Category Archives: Information technology

The Paradox of Cloud Computing Adoption – Part II

In Part I of this post, I discussed the overview of Cloud Computing adoption and the importance of the primary factors, scale and scope. What are other considerations that dictate Cloud strategy and have a bearing upon customer adoption? Some of these are listed below.

1. Variability of Workload

Workloads are assumed to be fixed or variable; in reality, they are almost always variable. They can vary at low or high rates, and this variability can be predictable or unpredictable (H&R Block during tax season vs. social media spikes during major events). It is difficult to accommodate a highly variable workload in-house or in a private cloud – the two available options are to either overbuild at a large cost or suffer degraded performance during workload spikes. A public Cloud capitalizes upon the fact that workload spikes between its customers are not correlated; if they were, the public Cloud could be susceptible to similar performance issues as well.

2. Data Intensity

Enterprises have different characteristics in terms of data generation, based primarily upon the nature of their business. Some organizations generate a large amount of data (Social Media, Insurance companies, Pharmaceutical companies, and Manufacturing companies). Others generate relatively lesser amounts of data (early-stage startups, mobile app companies). It is relatively easier to migrate low data intensity applications to Cloud providers, and such migrations are likely to involve lower operational costs as well.

3. Externally generated data vs. internal

Companies also differ by where their data is generated. Social media companies experience externally generated data, whereas Pharmaceutical or Manufacturing companies generate their data in-house via test or manufacturing equipment. It is not easy to migrate these to the Cloud due to the data volumes involved, and if there are Compliance and IP considerations involved (see #5 below).

4. Interoperations between applications, and data movement within the enterprise

Companies could have several standalone applications with relatively limited interaction. For example, Twitter’s Operations, internal email, and financial systems minimally interact with each other, if at all. On the other hand, an insurance company’s Claims applications, Data Warehouse, Marketing applications, and email systems (workflow) are all linked with well-defined data flows. Here it would be a significant task to replace any of these components to a Cloud-based service.

Another hurdle with high interoperability of applications is large scale data movement within the organization. Various functions and locations within an organization access data created by each other; internal network connections are created to implement and optimize these data flows, which is a complex task to accomplish across locations and service providers.

5. Legacy issues and IP considerations

Cloud service providers support most modern protocols, such as SOAP and REST within their PaaS offerings. However, they do not have support for legacy protocols that are in use at enterprises. This constitutes a significant hurdle that cannot be easily overcome. This is not an issue for new companies, but a rather significant issue for established companies that have been in business for many years. Organizations will continue to replace such applications with new services where feasible, but this is a slow process.

6. SLAs and OLAs required by the business

Corporations are increasingly required to provide SLAs and OLAs to their customers for all operational aspects of their business. These flow back to the Business Applications and IT Operations as corresponding SLAs/OLAs. In case an application or a set of applications are migrated to Cloud providers, corresponding SLAs/OLAs need to be established with the Cloud providers. This may or may not be possible based upon options that the provider offers, may be financially prohibitive, or difficult to enforce. Amazon offers a 99.9999% availability for its EC2 infrastructure, yet we have had several outages that violate such an SLA. However, the contract would have been written in the provider’s favor, insulating them from serious financial impact, and usually limited to the amount paid for the service feature that failed. However, the damage to the customer’s reputation and financials is immense.

For example, a provider that offers a 99.9% SLA would remain in compliance with a single 8 hour outage during an entire calendar year. Would EBay or Amazon tolerate this one week before Thanksgiving?

7. Regulatory and Compliance limitations

Regulatory and compliance issues are little understood by most players in the Cloud business; even industry experts can be misled by some of the provider certifications. The reality for companies is that they are responsible to their customers, shareholders, and to regulatory authorities for enforcement of privacy, security, and integrity of their customer data. Cloud provider certifications mean that these providers follow best practices; however, in case customer data is lost or compromised, it is hard to see that the Cloud provider would step up to take financial responsibility. Even worse, smaller providers might simply close their doors, leaving all their customers in an extremely difficult situation.

8. Impact of network costs

Network costs are a major source of expense for organizations in the present situation, representing significant chunks of IT/Telecom budgets for most. The reasons that these are exceedingly high are due to the nature of large capital projects for network capacity, and the small number of providers operating as an effective oligopoly.

With migration to the Cloud, there is an increase in network traffic, and a corresponding increase in costs for companies on multiple accounts.

