IaaS and SaaS lead to PaaS

13 Feb

Most people currently portray the Public Clouds as a stack consisting of IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS.  Worse still, they try to define Private Clouds in the same way. In a discussion I had with Christofer Hoff@Beaker he accurately pointed out that this isn’t entirely the case, that they are all really Integrations.  This blog post was about three sentences in when a discussion broke out on Twitter regarding IaaS and ultimately where IaaS and SaaS converge – hint: PaaS.

IaaS and SaaS lead to PaaS

IaaS is becoming established by many Public Cloud providers by providing Virtual Machines, Block Based and File Based Storage, Databases and Key Value Stores, and several other core capabilities. As these capabilities become more sophisticated and their complexity increases, the drive to abstract and re-simplify pushes IaaS toward PaaS. IaaS is beginning to also take root in Private Clouds (Enterprises) where there is a motivation for more automation and self-service in an attempt to drive more efficiency. What Private Cloud providers (I’m thinking of IT) will find is that they are unable to achieve the same levels of efficiency that Public Clouds can. The difference between Public Cloud IaaS and Private Cloud IaaS efficiency isn’t entirely based on scale as you might initially think. The disparity is also driven by the storage philosophies that they follow or rather the difference.

Public Cloud IaaS is driven by very cheap and very scalable storage using software based redundancy with many replicas of data (think multiple copies on JBOD). Private Cloud IaaS in contrast is driven by highly available, fault tolerant, hardware redundant disk arrays (think SANs). This difference in storage methodology translates into a difference in Platform Methodology, Applications Methodology, and Operations Methodologies. Data is king and the assumptions that are made around how data is persisted and retrieved drives decisions about platforms, applications, and operations.

When Private Clouds embrace some of the newer approaches in storage, they will also embrace change in their Platform, this is where PaaS enters the picture in a big way. PaaS will also be pushed by applications developers because of the increases in productivity and efficiency that it brings to Enterprise Development Organizations. The changes to the Enterprise Development Orgs mean changes to Application Design Methodologies. These changes will drive IT to make changes as well because previous Operations Methodologies will no longer work (I’m looking at you traditional ITILv3). There will also be deep security implications to all of these changes, however this will neither make security better or worse, just applied differently than it is presently.

We’ve covered the IaaS angle and how it pushes toward a PaaS centric world, but what about SaaS? I find it interesting that SaaS has been with us for 10 years now, yet many people are just realizing its value. The defacto example of SaaS is Salesforce.com. Virtually every article that talks broadly about SaaS mentions them, mainly because almost everyone has heard of Salesforce and has probably interacted with it at some point in their career. Public Cloud SaaS has several issues that it struggles with, two of which are the need to maintain a shared infrastructure in order to keep costs low but still keep customer data separate. The second issue being the need allow customers to customize the solution to meet their needs (this could be through integrations, add-ons, or other applications). Making this work if you are simply delivering pure software as a service is difficult if not impossible. This has led Salesforce and other providers to slowly transform into more of a Platform that offers Software and less of a traditional or pure Software as a Service solution.

Public SaaS Cloud moves toward PaaS because of customer demands for isolation and customization, but what about Private SaaS Clouds? Private SaaS Clouds are more about the delivery and management of the software by IT. This pattern of an Enterprise being its own provider or contracting to a Hosting Provider for these services will still drive them to want capabilities that are not out of the box. This drive will lead them down the PaaS path as well.

PaaS no matter what it ends up looking like is much closer to what the end state looks like than IaaS or SaaS.

Service Energy – Complimenting Data Gravity

2 Feb

It has been a while since I posted anything referring to Data Gravity.  While Data Gravity is interesting and can explain many motivations of Cloud Companies and their Data Services, there are other influential forces at work.
Service Energy

What am I referring to as a Service in this case?  Any code or logic that has been deployed by a provider to expose a resource.

Examples include:

  • APIs
  • Message Queues and Buses
  • Automation, Scripting, and Provisioning Interfaces
  • Web Services
  • Many more…

When resources are externalized, this is what enhances the value of Data and helps increase Data Mass and Data Gravity. As a Service is used more frequently, the amount of energy it is emitting increases in our analogy.  The emitted energy has effects just as it would in Physics.  Service Energy has the ability to assist in Escape Velocity as well as increase Data Gravity, all depending on what the Service Energy is doing.
Service Energy shows motivations in Clouds for specific behaviors such as:

Why Salesforce acquired Heroku – (Heroku is indeed a Ruby PaaS, but it was beginning to bring in SERVICES from outside which increased its Service Energy)  Salesforce needs this in the Ecosystem, just like it needed to create Database.com to help increase it’s Data Mass and therefore it’s Data Gravity.

