there is no obvious mention of virtualisation discovery in the product description
• ExpressMetrix: Going Virtual? Stay True to Licensing Rules, white paper originally published in June 2008; Express Software Manager has virtual environment capabilities
• FrontRange Discovery and FrontRange License Manager, from FrontRange Solutions, will address VMWare and Microsoft virtualised platforms. License Manager can import bulk data from Discovery or from other discovery suites. Centennial Software, the originator of these suites, was acquired by FrontRange in 2008 and the Centennial branding is now being discontinued. Web searches for Centennial products will link to Centennial pages on the FrontRange site but not all onward links work correctly.
• ComplianceConsole from Concorde Solutions (a UK company) claims to work across a virtual estate but does not mention specific virtualisation vendors
• Snow Software‘s License Manager includes support for most (but not all) virtualisation platforms: App-V, hyper-v, VMware and Citrix
Links: white papers
• Managing License Compliance in Virtualized Environments, Steve Butler, Virtual Strategy Magazine, 8 Apr 2009
• Microsoft vs. VMware Battle Clouded By Licensing Claims, Kurt Mackie, Redmond Mag, 29 Aug 2011, includes some useful comments on licensing
• Forrester TechRadar: Infrastructure Virtualization, Q2 2011, 11 May 2011
• Gartner: Magic Quadrant for x86 Server Virtualization Infrastructure, 30 Jun 2011, Gartner ID G00213635. This document is currently accessible only to Gartner clients. The 2010 Quadrant is available from VMWare and I’d anticipate that the 2011 update will appear accessibly in due course
• Gartner: Cool Vendors in IT Asset Management, 2011, 7 April 2011, Gartner ID G00211342. Gartner suggest in the preamble to this document that “Despite a continued focus on tools, Gartner finds that clients derive more value from the professional services expertise of IT asset management vendors. ITAM professionals should look beyond big names in ITAM software and services for this innovation”. So far as can be determined, this report is not provided online by any vendor.