My 5 Enterprise Cloud Predictions for 2013

imageI believe that this is the year when the enterprise will find its way to the cloud.

The mega Internet sites and applications are the new era enterprises. These will become the role models for the traditional enterprise. IT needs remain the same with regards to scale, security, SLA, etc. However, the traditional enterprise CIO has already set the goal for next year: 100% efficiency.

The traditional CIO understands that in order to achieve that goal, IT will need to start and do cloud, make sure that IT resources are utilized right, and that his teams move fast.

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Who Stole my CPU ?

One of the most important features of the cloud is the sharing of resources by multi-tenants. Without sharing and being able to optimize utilization of resources, the cloud operator can’t provide scalability and support “economies of scale” for its business. The IaaS public contains its “cloud magic” as well as real hardware such as computing, storage and network devices. The utilization of these resources should be optimized by meeting demand (by time), hence they must be shared between the cloud consumers.

What is Steal Time?

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ClickSoftware – Great Case of an AWS Cloud Adoption: Part 1, Operations

imageOver the last year I had endless conversations with companies that strive to adopt the cloud – specifically the Amazon cloud. Of those I met, I can say that ClickSoftware is one of the leading traditional ISVs that managed to adopt the cloud. The Amazon cloud is with no doubt the most advanced cloud computing facility, leading the market. In my previous job I was involved in the ClickSoftware cloud initiative, from decision making with regards to Amazon cloud all the way to taking the initial steps to educate and support the company’s different parties in providing an On-Demand SaaS offering.

ClickSoftware provides a comprehensive range of workforce management software solutions designed to help service organizations face head-on the challenges of inefficiency. With maximizing the utilization of your resources is the lifeblood of your service organization and has developed a suite of solutions and services that reach the heart of the problem.

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IGT: Story of a Leading Cloud Computing Institute

Next week, on Oct 23rd in Tel Aviv we welcome the annual conference of IGT – The Israeli Association of Cloud Computing. Started in 2008, this is the 5th year that this international conference takes place in the vibrant city of Tel Aviv located alongside the Jaffa coastline. This year the conference will no longer discuss what is the cloud and how it disrupting the IT world. This year the conference holds two themes: Big Data and SaaS business.

In a discussion I had with Mr. Avner Algom, Founder and CEO of IGT, he noted:

““Every year we strive to bring the international industry leaders and, as our community grows, it just becomes more appealing and it’s easier to get them to come. Without a doubt, the question “What is Cloud?” is behind us. This year’s conference focus is on Big Data and SaaS. These are important issues for cloud companies and cloud business as these are strongly tied together in the cloud”” said Avner Algom, IGT CEO.

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Cloud Security Management – Overview and Challenges

What’s your first priority cloud security concern ?

From an attacker’s perspective, cloud providers aggregate access to many victims’ data into a single point of entry. As the cloud environments become more and more popular, they will increasingly become the focus of attacks. Some organizations think that liability can be outsourced, but no, it cannot! This presentation will answer questions such as what are the key security challenges for new cloud comers. What are the options and how you can start with a safe cloud deployment?

My presentation includes the followings and more:

  • The different Cloud security aspects
  • The cloud vendor versus the cloud customer – the responsibility perception
  • How Newvem helps its customers to avoid AWS cloud security vulnerabilities leveraging eco-system of cloud vendors.

Newvem partnered IGT Cloud meetups and opened a cloud management forum conferences. These conferences focus is on the key aspects of cloud management such as cost, security, compliance and more. Each meetup includes different lectures and include real case studies. All the sessions are recorded and published on a mutual videos channel.

Amazon Cloud and the Enterprise – Is it a love story? (Free Infographic Included)

As befitting any great online vendor, Amazon cloud product guys listen carefully to their market targets and ensure fast implementation and delivery to satisfy their needs. It is clear that Amazon cloud is eager to conquer the enterprise market, as I already mentioned in my past post, “Amazon AWS is the Cloud (for now anyway)”.

Cloud Reserved Capcity Card

Key buzzwords that I expect are being used in Amazon HQ holes are “adoption” and “migration”. In order for the AWS cloud to reel in the big enterprise fishes, the cloud giant must go with the flow. This week Amazon cloud announced “AWS Cost Allocation For Customer Bills” – As a matter of fact Amazon announced that it believes in instances’ tagging – why? in the cloud, where a single instance doesn’t count, do you need a tag? The answer is simple – enterprise customers’ requests.
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Adoption, TCO and ROI

In the past I had an interesting discussion with a cloud oerations VP of a great known traditional ISV (independent software vendor) about how after their POC on AWS they found that the costs are not feasible, and they wanted to go back on-premises. The winds of rejection, such as “our servers are better” and “why pay so much when I already could buy these”  (someone once called these IT guys the “server huggers”) are still there. Amazon understands that and strives to fill the gap between their advanced “cloud understating” and the traditional perception of the enterprise.

This week Amazon published an important white paper – The Total Cost of (Non) Ownership of Web Applications in the Cloud . Finding it important AWS marketing guys promoted it everywhere from Werner’s (AWS famous CTO) blog  all the way to TechCrunch. The PDF write-up done  by Jinesh Varia, one of the most respected Technology Evangelists at Amazon. The article presented three cases of online site utilization, starting from a “Steady State Website” to “Spiky but Predictable”, all the way to “Uncertain and Unpredictable”. The article discusses the cost differences between on-premise and on AWS. Without a doubt, AWS is much better if only because of its on-demand elastic capacity. Besides being a great informative educational piece, the article serves as an important support guide for enterprise CIOs who wishes to prove that AWS is worth the investment and that ROI exists.