Why Amazon created SQS and SES (These are services that encourage additional consumption of Compute but more so amplifies the amount of data (Data Mass)

It should be noted in the picture above that the Data is made accessible through a service which is why it has Service Energy around it, which should be distinguished from Data Gravity. Remember, Service Energy does NOT attract, but can amplify.

Service Energy also can be used for Escape Velocity.  By properly architecting applications and even Service Oriented Platforms, the Data Mass can be spread across many providers (and even sources inside of those providers).  This provides looser coupling between the App and a specific Cloud, which gives more flexibility.  The trade-off is that this design is more prone to service interruptions, latency, and bandwidth constraints.

There is much more to be said about Service Energy in the future including exploring other effects it has with more IaaS centric solutions.

The Future of PaaS in the Enterprise – The Service Oriented Platform

26 Jan

Anyone who followed Cloud Computing last year watched several changes occur throughout the space.  These changes were happening in the view of what Public, Private, and Hybrid Clouds were defined as, the interest in IaaS solutions in the Enterprise and within Service Providers, and finally a renewed interest in the potential of PaaS.

Currently Public PaaS solutions are focused on core compute functionality and persistent services all of which are being backed by some mix of IaaS (with or without Virtualization, more with than without though).  Why are so many Public PaaS focused on their IaaS underpinnings?  Two reasons come to mind, IaaS is easier for customers and IT to understand and yet generic enough to have the broadest appeal.  This is important in the continuing evolution of the Cloud market as a whole, we need the widest adoption possible early on for any Cloud Platforms to take off.

Now, focusing in on the set of events around PaaS in the past year brings us to the rumors that surrounded EngineYard’s acquisition by VMware (which never happened and now we see that Amazon is working with them on a Ruby on Rails Elastic Beanstalk), Heroku was acquired by Salesforce.com, VMware announced the Open PaaS solution, and Microsoft will fight with anyone who calls Azure anything but a PaaS.  All of this Public facing PaaS news sounds great, but I’m sure you are thinking how does this translate to Enterprise?

I wondered this same thing and began to try to figure out just where it all leads.

What is the Future of Enterprise PaaS?

Public Cloud Services are always different from Private Cloud Services, many people think that Hybrid is something easy but miss the nuances involved with implementing Hybrid Clouds.  I’m not saying that achieving a Hybrid model is impossible, just that there are many hurdles and few have working solutions that seem to address most or all of them.

PaaS in an Enterprise will operate as a Service Oriented Platform.  That sounds like a silky smooth sentence doesn’t it?  But there is substance behind the statement.  Today the most advanced Public PaaS platforms are focusing on generic, on-demand, multi-tenant, infrastructure components, and other core capabilities.  What Enterprises will need for PaaS will be this plus many other services including specialized components such as vertical specific ERP and CRM solutions exposed as services, legacy solutions with service bridges, Big Data service connectors, and many more.  As these capabilities get built and each former “Silo” gets exposed as a service a Platform will emerge.

About the Service Oriented Platform:

Something to understand is that each business is different, it was formed differently and while it operates most likely in a similar fashion to other businesses in that market, it is still different.  This difference becomes even more pronounced when the needs are pushed to IT (Operations and Development).  This would be the equivalent to the Butterfly Effect in IT.

Why does the Butterfly Effect matter for an Enterprise Service Oriented Platform?

Because it means that each Enterprise Service Oriented Platform will be DIFFERENT than all others (maybe only marginally, but still different).  Each service exposed to the ESOP will be a new capability that Devs can leverage as they put together Apps on top of the Enterprise PaaS.

Something that may be important to realize is that IT Operations may view the solution as an ESOP while Devs may view it as an Enterprise PaaS.  I think both of these are actually correct and will talk about the same thing, it is just how it is being viewed and by who, but it is still the same thing.

Hybrid Clouds will be exposed as another service capability:

Hybrid Clouds will be Public Cloud services that are exposed either directly or indirectly to the ESOP.  The ESOP will have the control, authentication, metering, and likely the QoS.  The EPaaS will have the allowed/exposed services and resources from the Public Cloud.  This will be at a different level than simply pushing and pulling VMs, Virtual Hardisks, or Creating VPNs.

I’m interested in people’s thoughts and comments:

Comment on this Post or Follow Me on Twitter – @mccrory

Current PaaS Patterns – Types of PaaS

23 Jan

There are many definititions of PaaS that I have run across, the most succinct of which is “A Service where Code is uploaded and executed”.  While succinct, this leaves a lot of “wiggle room” for what PaaS really is.  The secret is PaaS isn’t one thing, it is a broad array of things that can be used and mixed together.  What model ore TYPE of PaaS determines what capabilities and limitations the platform will have.

