5 Key Essentials of Cloud Workloads Migration

imageThe benefits of migrating workloads between different cloud providers or between private and public clouds can only truly be redeemed with an understanding of the cloud business model and cloud workload management. It seems that cloud adoption has reached the phase where advanced cloud users are creating their own hybrid solutions or migrating between clouds while striving to achieve interoperability values within their systems. This article aims to answer some of the questions that arise when managing cloud workloads.

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Amazon AWS is the Cloud (for now anyway)

Every day I talk, write and comment about the “Cloud”. Every time I mention the cloud I try to make sure that I add the name of the relevant cloud operator, “Rackspace Cloud, “MS Cloud” (Azure) or “HP Cloud”. Somehow all of these cloud titles don’t right to me – it seems the only title that really works for me is the “Amazon Cloud”. In this post, I will elaborate about the competition in the IaaS market and I will explain further why I think this is so.

HP vs. Amazon AWS

Earlier this month, HP announced release of a public cloud offering based on Openstack in a public bet. Zorowar Biri Singh, SVP and GM for HP Cloud Services, admitted that HP is really late to market and he also added that:

HP believes that startups – particularly those that sell services to enterprises – will want to move off Amazon as they grow but won’t want to build their own data centers. Read more

Last year I attend the HP cloud tech day. It was amazing to see this giant fighting for its life on the IT field. It is one thing to be able to promote public cloud, but you also need to select your words carefully. Singh’s statements aren’t in line with a public cloud strategy; on the contrary, they focus on the fact that HP’s state of mind is not ready for delivering a true public cloud. Establishing a public cloud is one thing, but leading with the right strategy is what counts – trivial isn’t it?

We’re not necessarily the first place a startup is going to look for in getting going. But I can assure you we’ve also got the type global footprint and an SLA and a business-grade point of view that understands the enterprise. That’s what we’re betting on.

I strongly suggest Mr. Singh be more careful. Specifically, these types of statements remind me of Kodak –  they claimed to have a strong hold on the market, they maintained that as people shoot more digital photos eventually they will print more. On January this year the 131-year-old company filed for bankruptcy.

SAP on Amazon AWS

AWS and SAP Announced Certification of AWS Infrastructure for SAP Business All-in-One Solutions Research Study Shows Infrastructure Cost Savings of up to 69% when Running SAP Solutions on AWS Read More

Due to market demand forces, SAP was forced to find its way in the cloud. In 2007, SAP announced the launch of BusinessByDesign, its (SaaS) On-Demand initiative, with no success while their customer base drifted to companies like Salesforce and Netsuite. This month SAP finally announced that they believe in the public cloud by making an interesting supportive move and partnering with the Cloud – Amazon AWS.

Customers now have the flexibility to deploy their SAP solutions and landscapes on the scalable, on-demand AWS platform without making required long-term commitments or costly capital expenditures for their underlying infrastructure. Learn more about the offering. Read More

This SAP certification strengthens the AWS position in the enterprise (for your attention Mr. Singh). IMHO SAP made a great decision to “go with the flow” and not resist it.

Openstack vs. Eucalyptus for Amazon AWS

Openstack was initiated by Rackspace and NASA in 2010. Today this cloud open source project is supported by about 150 IT and hardware companies such as Dell and HP, which trust this platform and are investing in building their public cloud with it.

It’s maybe two or three years before OpenStack will have matured to the point where it has enough features to be useful. The challenge that everyone else has is Amazon is not only bigger than them, it’s accelerating away from them.   –Netflix cloud architect Adrian Cockcroft

In March of this year, Amazon guys published their belief in the private and hybrid cloud by announcing their signed alliance with Eucalyptus, which delivers open-source software for building an AWS compatible private cloud. In April, Eucalyptus published its $30M series C funding. Together with Amazon and SAP’s joining of forces, this accentuates the fact that Amazon AWS is very seriously about conquering a share of the enterprise IT market (again ..for your attention Mr. Singh). This week I attend IGTCloud  OpenStack 2012 summit in Tel Aviv. I was hoping to hear some news about the progress and the improvement of this platform and I found nothing that can harm the AWS princess for the next few years. OpenStack is mainly ready for vendors who wants to run into the market with a really immature and naive cloud offering. I do believe that the giant vendors’ “Openstack Consortium” will be able to present an IaaS platform, but how much time will it take? Does the open cloud platform perception accelerate its development or the other way around? Still, for now, Amazon is the only Cloud.

