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Top 7 requirements for infrastructure cloud providers in 2010

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This is a summary of the post on the VMOps blog.

1) Inexpensive storage

The storage industry is built on the back of NAS and SAN, but for cloud providers, the overwhelming preference is for inexpensive local disk, or DAS solutions. … every cloud provider I talk with expects storage to be independent of the host physical server, redundant, and provide support for HA.

2) Open source hypervisor

Service providers know that if they plan to compete with Amazon, Rackspace and other cloud providers, on price, VMware is not a good option. Perhaps because it is being used by Amazon, Xen seems to be the most popular hypervisor for Infrastructure clouds among the service providers

3) Integration with Billing and Provisioning Apps

… most hosting companies and MSPs have billing and user management approaches that they have built-up over the years. Every one of the companies I’ve spoken with expect their cloud solution to plug into these existing systems.

4) Image-based pricing to support both Windows and Linux

Most service providers I talk to expect Linux to make up the majority of the images they run int he cloud, but they still need to make sure the cloud will support Windows, and all of the associated technology necessary to manage licenses.

5) Simplicity of administration by end0users

Plenty of end-users will leverage a Clouds API to automatically provision and manage virtual machines, but that doesn’t change the need for a simple UI. Most hosting companies have a huge number of end-users who are used to working with control panels, and an Infrastructure cloud needs to make life easy for these end-users.

6) Reliability

Over the next few years, many of the large providers of dedicated servers will be offering their customers the option to transition to virtual machines running on a computing cloud. For this to be successful, VMs need to offer better reliability than dedicated machines at a lower cost.

7) Turn-key solution

… service providers today can implement a completely integrated cloud stack on commodity hardware, and receive ongoing maintenance and upgrades over the years. Equally important, service providers can license software on a consumption basis, so upfront investment is negligible.

Incidentally, Mr. VMOps Product Manager, you may wish to provide just 3 more requirements to make this a Top 10 requirements list.

Written by paule1s

December 10, 2009 at 6:58 pm

Cloud storage predictions for 2010

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Detailed post by Sajai Krishnan, CEO, ParaScale is on David Marshall’s VMBlog. The key ideas are summarized below:

The advent of cloud computing has given rise to several cloud storage vendors.

1) The cloud starts to get described

Vendors will begin to describe concrete features and benefits of their product offerings

2) Commodity hardware starts to displace proprietary storage

While all storage vendors claim to use commodity hardware, in reality they are all essentially closed solutions qualified on two or three commodity boxes. Customers are locked into stovepipes with little ability to truly benefit from Moore’s law by selecting from the thousands of commodity servers available at any given point and at multiple points of purchase.

3) Server Virtualization will drive Private Cloud Storage adoption in the Enterprises

With server virtualization, organizations are free to take advantage of low-cost commodity hardware and aren’t tied to proprietary linkage of the OS and the hardware platform. The weak link today is the storage infrastructure behind virtualized servers.

4) A storage middle tier will emerge

The strategic importance of a low-cost, self-managing, petabyte scale tier that provides a platform for analysis and integrated applications emerges in organizations with large stores of file data. These organizations that are investing heavily in new tier1 storage and moving aged data to archive will experiment with a middle tier that leverages low cost commodity hardware and provides read/write access. This middle tier will provide opportunity for administrators to automate storage management and optimize for performance and cost, but at a much lower expense. This middle tier will also support large scale analysis while eliminating related data migration and administrative tasks. The emerging middle tier will also provide an integration layer with service provider cloud offerings. The similar architectures enable "cloud bursting," the seamless ability for service providers to offer spillover capacity and compute to enterprises.

5) Opex, not Capex will emerge as the most important criteria driving storage purchases

Maintenance costs on existing gear will be under heavy review with the emergence of commodity-based hardware storage options.

Written by paule1s

December 10, 2009 at 5:50 pm

How credible is EC2’s competition?