The Type 1 PaaS – Upload Your Environment

Type 1 PaaS Examples

This style of PaaS is an option from several different providers including Amazon EC2 and Microsoft Azure with the VM Role.  By imaging and then uploading an environment packaged as a VM, you are allowed to run legacy systems in Cloud environments

The Type 2 PaaS – Upload Your Compiled Application

Type 2 PaaS Examples

This PaaS is where an environment is already provided and you are uploading and executing an Application that was written/is supported by that PaaS environment. This could be a preconfigured Amazon EC2 VM, a RackSpace Cloud VM, Microsoft Azure Role, or any of the other dozens of Cloud providers.

The Type 3 PaaS – Upload Your Packaged Application

Type 3 PaaS Examples

PaaS here is presented as a container that is more restricted than a traditional environment and is more stringent on code.  This could be a Java WAR file for example that leverages a container such as Apache Tomcat, Amazon’s Elastic Beanstalk is a good example of this.  The solution could also just be a custom JVM such as the one that Google App Engine uses (where your App is a JAR).  Why is this different than a Type 2 PaaS?  It is a container in an environment, not just an OS environment like Linux or Windows.

The Type 4 PaaS – Upload Your Code

Type 4 PaaS Examples

This type of PaaS allows source code to be uploaded where the compilation happens in the PaaS itself.  By accepting the code as the uploaded payload a greater level of insight as to what the resource requirements are of the code can be gotten, which offers more versatility from the platform.  An example would be VMware’s Open PaaS (which is in Alpha currently).  Open PaaS accepts many different code types, looks at what the requirements are and adjusts the environment based on what the needs of the code are.  Other examples include Heroku and Engine Yard, both do Ruby on Rails. When the Ruby on Rails code is uploaded for example, then a MySQL server instance is created to support the application amongst other things that happen.  Nearly everything that is needed is allocated automatically on demand.

The Type 5 PaaS – Upload App/Platform Specific Code

Type 5 PaaS Example

PaaS here would only allow specific code which is designed to work as logic or an extension of the Platform is allowed.  While this is a highly restrictive form of PaaS, it can also be powerful and is a natural move for a Software as a Service provider looking to allow cutsomization.  Salesforce.com is a great example with their App Logic using Apex Code.  Apex Code allows a level of customization and extension to the Salesforce solution using their own blended Java/C# like syntax.

The future of PaaS is in leveraging many of these models to best meet design decisions and customer needs.  The biggest question will be what happens in the future when Enterprises want to adopt and adapt PaaS in their Data Centers.  While the economies of scale will always be with Public Cloud PaaS providers, there are benefits to having PaaS implementations inside the Enterprise.

In my next post I will talk about where PaaS could go.

Hyper9 is acquired by SolarWinds

19 Jan

The company I founded a few years ago has been acquired by SolarWinds Inc.  I’m pleased with the outcome and proud of all of those involved in the hard work it has taken to get here.

Details can be found here

CLASH – CLoud Admin SHell

11 Jan

It has been several weeks since I have posted to this blog.  I would blame this on the holidays, but that would be inaccurate as it has been something far more insidious!

What is CLASH?
CLASH is a universal shell.  What is a universal shell?  First, by universal I mean that it is intended to run on all major desktop operating system platforms including:
Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7

Mac OSX Leopard, Mac OSX Snow Leopard
Ubuntu Linux, and most other flavors of Linux
——————————–
Now the shell portion is a bit different.  Since this is a CLoud Admin SHell, Cloud is an important part of idea.  In this initial prototype I went through many experiments in learning the nuances of JRuby <follow on post link here>, but have been able to get a reasonable working version of VIJava (the interface I’m using to get JRuby to work with VMware vCenter/vSphere).

Great, so what can I do with this prototype?

-You can try it out on any of the platforms listed above!
-If you are on a Windows System, you can either edit the clash.bat file and put in your server’s IP or name along with a username and password to connect
-If you are on Mac or Linux, you can simply type ./clash –Server 127.0.0.1 –Username administrator –Password password to connect 

-The following are the working commands:
> Get-VM SomeVMName
Above gets the VM object and prints out the Guest Operating System type

> $result
This command prints the name of the VM object
> $result $
This displays the methods available to the VM object
> $result $.get
This shows only the methods with “get” in them
> $result $.set
This shows only the methods with “set” in them
> $result $.find something
This shows only them methods that contain “something” in them
> $result method
This will execute the method against the object (i.e. $result getName will display the name property of the VM object from Get-VM)
> disconnect
This will cleanly disconnect from the vCenter / vSphere server
> Start-VM SomeVMName
This command is flakey at the moment, this will be fixed when the next prototype is released in a few weeks
> Stop-VM SomeVMName
This is in the same state as Start-VM
> Get-VM SomeVMName > $result getName
This allows a limited form of piping in clash by using the > as an operator (you must have whitespace on both sides of the > symbol.