Reserved is the new Dedicated

Yesterday, Newvem cloud usage analytics published a cool infographic that reveals details behind AWS including the types of customers and their cost improvement opportunities. Check it out below (disclosure: I am the company cloud evangelist and community Chief). It is not a surprise that the enterprise customers start small with AWS on-demand instances, while suffering from major costs. Many enterprise CIOs and DevOps that use AWS are confronted with the dilemma  of whether or not to move their cloud off AWS to a private cloud, usually when they’re footprint has scaled to a high level and opportunities for cost savings from alternatives become more attractive. The only way to understand the exact balance point between on-demand and reserved capacity is by analyzing your past patterns – Newvem does exactly that and more.

It is all about your usage. For example, in order for a Costco membership purchase to make sense, you have to know how much you and your family will use for the year (for example, how much cereal your children will eat).The same principle applies here with Reserved Instances (at least for the light and medium plans). AWS cloud customers are not buying the actual instance as a dedicated server but pay upfront to get an ongoing discount point. In order for Reserved Instances to make sense, a consistent amount of usage over a 1-3 year period must be identified. Though the fact it is not a dedicated hardware the reserved instance feature can help the AWS sales guy to offer a dedicated capacity to the potential enterprise CIO.

Last Words

I believe that Amazon already has a significant toehold inside the enterprise. The AWS cloud enables innovation and makes a great difference in how IT is consumed. Enterprise changes in perception take time and AWS understands that. The cloud hype is everywhere, but at the end of the road the cloud elasticity just makes sense – not only for the small niche SaaS vendor but also and maybe even more so for the traditional enterprise. Indeed a love story!

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Demystifying Amazon Web Services
by newvem.Check out our data visualization blog.
(Cross-posted on CloudAve)

Amazon Outage: Is it a Story of a Conspiracy? – Chapter 2

In April 2011, when Amazon’s cloud s east region failed. I posted the first chapter of theAmazon Cloud Outage Conspiracy – it was already very clear that the cloud will fail again and here it is… Chapter 2

Let’s first try to understand Amazon’s explanation for this outage.

At approximately 8:44PM PDT, there was a cable fault in the high voltage Utility power distribution system. Two Utility substations that feed the impacted Availability Zone went offline, causing the entire Availability Zone to fail over to generator power. All EC2 instances and EBS volumes successfully transferred to back-up generator power.

Ok. So the AZ power failed over to generator power.

At 8:53PM PDT, one of the generators overheated and powered off because of a defective cooling fan. At this point, the EC2 instances and EBS volumes supported by this generator failed over to their secondary back-up power (which is provided by a completely separate power distribution circuit complete with additional generator capacity).

Ok. So the generator failed over to a separate power circuit.

Unfortunately, one of the breakers on this particular back-up power distribution circuit was incorrectly configured to open at too low a power threshold and opened when the load transferred to this circuit. After this circuit breaker opened at 8:57PM PDT, the affected instances and volumes were left without primary, back-up, or secondary back-up power.

Ok. So the power circuit was not configured right and the computing resources didn’t get enough power (or something like that).

> > > Did you get that?

Sounds like it might be something as simple as someone stumbling on a wire that led to all that. Anyway Quora, Heroku, Dropbox and other sites failed again due to the cloud outage and were down for hours. The power outage resulted in down time and inconsistent behavior of EC2 services including instances, EBS volumes, RDS and unresponsive API.

After about 5 hours, Amazon announced that they had managed to recover most of EBS (Elastic Block Store) volumes:

“Almost all affected EBS volumes have been brought back online. Customers should check the status of their volumes in the console. We are still seeing increased latencies and errors in registering instances with ELBs.”

Once Quora was back online, I opened the thread – What are the lessons learned from Amazon’s June 2012 us-east-1 outage? Among the great answers submitted, I want to point to a specific interesting feedback returned with regard to the fragility of the EBS volume, suggesting working with an instance store instead of EBS-backed instances. The differences between these two include costs, availability and performance considerations. It is important to learn the differences between these two options and make a smart decision on which to base your cloud environment.

> > > Education

Anyway, back to our conspiracy. In comparison to the last outage, right after this outage new Amazon AWS experts were born who spouted the cloud giant mantra with regards to its building blocks: Amazon provides the tools and resources to create a robust environment, proudly tweeting that their based AWS service didn’t fail. This proves that the April outage served Amazon well with regards to customers’ education. Though there were still some mega websites that failed again.

So, does Amazon examine if its customers improved their deployments following last year outage? Does the cloud giant continue to teach its customers using outage drills? Is that a conspiracy?

> > > Additional Revenues

The outage raised again the discussion with regards to the distinct availability (AZ) zone. Again it seems that the impacted resources on a specific AZ affected the whole AWS east region while generating API latency and inconsistencies (API errors varied from 500s to 503s to RequestLimitExceeded). High availability best practice includes backup, mirroring and distributing traffic between at least two availability zones. The impact on the region apparent hence the dependency between AZs strengthens the need to maintain cross regions or even cross clouds disaster recovery (DR) practice.

These DR practices include more computing resources and data transfer (between AZs and regions), meaning significant additional costs which apparently support the cloud giant’s revenue growth. Is that a conspiracy?

> > > Final words

The cloud giant is a leader and a guide to other IaaS as well as new PaaS players. Without a doubt – Amazon is the Cloud (for now anyway).

To clarifyI don’t think that there is any conspiracy. This is part of the learning curve of the market, including the customers and the vendors, specifically Amazon. Lots of online discussions and articles were published in the last few days explaining what happened and what the AWS cloud’s customers should learn.

No doubt that the cloud will fail again. I believe that although the customers are ultimately responsible for the high availability of their services, the AWS cloud guys should also take a step back to learn and improve – every additional outage diminishes from the cloud’s reliability as a place for all.

(Cross-posted on CloudAve)