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Amazon’s Elastic Computing Cloud (ec2) is offering over 1500 AMI’s (virtual appliances). It’s recent foray into Europe highlights its aggressive pursuit of a land grab strategy. So, what has its competition in the US been up to? Every major web hosting vendor has announced a cloud initiative:

Amazon’s ec2 is nearly three years old now (Mar 2006) and competition has started appearing on the horizon just over the past year. If you look at the timescale of announcements,

  • Rackspace’s Mosso is just over a year old (Feb 2008),
  • Terremark’s cloud is nine months old (June 2008),
  • AT&T’s cloud is seven months old (Aug 2008),
  • IBM’s AMI launch on ec2 and Savvis’ cloud is three weeks old (Feb 2009).

Since ec2 was first to market, the Rackspace, AT&T and Savvis cloud offerings have a “me too” feel to them. However, unlike other vendors, Rackspace has published pricing on the Web and it appears to be very competitive with ec2. 

Unlike Amazon, Savvis and AT&T are going the buy versus build route to get fast time to market. They are initially launching their service using VMWare technology put together using Professional Services instead of following Amazon’s approach of building a proprietary infrastructure using Open Source software as its foundation. In fact, this may be the preferred route amongst the upper echelons of cloud service providers. There is optimism that providing cloud services is a growth business. I am noticing startups like Enomaly (“Build your own private elastic cloud”) and VMOps (“launch ec2 today”, aka public cloud) offering cloud infrastrcture products.

In conclusion, credible competition is emerging and there are real alternatives to ec2 available today. However, given the state of the economy, I think the market will begin to form by 2010 and should reach critical mass by 2011-2012.

VMWorld 2009 Synopsis of VMWare Product Announcements

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This synopsis is based on the blog posts of Alessandro Perilli  for Day 1 and Day 2 of VMWorld 2009

VMWare is pursuing three major initiatives:

  • Virtual Data Center OS (VDC-OS)
  • vCloud (private and public clouds along with federation across them)
  • vClient (for a desktop as a Service)

VIrtual Data Center

vSphere is the official name for the new Virtual Datacenter (OS) platform, which includes:

  • vCompute: hardware assisted virtualization and extended live migration compatibility
  • vStorage : for storage management and replication
  • vNetwork: for network management, vSphere 4.0 distributed switch and the Cisco Nexus 1000V
  • Security : VMsafe API for firewalls, anti-virus, intrusion detection/prevention and compliance, vShield Zones – the firewall virtual appliance (Blue Lane technologies)
  • Availability : for data protection and clustering
  • Scalability : for dynamic resource sizing

(As an aside, clearly someone was awake and realized that most customers will demand real Security, real Availability, real Scalability and in the midst of the prevailing vNaming zeal, paused before rushing to trademark vSecurity, vAvailability, vScalability) 😉

I am glad to see that VMWare is responding to customer feedback- vSphere ESX4 supports 8 virtual CPU’s and 256GB vRAM. This will offer databases a virtual environment which is very close to production physical hardware and enable them to run SQL applications efficiently within virtual machines

vCenter Suite is the official name for the new VirtualCenter management tools platform, which supports :

Provisioning (including thin provisioning), Configuration, Capacity Planning,  Routine Operations, Performance Measurement, Availability, Self Service Portal, Service Catalogue, Billing / Chargeback

vCenter Server for Linux (Beta) is available as a virtual appliance – this is another shining example of listening to customer feedback.

The following modules have been announced for the vCenter Server :

vCenter Server Heartbeat, a hot-standby technology OEM’d from Neverfail Group

vCenter Server Linked Mode, a new technology that allows the same object inventory to be shared across tens and hundreds of vCenter hosts. It incorporates a  basic and advanced Search

Host Profiles feature, which verifies and enforces the compliance of new ESX hosts configuration as soon as they are included in the vCenter inventory

vCloud

vCloud encompasses  an architecture, tools (vCenter Suite and vSphere) and API’s

to provide management and federation built on open industry standards so that the corporate private cloud can seamlessly integrate with external clouds out there.

vCenter Suite and vSphere are designed not to distinguish between internals and externals cloud infrastructures.