Where is this headed?
After many experiments, it will be broken out into a flexible system that allows many different options and cool capabilities against not only vCenter and vSphere, but most Cloud platforms as well.  Currently planned platforms include:
-Amazon EC2 and S3
-Rackspace
-(Looking for the next provider for this list)

Other interfaces to the shell (for both input and output) will include a Web interface, I’m looking for thoughts on other types of interfaces desired.

How will this work?
Below is my latest planned diagram for how I hope/think things should work:

Where can I get the Prototype?
You can get the code from GitHub here
You can download the entire package here

Installation Directions (AGAIN, this is a PROTOTYPE, it does NOT follow best practices)
1.) Make sure that you have Java 1.5 or Above Installed
Download Java from Here

2.) Install JRuby 1.5.6
Download JRuby from Here
3.) Follow the JRuby Setup Instructions Here
4.) Download the CLASH prototype/alpha-1 from GitHub (See Above Links)
Unzip/Tar it to c:\clash or /clash directory in ROOT
5.) Start clash by going to c:\clash\bin\ or /clash/bin
On Windows edit clash.bat to contain the correct IP Address, Username, and Password
then run clash.bat
On Mac and Linux type ./clash –Server 127.0.0.1 –Username administrator –Password password
Make sure to select the IP or Name of a valid vCenter / vSphere Server
6.) Play with clash
A Request:
Please supply feedback to me through comments to this post or communicate directly with me through Twitter – my handle is @mccrory
I’m looking for ideas/things that you would like to see clash do, better commands, capabilities, features, etc.

Cloud Escape Velocity – Switching Cloud Providers

18 Dec

The term Escape Velocity is the speed needed to “break free” from a gravitational field without further propulsion according to Wikipedia.org.  Data Gravity as explained in THIS previous post is what attracts and builds more Data, Applications, and Services on Clouds.  Data Gravity also is what creates a high level of Escape Velocity to move to another Cloud.

Some background on why this post is timely:

A few days ago Amazon announced a new AWS service for importing VMware disk images (VMDKs) into EC2.  VMware already offered a method for converting EC2 instances through their Converter tool into Workstation VMs and with a 2nd pass conversion into ESX VMs.  While all of this sounds wonderful and it does have value, it brings to light an entirely different issue.  Only Stateful / Fully encapsulated applications can be moved around in this way.

Examples of sources of Cloud Gravity (App, Service, and Data Gravity Combined) on your specific Application.

If someone selects a Cloud provider and writes an application leveraging anything more than a handful of VMs, Data Gravity will make it virtually impossible to move to a new/different Cloud provider.  Don’t believe it?

See the Diagrams Below:

Here is a diagram of an app that has a Low Escape Velocity because of Lower Cloud Gravity:

Cloud Escape Velocity with Low Gravity

Below is a diagram of an app that has a High Escape Velocity because of High Cloud Gravity:

Cloud Escape Velocity with High Gravity

Some potential dependencies include:

Database with a specific API

Web Worker which serves as a web interface and uses internal Authentication (Your user logins are here!)

Application code that uses the Database and Web Workers specific APIs and/or depends on Low Latency and High Throughput access to them.

Here are a few additional things to think about:

– The longer (more time) an Application stays in a specific Cloud the more difficult it is to move.  Why?  Data Gravity increases due to more Mass (data being stored).  Imagine accumulating 100’s of GBs of Data, how easy will it be to shuffle/transfer that much data around?

– The more provider APIs and Services that you depend on the harder it is to move.  Why?  Because there are only two paths that can be taken in a move.  The first is to find another provider that has the exact same set of APIs and Services (this will limit your choices).  The second is to change or rewrite your application to take advantage of the new Cloud provider’s APIs and/or Services.

– Different providers have different charges for the consumption of the same resources.  Your current provider gives free usage of queues for applications. The provider you are looking to go to charges after the first X number of messages on the queue.  Now what do you do?  You will either pay more when you move, rewrite your application to fit the new provider’s model, or pick another provider that has free queue usage.

– Different QoS guarantees from Cloud provider to Cloud provider.  Some Cloud providers offer SLAs with reimbursements for outages, others only offer best effort.  Some providers offer tiered Services, others only offer a single tier.  What happens if you want to move and you can’t get the minimum level of QoS that you need?

This is NOT an attempt to dissuade anyone from using Public Clouds (they are incredibly valuable and powerful), but I would like more people to go in eyes wide open.