Category Archives: Cloud Computing

Programmable Data Centers: Next Big Thing in IT?

As cloud computing gains momentum, more mega data centers are constructed or to be constructed. You can find cool videos on how companies like Google, Microsoft build and run their state-of-the-art data centers.

In these data centers, computers/storage/switches are packed and wired inside containers in factory before being shipped to a data center. After hooking up power, networking, and cooling, a container of servers are ready to go. These advances have

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IT Automation: A Cognitive Perspective

Recently I stumbled at a book Things That Make Us Smart by one of my favorite authors Donald Norman. In the book, he shared many insights on the complex human machine interactions, “arguing for the development of machines that fit our minds, rather than minds that must conform to the machine.” By the way, I highly recommend his another book The Design of Everyday Things.

Because I just blogged about IT automation, I still have that topic on my mind. So when I read the book, I did quite a lot of reflective thinking around IT automation. In general, I feel

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Tech Talk: Secure Multi Tenancy In the Cloud

This is by Boris Strongin, VP Engineering and Co-founder, Hytrust Inc at our first community meetup on May 18. He reviews new security, auditing, and compliance challenges coming with cloud multi-tenancy, and approaches to address them.

Check out these slides for his insights:

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Tech Talk: Massive VM Provisioning in the Cloud

This is the tech talk by Giridhar Padmanabh(@girip26), who is now a Sr. Manager at Cisco. He joined Cisco not long ago with the newScale acquisition. This tech talk draws on his 7 years of experience at newScale building industry leading software for delivering private cloud as a service.

Check out the slides below:

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IT Automation, What Does It Mean To You?

Weeks ago I had a great conversation with Vanessa Alvarez (@VanessaAlvarez1) who is an analyst with Forrest Research. Among other topics, we discussed datacenter automation because we’re both interested in it. After Vanessa tweeted about her automation dream, several follow-up tweets came up.

In general, I think automation is a vague word in IT world, and it mostly means different things to different people. This is especially true when we talk about automation together with integration. This article tries to define automation from my understanding and perspective. Please feel free to share your thoughts in comments.

From high level, automation is the opposite to

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It’s today!

After preparing the event for almost two months, we are finally ready. If you join us onsite, here is direction to our venue. We have free food/drinks, and many books/gifts waiting for you, thanks to our sponsors and 12 volunteers. :-)

If you join us online, we have a great news for you. Instead of WebEx, we will have a live broadcasting. Here is the URL: http://bit.ly/osvimeetup, courtesy of @lkilpatrick. You can enter as a Guest on 7PM (Pacific Time) for tech talks.

Here are the 8 tech talks we pulled together. A bit long but

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Cloud Computing Reversed

I always believe cloud computing is a computing, not the computing of the future. Its elastic and centralized nature allows greater level of sharing that was otherwise impossible within single organizations. It works great for anyone who has dramatic workloads and other cases. But it doesn’t work in all the cases.

Recently a new use case comes to my attention. It actually requires opposite way to cloud computing. You may have known recent developments in bioinformatics. With human genes are sequenced and analyzed, we can

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Mark Your Calendar For Our First Community Event

After I touted the idea to have a meetup last week, I got quite positive feedbacks from the community. More importantly, I secured sponsorship from my employer VMware so that we can have the event at VMware headquarter. Due to a little time conflict, we will have it on May 18, instead of May 25 as I planned before. It’s still a Wednesday and food/drinks will be served with no charge.

This event was designed for professionals like developers, system administrators. Even if you are not but interested in virtualization and cloud computing in general, you are still very welcome to join us.

The first 100 registers for onsite will have chance to win

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Virtual Machine Roaming in the Cloud

If you have a mobile phone and travel to other areas or countries, you can still use it to make and receive a call. Your phone number does not change. This is called roaming in the wireless telecommunications.

In the cloud environment, your virtual machine can “travel” around as well, maybe from one datacenter to another, from your enterprise to one of your service providers or the other way around, or from one service provider to another.

It’s relatively easy for a virtual machine

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Franchising Business Model for Cloud Computing

In a previous post, I said that cloud service business model is very much like that of office renting business. Just as big companies want to own their major offices, they want to own their major datacenters as well. That explains why private cloud will not only be there forever but also represent a major chuck of overall market in the future.

Cloud Commoditization

Let’s get back to the cloud service business, or so called public cloud. When the cloud technology getting mature, the cloud related services will increasingly become commoditized. This is especially true

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Big Bang: The Story of How A Cloud Is Created

I believe most of us learned at school the theory of big bang which tries to explain the formation of the universe. “According to the Big Bang model, the universe, originally in an extremely hot and dense state that expanded rapidly, has since cooled by expanding to the present diluted state, and continues to expand today.” (source: Wikipedia).

Now how does the theory relate to the cloud computing? More than you can think of. You can use the same theory to create (not just explain) a new cloud. Just like the universe, a cloud is created from almost nothing to a fully running infrastructure over time. Think about most enterprises which do not yet have a cloud today, they will need a big bang to create an enterprise cloud.

Basic Elements of a Cloud

It’s important to understand what you want before taking any action. To operate a cloud,

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Book Review: 6 Musts of Intelligent System Automation

I recently came across a book which I got from LISA conference last November. It was written by Jake Sorofman who is VP, Product/Marketing at rPath. I thought it’s just another typical book from a vendor, therefore I didn’t read it until two weeks ago while sorting my bags. It’s not. After reading it, I found this 75 page booklet pretty easy to read and very insightful.