Microsoft and Google vs. Amazon AWS

This month Derrick Harris published his scoop on GigaOm –  “Google, Microsoft both targeting Amazon with new clouds”. I am not sure whether it is a real scoop. It is kind of obvious that both giants strive to find their place in Gartner’s Gartner Magic Quadrant report:

IaaS by Gartner

With regards to Microsoft, the concept of locking in the customer is in the company’s blood and has led the MSDN owner to present Azure with its “PaaS first” strategy.  I had several discussions with MS Azure guys last year requesting to check the “trivial” IaaS option for self-provisioning of a cloud window instance. Already back then they said that it was on their roadmap and soon to be available.

This month AWS CTO Werner Vogells promoted the enablement of RDS services for MSSQL on his blog, noting:

You can run Amazon RDS for SQL Server under two different licensing models – “License Included” and Microsoft License Mobility. Under the License Included service model, you do not need to purchase SQL Server software licenses. “License Included” pricing starts at $0.035/hour and is inclusive of SQL Server software, hardware, and Amazon RDS management capabilities.

Is that good for Microsoft? It seems that Amazon AWS is the one to finally enable Microsoft platforms as pay-per-use service that is also compatible with the on-premise MS application deployments. One can say that by supporting this new AWS feature, Microsoft actually supports the natural evolution of AWS to become a PaaS vendor, putting their own PaaS offering at risk.

IMHO, Google is a hope. The giant web vendor has the XaaS concept running in its blood, so I believe that once Google presents it IaaS offering it will be a great competitor for AWS and Openstack ways. Another great advantage of AWS over these guys, and others, is its proven “economies of scale” and pricing agility. Microsoft and Google will need to take a deep breath and invest vast amounts of money to compete with the AWS – not only to build an IaaS vendor experience  but to improve upon their pricing.

Final Words

I can go on and discuss Rackspace cloud (managed services…) or IBM smart (enterprise…) cloud. Each of these great clouds has its own degree of immaturity in comparison to the Cloud.

Last week I had quick chat with Zohar Alon, CEO at Dome9, a cloud security start-up. The new start-up implemented its service across respectable amount of cloud operators.

I asked Mr. Alon to tell me, based on his experience, whether he agrees with me about the state of the IaaS market and the immaturity of the other cloud vendors in comparison to AWS cloud. He responded:

 The foresight to include Security Groups, the inbound little firewalls that protect your instances from most network threats, was a key product decision, early on by Amazon AWS. Even today, years after Security Groups launched, other cloud providers don’t offer a viable comparable.

The cloud changed the way we consume computation and networking so we can’t (and shouldn’t be able to) call our cloud provider and ask them to “install an old-school firewall in front of my cloud”. Amazon AWS was the first to realize that, and turned what looked like a limitation of the cloud, into an advantage and a competitive differentiator! At Dome9 we work with DevOps running hundreds of instances in a multitude of regions and offer them next generation control, management and automation for their AWS security, leveraging the AWS Security Groups API.

I am sure that this basic security capability must be delivered by the cloud operator itself. Cloud company is a new perception, it is not technical – it is strategic. Amazon follows its strategy with some of cloud basic guidelines: Continuous Deployment, Fast Delivery, API first, Low level of lock in, Full visibility and honesty, and so on. When Amazon AWS started in 2006, people didn’t understand what they were doing though the company leaders understood the business potential. Without a doubt, for now anyway, the Cloud is Amazon.