  • All client access will move data to external providers.
  • Movement of data occurs between multiple applications/providers
  • Data communication to/from in-house legacy applications
  • Movement of internally generated data to external providers

Each of the above items represents data that was being moved within the organization’s Local Area Network (LAN), and will now be routed over the Wide Area Network (WAN) of a telecom provider. LAN costs are relatively very low, and provide a stable and high performance network path, whereas WAN costs are quite high, even at much lower bandwidths. In addition, usage of WANs introduces significant latencies that applications may or may not be able to tolerate. WANs are also more susceptible to failure than LANs as well. This represents a reduction in the reliability of network and application infrastructure.

Let us examine the impact of these factors on a few types of companies. Dark colors below indicate strong impact based on this dimension and lighter colors imply lesser impact due to any given factor.

Cloud Computing - Secondary Factor Impact

 

It is clear that each of these types of companies have distinct profiles based upon the combination of these eight dimensions. Existing companies have operations and IT systems that reflect these profiles, and look for these requirements to be met by Cloud services. In case these requirements are not adequately met, it constitutes a barrier to migration. These profiles are likely to be similar for companies within a particular domain, irrespective of size.

In addition, there are a number of factors that inhibit rapid Cloud adoption by customers. I will explore these, and identify conditions that would speed up this process, and offer some recommendations for Cloud providers in the concluding part of this paper.

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San Francisco VMUG Meeting with Frank Denneman

A new VMUG chapter started up in San Francisco, the city of startups, on June 24, 2014. I happened to attend this meeting, and my thoughts from this meeting are below.

The meeting was organized at the Thirsty Bear brewing company on Howard Street, which is a stone’s throw away from the Moscone Center. This is a great central location, with parking conveniently available at the garage next door. I arrived around 11:30am, the designated start time and made my way to the second floor, where the meeting was to take place. The meeting room itself was an open space, but comfortable and cozy, accommodating 40-50 persons.

I had the opportunity to interact with Chris Seline and Andrew Uplinger, the leaders of the San Francisco chapter, who had organized this meeting. I also spoke with several attendees, including VMware customers, VMware staff, and representatives of PernixData, the sponsor of this meeting. The main attraction was an opportunity to meet with the presenter, Frank Denneman, who is an industry legend.

Attendees started to stream in, and pretty soon the room was buzzing with activity. Andrew and Chris efficiently signed in the attendees, and managed the walk-ins as well. They distributed raffle tickets to each attendee, and provided logistical information. VMUG was raffling a VMUG advantage membership, and PernixData was giving away a GoPro Hero3 camera.

Networking started going on in full force, as attendees interacted with each other and exchanged business cards and stories. They made a beeline for the food and drinks; the food was excellent Spanish fare, which the Thirsty Bear is known for, with many options. Chris Seline took the floor, welcomed the attendees, and introduced Frank Denneman, the presenter. The PernixData presentation began after a few introductory words from Frank.

PernixData offers its FVP solution, which uses server-side Flash memory to increase I/O performance for VMs across a cluster. This addresses many issues including VM sprawl, the I/O blender, latency to SAN storage, queue depth limitations, and more. (Sound Bite: Storage problems form over 75% of VMware support calls). FVP also eliminates the major chunk of demanding I/O from hitting the SAN, since these are served up from within the server’s Flash memory. Thus performance to all VMs improves, regardless of whether they are accelerated by FVP or not. At its core, FVP decouples storage performance from capacity, so that each issue could be independently addressed.

Audience viewA view of the audience during Frank Denneman’s presentation

You can view the entire presentation by Frank here (VMUG login required).

After this great presentation, attendees headed for refills on their food and drinks, as the meeting entered its final stages. Chris took the floor again to survey the attendees on the convenience of the meeting time, the location, as well as preferences for future meeting topics. It was then time for the raffle, and the prizes were distributed to the lucky winners. I said my goodbyes to fellow attendees, congratulated the leaders, and made my way out around 1 pm.

Raffle WinnersThe lucky raffle winners

 To summarize, the venue and timing were excellent and convenient to attendees. There were 45-50 attendees in total, which is excellent for the first meeting of a VMUG chapter. The food and networking were great, and the presentation was excellent. Andrew and Chris managed all aspects of the meeting well, from the planning and preparation to the execution itself. Feedback from fellow attendees was uniformly positive, with all intending to return for the next meeting.

VMUG Leader PicsLeaders of Sacramento VMUG, San Francisco VMUG, and Silicon Valley VMUG with Frank Denneman

Congratulations to Chris Seline and Andrew Uplinger for a great job!! We hope to see many more successful meetings from the San Francisco VMUG chapter. Follow @SFVMUG for updates from this chapter.

 

 

 

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News Roundup

I have a number of news updates to share with you this week.

