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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

Top 10 referrers for Q1 2009

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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.

Top 12 referrers over the past 3 months

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How to convert a VMWare VMDK to a Microsoft, Xen VHD?

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Written by paule1s

December 14, 2008 at 3:53 pm

A Brief Primer on Virtualization

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I went through this process of discovery over the past three weeks and felt I should share my learning with you.

What is virtualization?

Virtualization is the technology that allows you to run several different OS’es, each of which is independently running on a dedicated (virtual) machine, concurrently on the same physical machine.

Wikipedia describes different types of virtualization

How is virtualization realized?

A hypervisor is the software layer that virtualizes the underlying host OS and hardware  to allow multiple operating systems to run concurrently on the same physical machine.  You can read about the hypervisor in depth here.

Which are the primary virtualization technologies in use commercially?

There are principally three arms vendors for virtual machines, VMWare, Microsoft and Xen. Their  technologies differ in subtle but important ways.

VMWare implements full virtualization. The VMWare hypervisor simulates the underlying x86 hardware completely so that Windows and Linux variants designed for the x86 architectcure can run unmodified within individual VMWare virtual machines

Microsoft and Xen implement paravirtualization. The hypervisor exposes a software interface to virtual machines that is similar but not identical to that of the underlying OS/hardware.  The calls supported by this interface are called hypercalls, analogous to the OS syscalls. Paravirtualization simplifies the design and implementation of the hypervisor and virtual machines that run on them can achieve performance closer to non-virtualized hardware. However, the downside is that operating systems must be explicitly ported to run on top of such a hypervisor.

Microsoft’s  Hyper-V hypervisor, introduced in Windows 2008,  supports Windows 2008, 2003, 2000 and SuSe Linux Enterprise Server 10  as guests,

How are these systems architected?



Solution Architecture

Micorosoft Hyper-V:


How do the VM’s differ?

VMware uses the vmdk file format

The set of files necessary for VMWare VM

Microsoft and Xen use the vhd file format.

Written by paule1s

December 13, 2008 at 7:34 pm

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