(Cross-posted on CloudAve Cloud & Business Strategy)

The Cloud in HP’s Cloud

Last week I was invited to the HP Tech Day in HP’s campus in Houston to learn and hear more about the giant’s cloud offering. I appreciate HP and Ivy very much for the invitation and for a great event where I was able to learn more and see these clouds in real. I had the privilege to meet savvy and professional guys. It is always great to see people that are enthusiastic on their jobs and are proud of their company. Let me share with you HP’s cloud from my point of view.

> > > The EcoPOD

HP’s guys took me and a my fellow bloggers on a great journey inside HP’s cloud. The most fascinating adventure from me was the HP EcoPOD, an out-of-the-box, ready-made hosting/cloud infrastructure creature. The finalization of the product seems to be a perfect art and with no doubt HP is still a great infrastructure market leader. The Ecopod units serves IaaS providers, huge enterprises and mega websites. The investment of buying this ready-made bank of servers can be stretched from 3 to 5 years commitment so you can actually consider that as a subscription based service. The HP private cloud offering ruled the tech day including support for bursting internally or over to a public cloud, supported by Saavis. Read more about HP’s cloud bursting on TechTalk by Philip Sellers

> > > The Cloud In HP’s Cloud

The second part of the IaaS is the software for provisioning, maintaining and controlling of the cloud resources. For that matter HP conduct a several hours of demonstration of its CloudSystem product. Once the cloud infrastructure deployed, the enterprise can provision the virtual resources, orchestrate and create a catalog of app stacks utilizing the CloudSystem. One of the main features of the platform is the Cloud Maps (I really love the name) that enables the enterprise’ IT to plan and create new app stacks or even import ready made ones straight from the HP web portal. The UI/UX is very compelling though the management capabilities are very basic. I am not sure that I saw a real cloud environment but an upgraded virtualization control and provisioning application. Following my debates on that I was told that there are some implementations of an elastic environment using custom adjustments. HP also revealed that they are working on an OpenStack implementation though I wasn’t convinced enough to believe that there are serious plans for this matter. Due to the lack of out-of-the-box features such as auto-scaling and elasticity as well as the lack of a real cloud perception that a server is just one atomic unit, I still wonder where is the cloud in HP’s cloud ?


On a “cloud security” session, I raised a basic cloud security issue, where the enterprise need to be able to maintain SSO and IAM solutions to all its applications’ portfolio including the SaaS ones. I asked to know if HP support that kind of features or plan to do so in the future. The HP response was not satisfying and led me to think again about the extreme separation between the infrastructure and the applications that the cloud brought. The answer I anticipated to hear was really simple: As an IaaS provider, HP focuses on the internal network security and the access to the on-premise physical and virtual resources. The SaaS players have the responsibility to provide extensions that integrate with the enterprise private cloud and support issues such as SSO.

It is an evident that the cloud brought the need to re-position the traditional IT vendor offerings and make sure these are related to the specific cloud layer (IaaS, PaaS or SaaS), otherwise it is a confusing play that presents a great risk to the business future.

> > > Conclusion

It is clear that this veteran market leader as other IT giants finds itself segmented into a new definition as an IaaS vendor. The giant struggles getting into a leadership position in this emerging market as it is surrounded by a great competition coming from old competitors such as IBM or Oracle. Furthermore I think that a greater competition comes from the advanced cloud vendors such as Amazon, Rackspace, Salesforce and more others that already taking a great market share. I find it exciting to watch the market evolves, how new business threats are born and how the industry giants pushing hard to find their golden path all over again.

The IaaS Management Market: Evolution, Vendors and More

A lot has already been said about the false cloud use where the IaaS platform utilized as an hosting extension of the IT organization’s data center and not taking advantage of the elasticity benefits to generate a cost effective and scalable IT operation. Using the public IaaS whether it is Amazon, Rackspace or any other vendor means using a highly dynamic environment which presents an increasing complexity hence loss of control. Checking the list below I can say that cloud (including all its layers IaaS, PaaS and SaaS) control basically contains the same aspects as the good old system management.

What is “System management” ?

“refers to enterprise-wide administration of distributed systems including (and commonly in practice) computer systems.”

