Sunday, February 10, 2013

Real Cloud or just Virtualization? or Hosting? or only a Web Application?

At this point, I am sure that you are as saturated as I am about hearing the term Cloud used in the wrong places. 
I often find myself explaining to customers that the software that those vendors want to sell them is not technically Cloud.

This post represents my attempt to get us all on the same page on what is true Cloud Computing and what is not; what is IaaS and what is isn't; what is real PaaS and what is fake PaaS; and what is SaaS and what is just a Web App. 

All my points below are absolutely debatable, and I am sure that many readers may disagree in some of the gray areas, but at least, this is how I (and many others in the Cloud space) understand this paradigm labeled as "Cloud".  

News Flash Technology Vendors: It is perfectly OK to have a software or hardware solution that has nothing to do with Cloud! 
You do not need to claim to have a Cloud solution in order to get legitimized. 
My advice to the traditional hardware or software vendors would be: stay tall, be proud of yourself, be honest, we need you as you are! Not everything has to be Cloud.
As a consumer, a technology vendor will earn my respect by explaining me how well its solution solves my needs, and not by telling me how "cloudy" the offering is.


Nope,  sorry, a CD-ROM + Cotton it is not Cloud Software


Real Cloud vs. Virtualization, Middleware, Hosting, and other stuff

The first preconception to demystify is the belief that Clouds are always public, such as the ones offered by popular public providers like Amazon AWS, Google Cloud, RackSpace, OpenShift, iCloud, and the likes.
There are many great Cloud solutions that run on-premises in private data centers.

In order to back what I explained so far, I will take the punches and go ahead and provide my definition of the term Cloud Computing:

Cloud Computing is an abstract way of thinking about infrastructure, software, and/or other resources in which they are no longer managed as individual assets, they are aggregated as a pool of capabilities and delivered as a service. The underlying details become opaque for the consumers; whom are presented with simplified interfaces, allowing them to extract the actual value or outcome of these resources as if they were a utility.


Pretty much every software vendor has the word Cloud in its website

The market pressures make many to feel that they must be part of the Cloud buzz, so they go and desperately position any sort of enterprise software as Cloud Software. Didn't we see the same pattern a few years a go when suddenly everything was labeled as SOA?


So... Do you remember that we always told you that we were "The Virtualization Company"? well... now switch it to: "We Are The Cloud Company"

That's is why you see virtualization vendors re-labeling their virtualization software as Cloud Computing. Let's be clear, you can do Cloud with or without virtualization. Let's be even clearer, image management and automatic instance provisioning does not mean Cloud, that's great virtualization management software, nothing wrong with that! we love virtualization! but that is not Cloud by itself. 
Virtualization implies the manipulation of individual assets (versus consuming services) and requires a substantial amount of manual heavy lifting and button pushing compared with the levels of abstraction, elasticity, and self-serviceability often found in Clouds.


Well, it can serve multiple applications and services on demand, then, It's a Cloud! 

Same concept applies to Application Servers and other middleware software. I love Tomcat and Spring Framework, but no matter how many times I turn around the vendor's brochure I cannot see a Cloud there!
Same is true with name-value distributed storage and cache systems, they are magnificent pieces of software, but they are not Clouds by themselves.


The Web Hosting term is becoming a bad word, most of today's hosting providers are relabeling themselves as cloud providers!

The trend advances over the Hosting Providers too; which all manage to add the Cloud word in their marketing messages. We all love to host a website for $9.99 a month, but just because is in the Internet does not mean that it is Cloud. No support for reach multi-tier apps, no elasticity, no pay-only-for-what-you-use, no application lifecycle management, etc.


It is SaaS! Don't you see?!, it is hosted online... you access it from your browser... It is SaaS!

The SaaS space does not escape from the CBS (Cloud Buzz Syndrome). Many Software-as-a-Service Apps or Software Suites are effectively sharing a lot with Cloud, and under many classifications SaaS is usually considered as one of the cloud "variants". The reality is that you can offer a legit SaaS without being necessarily based on Cloud technology. 
The app can be hosted online and at the same time it can be bought, consumed, administrated, licensed, and paid as traditional software, and not as a service.
As a second manifestation of the syndrome, now every web application used from a browser or mobile device seems to be a SaaS (regardless if it has a utility-based service behind or not). Sorry folks, that's a Web App! 

Conclusion

I hope the article can help to distinguish between Cloud and Vapor.
It should be clear that not everything is Cloud and neither it should.
If you need cloud technology go and research the offerings looking for capabilities such abstraction, on demand auto-scalability, self-service, automation, services, pay-as-you-go, pay-only-for-what-you-use, opex over capex, and other characteristics typical in Cloud and SaaS models.
Do not be tricked or forced to buy offerings disguised as Cloud or SaaS.
Cloud is a great paradigm, but the other types of technologies are useful as they are, they should not try to jump in the cloud wagon.


Cheers,

Juan Noceda

Related:

Juan Noceda interviewed in London by Richard Morrell (Audio)
Juan Noceda presenting in Boston Summit 2012 on PaaS Roadmap via OpenShift (Video)
Juan Noceda presents OpenShift roadmap at OpenShift.RedHat.com (Link)


Monday, January 14, 2013

Interviewed by Richard Morrell in his iTunes Podcast

I had the privilege of being interviewed by the cloud legend Richard Morrell also found in twitter as @EMEACloudGuy or in his great blog http://cloudevangelist.org.
I was part of one of his neat podcast series available in iTunes.

We covered the state of the cloud landscape with more emphasis in Platform-as-a-Service PaaS, with even narrower focus, obviously, on my product: OpenShift.

There is a lot exciting stuff going on in the Red Hat and OpenShift worlds these days, and I tried to share that excitement with the audience through concrete announcements, facts, releases, features, plans, and many other pretty interesting data points.

I hope you find it useful and enjoy it as much as I did. Here it is the link of the interview's audio:

http://cloudevangelist.org/2012/12/12/podcast-juan-noceda/