New VMUG Website

VMUG has updated their website with a new look, but also with some overdue enhancements to help members, sponsors, and leaders to access information easily and improve collaboration. Please visit http://www.vmug.com to view the new site.

VMUG announces the Game On program

VMUG has announced the Game On program to boost membership and engagement with its members. The membership base stood at 80,000 at the beginning of 2014, and the target is reach 100,000 members by VMworld 2014. Please note that VMUG counts only active members, defined as those that attended a meeting or event within the past year.

Members can win prizes for signing up other members, including an iPad Air, and a trip to VMworld. The VMUG chapter that gets the most new members during this period also wins prizes. Sign in for the Game On program here

VMware announcement on vCloud Hybrid Service

VMware announced on April 15, 2014 that the vCloud Hybrid Service would be available to customers starting from $835 a month for up to 1TB of storage, with a 15 minute RPO. This is a critical resource for many organizations that do not protect their mission-critical applications. The press release from VMware can be viewed here and the blog post by Bill Fathers can be viewed here.

My guest post on VSAN

VMware announced on March 12, 2014 that its VMware Virtual SAN (VSAN) product was moving out of beta and would be generally available to customers. A much anticipated product, VSAN offers a huge list of features and addresses a number of customer use cases.

Is VSAN just a great storage product, or does it have greater potential? Read my entire post at Greg Stuart’s vDestination site.

Why should you attend a VMUG User Conference during 2014

VMUG User Conferences are a great resource for customers, partners, and VMware to get product information, stay in touch with current technologies and best practices, as well as networking with industry peers. More information and details in my post in VMUG Voice

Information on the Silicon Valley VMUG User Conference

The Silicon Valley VMUG User Conference will be held at the San Jose Convention Center on April 23, 2014. Some of the highlights of the agenda are a keynote by Ben Fathi, CTO at VMware, a panel session on End User Computing trends, and a number of VMware and partner sessions.

If you will be in Silicon Valley on April 23, 2014, I would like to meet you. The link to register is http://www.vmug.com/p/cm/ld/fid=4864 , hoping to see you there.

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Congratulations to the 2014 vExperts

The list of 2014 vExperts was announced on April 1st – no, this was serious, not meant as a joke. There were 754 vExperts on this list, making it the largest one ever. In addition, there will be more announcements on a quarterly basis during the year as well. The formal announcement and the entire list of 2014 vExperts can be viewed here.

So what is the qualification to become a vExpert, and how do to earn their stripes? As Corey Romero mentioned in his blog post, vExpert is not a “technical certification”, and does not measure the technical aptitude or capability of the applicant. Rather, it is a method of identifying people who were particularly engaged with their community, and had substantial influence within those communities. This award is particularly apt in the age of social media, that it identifies and rewards the influencers who spread the word about benefits of technology platforms.

I was one of the vExperts anointed this year (my first vExpert award), and I consider this a great honor, and a recognition of my support to this community. This award energizes me to serve the VMware user community in roles beyond my existing ones as Board Member at VMware User Group (VMUG), Chairman of the VMUG Partner Council, and Leader of Silicon Valley VMUG. I look forward to ideas from the community on additional roles.

On a related note, if you will be in Silicon Valley on April 23, 2014, I would like to meet you at the Silicon Valley VMUG User Conference at the San Jose Convention Center. The link to register is http://www.vmug.com/p/cm/ld/fid=4864, hoping to see you there.

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Silicon Valley VMUG User Conference on April 23

I would like to invite you to the 2014 VMware User Group’s User Conference at the San Jose Convention Center on April 23rd. There will be a wide range of choices from VMware and partner sessions, a Solutions Center with partner exhibits, keynote session by Ben Fathi, CTO at VMware, and panel sessions from reputed speakers within the industry. What is more, VMUG has you covered with breakfast, lunch, and coffee – you can spend the entire day attending sessions, previewing the Solutions Center, and networking with fellow attendees.

Some demographics about the attendees:

Pic1

Some key facts from 2013 User Conference attendees (information gathered from attendee surveys)

  • 99% of attendee survey respondents plan to return in 2014
  • 98% would recommend events to a colleague
  • 85% of attendees are decision makers / influencers within their organizations

Attendees also mentioned these as their primary reasons for attending:

  1. Build Relationships with VMUG Members
  2. Learn about the latest solutions to their VMware installations
  3. Share their Knowledge

One of the key membership benefits that all VMUG members receive is unlimited participation in VMUG meetings and VMUG User Conferences. Registration is open for this conference, kindly login to your VMUG account to register.  The registration link can be accessed here. If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, I hope to meet you there.

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