“System management may involve one or more of the following tasks:

  • Hardware inventories
  • Server availability monitoring and metrics
  • Software inventory and installation
  • Anti-virus and anti-malware management
  • User’s activities monitoring
  • Capacity monitoring
  • Security management
  • Storage management
  • Network capacity and utilization monitoring”

Read More on Wikipedia

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The Cloud Lock-In (Part 2): The Great Lock-In of PaaS

As we climb up the cloud layers scale, the complexity increases hence the vendor lock-in. PaaS as well as SaaS layers present stronger vendor lock-in than the IaaS layer. 

Did you read the 1st part on IaaS Lock-In ? The Cloud Lock-In (Part 1): Public IaaS is Great !

The PaaS vendor releases the “cloud applications’ developers” from the need to maintain the script or the database environments. The PaaS vendor takes responsibility of aspects such as the application deployment, the big data, scalability and availability by enabling features such as multi-tenancy and cluster management. The market is dominated by PaaS offerings like Google Apps Engine, Force.com, Heroku, Xeround, MS Azure, Engine Yard, Cloud Bees, Gigaspaces, Apprenda and others.

Click here to find more information about the PaaS Market.

PaaS is evolving to become the masterful approach towards “cloud software development”. When approaching PaaS, the IT organization should take in mind that there is a reasonable risk that it will quickly be tied to a single programming platform and will not be able to move its applications and data between vendors (PaaS or IaaS). One of the main key points for this discussion is the IaaS portability capability. Let’s first define these two types of a PaaS vendor: 

1 – Public PaaSThe public PaaS vendor offering includes the hosting platform. The  IaaS layer isn’t exposed to the PaaS customer. The customer doesn’t control the IaaS layer at all and the IaaS portability is limited only to the IaaS platforms which the PaaS vendor supports.

2 – Private PaaS: The private PaaS vendor delivers only the wrapper layer that enables the application deployment over an IaaS. The customer has full control over the IaaS including its portability.

Important Note: Currently there is a lack of good definition on that subject. You may think that there is a relation to the public or private IaaS so no ! there is no relation. The difference is that the private PaaS is a completely outsource model and build-it-yourself and it can be deployed on Public and Private IaaS. 

>  >  >  > Public PaaS: Your PaaS vendor chooses the IaaS for you

I found the following statements in an interesting debate between a MS Azure customer and an Amazon AWS customer. It was published on GigaOM this month and I find it appropriate for the PaaS lock-in discussion:

“Getting stuck in a single framework like .NET where there is only one “provider” for .NET tools can be a huge hindrance in any future decisions you make as a company. Microsoft (and Azure as default) seems to be all about lock-in.  Lock-in on the operating system, lock-in on the language platform, as well as lock-in on the Azure services. Also, many companies do have to solve big compute problems that Java, unlike .NET, is well positioned for. While many larger companies don’t have to be as concerned with lock-in — this is a very scary thought for most start-ups that need a clearer longer-term cost structure.” 

Neither Microsoft nor Amazon are going away anytime soon. I would make a decision based on one thing and one thing only — bleeding edge capability and lock-in. “

The great debate: Windows Azure vs. Amazon Web Services

> > MS Azure
These debate’s statements above brought me to search and find for more materials on MS Azure platform in regards to vendor lock-in:

“While every platform has some degree of lock-in, you should look for a partner that offers the ability to move your application into your own data center without completely re-writing it. Avoiding lock-in entirely probably isn’t possible, but making an effort to minimize it up front makes sense. “

I found this statement in the article “The benefits and risks of cloud platforms” written by David Chappel and published on the MS Azure site. I definitely don’t agree with Chappel and I think it is ridiculous (I thought alot before using this word..) to think that after investing in shifting to the cloud (not as an additional hosting), a company will consider moving back to its premise (Disclosure: `I Am OnDemand` is not sponsored by Amazon AWS or any other MS competitor. ;)). For “MS ISV” that is already locked on Microsoft platforms I can just say that the shift to the cloud might be a good point to re-think and re-plan its infrastructures including its lock-ins (I recommend to check Apprenda as an additional option to help with cloud enablement).

