First thought of the day on day 2 – wow, are my calves and feet sore. There is a lot of walking over a really massive conference center -- not to mention my hotel was 8 blocks away uphill. I took it as a challenge to make the daily routine carbon free and succeeded until the last minute ride to the airport.
The big news items were mostly on Day 1 – and having time to digest the first day of announcements and activities I started to realize the impact of VMware’s cloud hybrid service announcements. First of all, VMware is announcing a very nice way for enterprises to start to ‘test’ the waters. For example by purchasing (really renting) vCHS cloud services (going beyond virtualization) at one of VMware’s vCHS sites or using Savvis (with more to come) – a customer can place some workloads there and start to get the feel for cloud. Is it secure? Is it cheaper? Is it easy to use? These are all questions that can be vetted by an enterprise by using these off-premises services.
For the enterprise, this provides a treasure trove of new possibilities. For example if the data center is highly virtualized already – by testing out the cloud services from VMware – it can be treated like a try and buy. And since vCHS allows both dedicated (single tenant) and multi-tenant (virtual private cloud) offerings it is just a matter of choice whether it's physical versus virtual control you want to have.
Some of the big issues I hear potential customers talk about all the time is-- does this stuff really work, is it secure, and is it cost-effective? Once they get those questions answered – they can move on to what I call the hard questions – what impact would cloud have on how we run our business? What happens to our normal budgeting process when going to an on-demand model? What is IT’s role in the hybrid cloud world? With vCHS available, the enterprise can now experiment with cloud services more easily on the same familiar platform running in-house and move that much closer to ITaaS – where IT becomes a cloud service provider with on-premises cloud services and a broker for off-premises public cloud services.
Also on day 2 and 3 I got to run around the pavilion floor which was also huge and full of some really cool new vendors. What surprised me a lot were how many storage and data protection vendors there were at the pavilion – like maybe storage was important or something!
Seriously there was a lot going on with storage, data protection, and networks – which my colleagues will attest to in their separate blogs. The companies that I met with at the pavilion and later in private meetings were all pushing the envelope from innovative technology to new economic value propositions. Let’s look at a few quickly here and I’ll follow on with more in separate blogs in the coming weeks.
Metacloud – a private cloud solution company that takes OpenStack to the next level and creates what I like to call Managed Private Clouds. This takes all the hassle out of running your own infrastructure yet allows you to own everything and keep it behind your firewall. I see this as an important kind of offer (which I’m seeing from others as well) that allows the enterprise to be quickly and more easily onboarded to cloud with the expertise and additional software provided to help the enterprise make the successful transition from a virtual data center to cloud.
Adaptive Computing – This is a company that has been building HPC solutions for a while and are taking their expertise related to scale and infrastructure and selling a cloud lifecycle and automation suite MOAB Cloud Suite that allows customers to use OpenStack, VMware, and/or KVM, combined with enterprise grade storage technology from EMC and NetApp. This is a rich cloud service management offering that includes automation, orchestration, chargeback and end-to-end service lifecycle management.
HyTrust – while there wasn’t much said in the keynotes about security – there were a couple of interesting security companies at the show that included HyTrust. I’ve been an advocate for the Intel TXT technology for some time and HyTrust is one of the companies that provide a friendly and usable version. TXT allows IT to manage the infrastructure components with identities – so only known physical systems can run a given hypervisor and a VM – all the layers are verified and allowed or blocked from becoming part of a resource pool. HyTrust also incorporates a rich set of compensating controls that includes logging, authorization, authentication, and hardening of the hypervisor.
CloudPassage – Where other companies stop at the security down to the VM – CloudPassage provides a high level of assurance by protecting the Guest OS with its Halo product that makes sure the OS and the applications running on it are not compromised, that compliance rules are met, and that only those that are authorized have access to the resources they are supposed to.
Condusiv – has been in the industry a long time – more than 2 decades with the successful Diskeeper product that defragmented drives on systems. A newer offering called V-locity can improve VM performance as a filter driver that optimizes I/O by removing redundant I/Os as well as by placing hints in the I/O stream used to intelligently cache specific data.
Virtustream – xStream is a company that is both a CSP and a product company that offers customers private/public/hybrid cloud capabilities. For private cloud Virtustream installs their platform on top of your infrastructure and runs it as a Managed Private Cloud. For public cloud they offer multi-tenant economics while maintaining a single pane of glass for management. One of the coolest features of xStream is the ability to dynamically resize the VM. Many clouds offer 3 or 4 pre-sized VMs and if you are only using 20% of a VM you are stuck paying for the whole enchilada whereas xStream reduces or increases as needed and charges you for what you use at a very fine grain level.
Cloud Physics – Takes performance management and maybe more importantly large configuration insights to a new level. What happens when a particular storage device has too many VMs on it? Does application A cohabitate well with B on the same virtualized physical server? What I really liked about this company's product is that they take the performance and log data from all the systems at a customer site, anonymize them, and add them to a cloud of data that comes from all their customers. Then it becomes possible to apply data science algorithms like swarm theory or social network theory to the data to find patterns of best fit and performance for their customers. Very cool usage of big data and data science methods applied to a real and down to earth problem for many VM administrators. There is so much more that these guys do – you have to go visit their site and talk to them to understand the value of looking at large data sets over time.
CloudSigma – A true public cloud with IaaS services based in Switzerland with colo-based locations in Las Vegas, Amsterdam, and the UK with others in the works. What I thought was really very cool about this company is that they deliver all their storage services on SSD, 10G network, and massive memory VMs. Their conjecture is that this takes the bottlenecks out of most applications to the point where it is actually cost neutral while taking all the latency and slowdowns out of the processing so that they actually can use less clock time. This is one IaaS company that is worth a look as well.
Tier3 – This is a company that continues to drive more innovation with managed cloud services, continued investment in PaaS with their Iron Foundry based offering called Web Fabric, and incredible (for public cloud) SLAs at 99.999%. Now Tier3 has a new reseller platform as well that allows VARs to resell their services while maintaining value to their customers by onboarding and managing their customers' cloud presence.
CloudVelocity – This is a company that also has some great technology. Many companies have concerns with the complexity of migrating applications to the cloud. Added to that is the fact that there are some companies that help with migration and add their own layer in between the cloud and the app that becomes a new layer of cost and complexity. CloudVelocity takes the approach of moving everything seamlessly without leaving any residual software behind. The software actually discovers all the dependencies including Active Directory and LDAP. This approach lends itself to some unique use cases such as – using a cloud target for DR with Cloud Velocity performing an automated migration, or quickly copying an environment for dev and test, or running the software on multiple clouds to compare cost models.
I didn’t get all the companies I saw in this post but there will be more follow-on blogs that will focus more on these companies in more detail as well as other new companies we discovered this past week that are changing the IT landscape as we speak. I can’t think of a more exciting or disruptive time in the IT world than now – and I love it.