Amazon/ Cloud Customers: “Trust, but verify”

While Amazon continues to recover from their Cloud outage, it seems that some in the industry are throwing some FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt) their way.  After all, Amazon has been on an amazing run within the Cloud business as they continue to build-out new datacenter regions while continuing to reduce prices to their customers.

Based on the many articles written on Amazon I have the following observations.

  • Confusion rains supreme within the world of Cloud computing
  • It’s time to stop pontificating and start solving problems
  • Cloud computing isn’t simple
  • Putting Cloud in front of every product’s name isn’t helpful
  • Availability zones are misunderstood
  • Cloud does not detract from personal responsibility
  • We need more information / facts
  • Those who think this outage proves Cloud computing isn’t ready for prime time are missing the boat

While Amazon has the ultimate responsibility for this outage, why didn’t their customers have a contingency play for this scenario?  Did everyone simply think Amazon could never go down?  Haven’t we learnt anything from past outages of Google, Microsoft, and others?

Earlier this year I wrote a blog post entitled “When the Cloud Goes Down” detailing an experience I had with a provider.  The black box mentality of the Cloud needs to be replaced with an openness and transparency that does not exist today.  A dashboard showing status and health of the Cloud is simply not enough.  We need the ability to monitor and manage our slice of the Cloud independently of the Cloud provider.

Ultimately, we may have seen the perfect argument for the Hybrid cloud; defined as the ability to provide some resources on a private cloud while accessing additional resources on a public cloud.  In a Hybrid cloud model, customers would have the ability to swing services from the public cloud to their private cloud or to other public cloud providers to avoid outages.  Where is the Amazon VM Export capability?

In the end, I’ll borrow a famous phrase from President Ronald Reagan, “Trust, but verify.”  Your business may depend on it!

Vblocks: The Icing on Cisco UCS’s Cake

While Cisco, EMC, and VMware are excellent communicators, when it comes to Acadia they have missed the mark.  Acadia is the triumvirate’s joint venture that is headed by Michael Capellas of Compaq/HP fame.  Acadia’s tag line is Your Bridge To The Private Cloud and they are the guardians of the mythical Vblock Infrastructure Packages.

Acadia leverages the Vblock reference architecture that has been published by Cisco, EMC, and VMware.  The concept is to transform your datacenter into a giant grid with defined units that provide a set of services, with service levels, to a set of customers.  Vblocks allow for the rapid deployment of pre-integrated and validated solutions.  Currently there are over 300 Enterprise applications that are explicitly supported with over 20 supported operating systems.

Furthermore, the Vblocks have been organized into ‘levels’ that define the size and scope of their deployment.  Vblock 0 is an entry-level configuration designed for small datacenters, Vblock 1 is a mid-sized configuration, and Vblock 2 is a high-end configuration.  What comprises a Vblock and why should I care?

A Vblock is comprised of the following components:

  • Compute – Cisco UCS
  • Network – Cisco Nexus & MDS
  • Storage – EMC CLARiion
  • Hypervisor – VMware vSphere
  • Management – Various (VMware, Cisco, EMC, and 3rd Party ISVs)
  • Applications and Operating Systems

Why you should care is because Vblocks have the potential to fundamentally change how you deploy, test/validate, provide DR, guarantee SLAs, and purchase applications running within your datacenter.  It’s a tall order with an incredibly ambitious agenda, but the rewards are huge.  No longer will organizations have to test/validate configurations or define upgrade and back-up procedures for deployed applications as this has been completed ahead of time courtesy of Acadia and Vblocks.

While Cloud is becoming the most overused term next to CMDB, in this case it’s at least in the ballpark.  For the Cisco UCS architecture, coupled with the EMC’s V-Max, utilizing VMware’s Hypervisor is an awesome platform to provide public, private, or hybrid-cloud applications.  Furthermore, Acadia looks to take advantage of enhancements in Cisco UCS and VMware’s newly announced vDirector product.

The open question remains Acadia’s ability to execute and Cisco, EMC, and VMware’s ability to play nice together.  In the end, Vblocks are the icing on Cisco UCS’s Cake and provide more fire to Cisco’s feud with HP.