> > Force.com

As well as MS Azure the same strong lock-in should be mentioned when discussing Force.com, again the lack of IaaS portability capability and the “closed source” programming language and database. 

Salesforce.com bills Force.com as “The leading cloud platform for business apps.” It is definitely not for me, though. The showstopper: infrastructure portability. If I develop an application using the Apex programming language, I can only run in the Force.com “cloud” infrastructure.” Read a bit more about Force.com lock-in on Mike Gualtieri his Forrester blog post “May Force.com Not Be With You by”

Force.com Vs. MS AzureRead this discussion on Quora

> > Heroku

Understanding that “cloud apps developers” find lock-in as a major issue as well as the rising of Rubi on-Rails among those developers, led Saleforce to acquire Heroku.The Heroku PaaS supports standard interfaces for web services such as HTTP, JSON and XML. They also support open source languages such as Java, Ruby, PHPFog and databases such as PostgreSQL and MySQL. Heroku has been extended to support Java and also been integrated with Salesforce’s Database.com. Salesforce did a clever move that expands its PaaS capabilities. It is great that presenting an open source platform strengthens the company market positioning as one of the world’s cloud and PaaS giants.

Heroku Vs. Engine YardRead this discussion on StackOverFlow

> > Xeround

Another interesting player in the market is Xeround which delivers database as a service. Following my conversation with Xeround CTO, Mr. Avi Kapuya it seems that the competition is more aggressive than in the traditional world where the giant software vendors hold most of the market for run-time script and DB platforms. I asked Mr. Kapuya about Xeround lock-in and he responded that: 

“Lock-in is a subject we take seriously so that customers don’t want lock-in is a basic premise. We make sure to provide our customer the flexibility by supporting MySql interface. The user can easily import his data back to his end any time straight from our site. The same way around a new user can simply upload the data to Xeround platform and continue to work with his ordinary MySql development tools”.

In regards to IaaS portability Kapuya added that:

We consider the portability between public clouds as a service. We run our platform on several IaaS such as AWS and Rackspace and we give our customer the option to select the preferable one. Once a customer asks to move his database from Amazon AWS to RackspaceXeround will move the database to Rackspace, and will shutdown the Amazon database accordingly. Furthermore, our prices are derived from the IaaS vendor prices”

The IaaS portability presented by Xeround differs them from the other vendors I mentioned above. Further more I think that this is an important benefit for Xeround’s customers as they can better trust Xeround with its availability and future options in regards to cloud interoperability and federation.

What are cloud interoperability and federation? Check I Am OnDemand terminology page.

>  >  > > Private PaaS: IaaS at your choice

The other side of the PaaS lock-in story is the private PaaS. Private PaaS vendor provides the application’s “cloud wrapper” and solves issues such as service deployment and scalability. Those can be achieved by enabling multi-tenancy enablement, clustering management, database distribution etc. Traditional ISVs specifically can use private PaaS help with their shift to the cloud. The private PaaS can be deployed on private as well as on public IaaS.

> > Cloud Foundry by VMWare

Discussions on PaaS lock-in should include Cloud Foundry. Cloud Foundry includes SpringSource Framework, an enterprise Java programming model that VMware picked up in its August 2009 acquisition of SpringSource. On April this year VMWare announced Cloud Foundry initiative to support multiple frameworks, multiple cloud providers and multiple application services all on a cloud scale platform.