Here are 6 musts Jake discussed in his book:

  1. Get your platforms under control
  2. Get your applications under control
  3. Version control everything
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Cloud Architecture Patterns: VM Template

Intent

Standardize new virtual machine provisioning with templates

Category:

Creational pattern

Problem

It’s been a pain to create new virtual machines with the right software installed and configured properly. You can always use tools like KickStart to automatically install the operating system and then install other software as needed. But configuring such an environment is not trivial, and it takes a long time from start to finish.

With the rise of virtualization, more virtual machines are provisioned (and decommissioned) than ever before. Installing each new virtual machine from scratch is not the ideal solution.

Solution

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Quickest Way to Support SaaS Cloud for ISVs

One challenge almost every ISV faces today is how to quickly get “cloudy” with least investment. From business side, SaaS is a new model for most ISVs, meaning it’s still hard to project revenue. Even worse, the SaaS service may cut into the license revenue of existing product. Technically, it may require a full re-design and re-implementation of product  for maximum multi-tenancy. Putting together, it’s a big challenge for decision makers.

But it doesn’t have to be difficult with a right strategy. This post explains how to support SaaS without re-designing existing applications, which means a big saving for the ISVs.

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Cloud Architecture Patterns: Cloud Broker

Intent

Provide a single point of contact and management for multiple cloud service providers and maximize the benefits of leveraging multiple external clouds.

Category

Structural

Motivation

When you are buying and selling stocks or other securities, you hire a broker to execute the trade on your behalf. One reason for that is convenience. You don’t need to take care of the details of placing orders and working with multiple stock exchanges, and whatever else is required to trade securities.

How about working with multiple cloud service providers? For sure, you can go online to any cloud provider as long as you have your credit card ready. But is the service provider the best fit for your requirements? Do you have a backup plan if you are not satisfied with your service provider? Can you easily switch among your service providers to minimize cost or maximize flexibility? If you are not sure, you may then need something like a cloud broker.

Solution

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Top 5 Predictions on Cloud Computing for 2011

While 2011 is coming soon, many technologists and medias are busy with predictions for 2011. I got an email from the chief of Cloud Computing Journal Jeremy Geelan (@jg21) for my predictions. Here are my thoughts on the cloud computing for 2011 and beyond:

  1. The focus of cloud computing will gradually shift from IaaS to PaaS which becomes key differentiator in competition. Developer enablement becomes more important than ever in ecosystem evangelism, full software lifecycle integration, IDE support, API and framework, and etc.
  2. Many more mergers and acquisitions (M&As) will take place in cloud space for companies to build stronger cloud portfolio. For big players, it should include dual vertically complete stacks both as services and products. Whoever gets there first will gain enormous advantages over its competitors.
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Cloud Architecture Patterns: Service VM

Intent

Provide an easy way to provision new infrastructure and application services for a computing cloud

Category

Behavioral

Problem

To run a large-scale computing infrastructure, you will need many different types of services, including compute, storage, and networking, among others. After virtualization has successfully detached compute from the physical hardware, it’s very easy to provision and scale compute. But compute requires storage and networking which are lagging behind. To maximize the benefits of virtualization and cloud computing, it’s natural to push the storage and networking in the same direction.

Looking beyond the infrastructure to consider applications, we need various types of services such as database, directory, messaging, and more. I’ve covered the App VM pattern that allows using IaaS for PaaS in a previous blog. While you can pack some of these services into an application VM, the problem is that it scales well but does not follow the aspectual centralization pattern.

Solution

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Cloud Architecture Patterns: VM Pipeline

Intent

Provide a configurable structure for modularized information processing

Category

Structural

Problem

Complicated data processing involves many distinctive and repetitive steps. Each of these steps can be mapped to a software module that is independently developed and assembled for particular cases of data processing.

Given the elastic nature of cloud computing, it’s a perfect platform for data processing. We need a solution that is flexible in two ways:

1.     Modularized components for data processing;

2.     Configurable so that different modules can be re-used easily in various cases.

Solution

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Cloud Architecture Patterns: App VM

Intent

Provide packaged software stack as Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) platform for running applications

Category

Behavioral

As Known As

PaaS VM

Motivation

We all know the three different types of cloud services from Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), PaaS, to Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). If you want to leverage PaaS, you have to choose one of the PaaS service providers like Google or Microsoft. Leveraging an external PaaS has its own benefits.

What if you want to keep your applications running in-house but still enjoy the benefits of PaaS? Today you don’t have much choice. Google, for example, does not sell its App Engine as a product that you can install and run on premise. You have to run it on the Google cloud.

Solution

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What You Can Learn from IBM Research on Designing Private Cloud

IBM Researcher Kyung Ryu presented a private cloud RC2 at LISA 2010 conference. As a typical IBM project, the presentation has 20+ co-authors. The following is based on my notes taken from the session, therefore may contain my misunderstandings.

Having an internal cloud is not a big deal these days. You can find several products from the market. What is truly unique and challenging for RC2 is that it supports very different virtualization platforms from X86 based hypervisors on X-series servers, to IBM PowerVM on P-series, to the mainframe based native virtualization on Z-series. Therefore RC2 is really a hybrid private cloud.

The talk focused on system architecture with several diagrams. I cannot reproduce these diagrams but would list the key components of the system:

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