VM migration within the vCloud

A customer using vSphere 4.0 can install the vCloud plug-in for vCenter, log on the cloud service provider he has a contract with and simply drag his production virtual machine inside the cloud infrastructure that appears within the vCenter GUI. The VM will be automatically migrated inside the cloud without further intervention.

However, it is interesting to note that VMWare does not support a similar capability to perform a live migration between private or public data centers using VMotion yet.

vClient

VMWare has announced a partnership with Intel deliver the VMware Client Virtualization Platform. which utilizes Intel Core2 and Centrino 2 processors with Intel vPro technology. It will enable users to run virtualized client environments on desktop or notebook PCs, and work online or offline while IT administrators manage these environments securely from a central location.

The vClient technologies to be delivered in 2009 will include enhancements for thin clients management (HD video, Flash, 3D graphics) and the client hypervisor. VMware View will manage VDI thin clients and client hypervisor instances on corporate desktops and laptops.

In addition to managing VDI thin clients,

VMWare intends to centrally manage any kind of corporate client, including LAN and WAN clients, thick and thin clients. VMware is developing with Teradici the PC over IP (PCoIP) protocol. PCoIP is going to leverage the hardware acceleration that a local client on a LAN or a WAN can provide.

Mobile Virtualization

VMWare demonstrated a mobile hypervisor

The VMware hypervisor is running inside a Nokia N800 device, and boots a Windows CE 6.0 virtual machine side by side with a Google Android virtual machine. Each VM takes less than 40MBs . The touchscreen capabilities of the N800, leveraged by Android, are still there.

Written by paule1s

February 25, 2009 at 11:46 pm

Oracle releases virtual appliances (AMI’s) on Amazon’s EC2

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Oracle Corporation has delivered a set of free Amazon Machine Images (AMIs), to make it easy for customers to get started deploying Oracle solutions on Amazon EC2. The following appliances are built on Oracle Enterprise Linux Release 5 Update 2 as the base OS:

Oracle Secure Backup

For on-premise Oracle installations, AWS offers a dependable and secure off-site backup location through the Cloud Backup module, which is a part of Oracle Secure Backup – a tape backup management solution. It provides customers the flexibility to back up data to either tape or the Cloud.

Licensing

Oracle customers can now license Oracle Database 11g, Oracle Fusion Middleware, and Oracle Enterprise Manager to run in the AWS cloud computing environment. Oracle customers can also use their existing software licenses on Amazon EC2 with no additional license fees.

Written by paule1s

February 17, 2009 at 4:15 am

How To Build Virtual Appliances

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 Ubuntu JeOS

VMWare Studio

Parallels

rPath rBuilder

Rightscale

RightImages provide ready-to-go base operating systems with core cloud software.

ServerTemplates also allow you to designate any number of scripts that you want to run at boot time, upon demand, or when an event is triggered.

RightScripts allow you to specify packages that you want to install before a script is executed and even allow you to upload and attach files directly to scripts.

Amazon Machine Image (AMI)

Written by paule1s

February 16, 2009 at 8:46 am

IBM releases virtual appliances (AMI’s) on Amazon’s EC2

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IBM has begun offering IBM DB2, IBM Informix, IBM WebSphere sMash, IBM Lotus Web Content Management, and IBM WebSphere Portal Server AMI‘s on Amazon.com’s EC2.

IBM is providing several “Development” AMIs at no additional fee beyond Amazon EC2 charges for developers building commercial IBM-based applications.

AWS will also roll out pay-as-you-go pricing for the “Production” Amazon EC2 running IBM service, enabling you to purchase these services by the hour.

The groundbreaking development is that IBM has rationalized their licensing so the customers can use their existing licenses for virtual appliances

For customers that already have existing IBM licenses, you are now eligible to bring them to Amazon EC2 starting today. IBM has created a Processor Value Unit (PVU) conversion table that makes it easy to determine how your existing licenses apply to the various EC2 instance types.

Update : An interesting analysis of this announcement at CIO.com

Written by paule1s

February 12, 2009 at 8:36 am