Watch the Cloud Foundry webinars on the PaaS playlist on I Am OnDemand YouTube Channel

Proud on their PaaSVMWare opened the site DeveloperRights.org and listed the cloud’s developer rights that will help avoid lock-in. I vote for the following:

“The Right to Cloud Portability – The choice of clouds shall not be infringed, today or in the future. If an application works in one cloud or on our laptop, it should work in any cloud and not require learning a new deployment model. “

>  > GigaSpaces

In the private PaaS market you will also find Gigaspaces. I had the privilege to meet the company founder and CTO Mr. Nati Shalom who is a well known and appreciated cloud blogger in the market. I strongly recommend checking his personal blog which presents deep technical analysis of PaaS issues. Gigaspaces was founded in 2000 and over the years it struggled with bringing its PaaS vision to the market.The rise of cloud computing and the growth of the market helped Gigaspaces with its business growth. In regards to the differences between public to private paas Shalom said:

“Another difference between PaaS vendor such as Gigaspaces to vendors such as Azure is that the former provides a solution contrary to the latter that provides a product and tools. Using Azure you still have alot to invest in order to have a working application, as for example perform big data aggregations to eventually generate business analytics.”

Gigaspaces invested 3 years in developing an abstraction layer that enables compatibility with a private environment or a specific public IaaSGigaspace Cloudify product enables ISVs to deploy its platform on on public or private cloud infrastructure. Answering the vendor lock-in issue Shalom said: 

“We don’t care what are the application containers including the run-time and database. Our abstract layer wraps the app stack without any changes to the app run-time. Actually it contains number of recipes that defines an application from outside. The layer also holds list of metrics and the relevant SLA rules. For each metrics there is a threshold and an action. 

> > Apprenda

Another vendor that I talked with in regards to private PaaS lock-in is Apprenda. Following my conversation with Sinclair Schuller, the company CEO and Co-Founder, I find that the cloud lock-in issue is not only the cloud customer consideration but can be served as a business initiation incentive. Apprenda is specialized with public cloud enablement and support for ISVs and enterprises that work with Microsoft development platforms such as MS .NET, SQL Server, ASP.NET & Silverlight. Naturally the main competition of Apprenda is with MS Azure. It is a fact that ISVs that don’t want to be locked in Azure infrastructure will find Apprenda appealing. Contrary to the traditional world and following developers’ experience it is a fact that lock-in has a great impact on the cloud decision considerations. Apprenda clearly proves that the cloud lock-in issue can actually generate new business. “Which Part of the Public vs. Private Cloud Elephant Are You Touching?” by Schuller

> > > > Conclusion

When selecting a PaaS solution, the lesson is that you should always look for the option, if only in theory, to move to another provider without having to completely rewrite your application code. In order to decrease the lock-in risks, you must think carefully about your application business logic when implementing so when conversion is needed you will be able to use the data and the app structure from one platform to re-build the apps in another. Read more on how to select a PaaS provider.

“So what will be the best choice for the IT organization?” I asked Shalom. He answered: 

“The trade off is between simplicity and control. If you want to get control you will pay in complexity and skills and if you want simplicity you will need to compromise on your control. The space in between those two is filled with the customer urge to get the control and the simplicity. The balance can be achieved by a hybrid perception. The IT organization should be able to adopt both concepts, use the vendors like Gigaspaces for its mission critical applications and vendors such as Heroku to deploy the “lighter” applications such as the mobile extensions for the enterprise apps”

In his CIO blog post “Cloud Computing: What You Need to Know About PaaS, points Bernard Golden on “the things IT leaders should think as they begin to evaluate their PaaS options”. It is not surprising that lock-in is the first thing in his list:

I’m less disposed than many to see lock-in as purely negative, as in my experience organizations embrace lock-in because it provides significant benefits”

Following my research and my mantra about the open cloud eco-system world I tempted to say that public PaaS is my preferable option as it also includes great business benefits such as time to market and small investment in comparison with the private PaaS. I also tend to agree with Shalom in regards to his hybrid PaaS perception.

The PaaS vendor must recognize the “open cloud world” with its business benefits as it extends the vendor’s eco-system as well as the amount of new opportunities. Thanks to the traditional software giants (i.e MS, Oracle, etc.) and the open source evolution, IT organizations are much more experienced with choosing their vendors. Lock-in must be positioned higher in the PaaS vendor evaluation considerations list and weak lock-in is a huge benefit.

Part 3 will discuss SaaS vendor lock-in

Stay tuned with I Am OnDemand.