Cloudscaling’s New Strategy: Open Cloud infrastructure

Posted on by Randy Bias


Over the past two years, I’ve talked at length about the emerging success gap between ‘enterprise cloud’ and the AWS model. In the past, I’ve asserted that these two different approaches to cloud service very different kinds of applications: legacy apps vs. greenfield apps. Or more appropriately: enterprise applications vs. cloud-ready applications. Even before this, I argued that private clouds *can* be real, if built in the model of successful public AWS-style clouds.

We believe that enterprise clouds have a place in furthering virtualization and server consolidation. Virtualization 2.0, if you will. This approach to building infrastructure clouds is important. This is what we call an ‘enterprise cloud,’ and the market for this approach exists as can be seen from VCE Vblock.

We also believe that Amazon Web Services and Rackspace Cloud’s success, as highlighted by the lack of success by public *enterprise* clouds, can’t be ignored. These public clouds are hosting a new generation of cloud-ready, elastic applications deployed by everyone from a single developer up to Fortune 10 companies. We call this an ‘open cloud’.

Enterprise clouds and open clouds are on completely different tracks, servicing completely different needs. Businesses need not only an enterprise cloud strategy, but an open cloud strategy.

Some businesses might mix an enterprise cloud with an open cloud for different workloads. Or, they might adopt enterprise cloud for internal enterprise apps, and open cloud for external-facing, cloud-ready apps such as new web and mobile applications. There could be many permutations, but it’s critical for your business to understand the requirements of next-generation cloud-ready apps and support their deployment, because enterprise clouds for these types of applications are not the answer. Only the open cloud approach allows us to manage ‘shadow IT’, enable security & compliance, drive greater business value, and support the emergence of cloud-ready applications as a growth engine.

Enterprise Cloud Litmus Test
Not sure how to know what your current strategy is or what kind of cloud you are building? Here’s a simple assessment that’s good for cloud service providers building private/public clouds or enterprise IT teams building an internal private cloud.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Does this cloud focus on migration of existing applications in enterprise datacenters? (features like hypervisor compatibility, live migration, high availability SAN storage, etc.)
  • Is it expensive, complex, and labor-intensive to operate?
  • Do you find name-brand hardware throughout, creating lock-in?
  • Does it encourage very complex networking?
  • Are users obligated to contracts and monthly invoices? (no variable pricing options)
  • Does it provide arbitrary ‘pools’ of ‘resources’ the the end-user has to carve up manually? (i.e. clock cycles, RAM, storage)
  • Are you still in vendor-lock-in land?  Delivering F5-as-a-service or Netscaler-as-a-service rather than Load-Balancing-as-a-Service?

If more than half of these are true, you are probably looking at a cloud built with enterprise computing technology.

Open Cloud Litmus Test
On the other hand, here’s a test for open clouds, whether public or private, or internal/external:

  • Can you spin up 1,000 virtual servers in < 5 minutes?
  • Are your tenants focused on using cloud-ready management platforms like RightScale and enStratus?
  • Can you run a big data or Hadoop job on 1,000+ VMs for an hour without the system falling over?
  • Are the basic networking and networking services (e.g. load balancing) simple, straightforward, and end-user manageable?
  • Is it using standards-based APIs, de facto or not?  (AWS? OpenStack?)
  • Is the underlying physical infrastructure and cloud operations team focused on: homogeneity, modularity, common denominator solutions, and automation?
  • Can you compete successfully against Amazon Web Services on price and service levels combined?

As in the previous test, if more than half of these are true for you, then you are probably looking at an open cloud.

What the market is telling us
We’ve learned about these two clouds through experiences talking and deploying with our customers. They’ve told us that they need a solution in addition to their existing enterprise cloud.

You see it in almost every enterprise cloud deployment: The project moves along only so far before the team realizes it’s not servicing certain requirements. As the market has evolved, customers have started telling us that they want cloud infrastructure designed for cloud-ready apps. They want a more open approach, one that saves them from vendor lock-in and excessive software taxation. Our customers are also telling us that they are *not* looking for technology, but rather proven, production-grade solutions.

In line with that, we are announcing the industry’s first comprehensive solution for designing, building and operating open cloud infrastructure for cloud-ready applications: the Cloudscaling Open Cloud System.

What are cloud-ready applications?
Cloud-ready applications are designed to take advantage of the economics and agility achievable by using open cloud infrastructure. These applications differ fundamentally from traditional applications in that they are more elastic in nature, manage their own data replication, are designed-for-failure, horizontally scalable, and use automated DevOps-style management frameworks. Cloud-ready applications manage failure in software, while legacy enterprise architectures manage failure in hardware. This important distinction eliminates typical enterprise application dependencies on expensive and proprietary infrastructure solutions.

Cloud-ready applications can be designed from the ground up to leverage open cloud infrastructure. In some cases, they can be legacy apps that have been re-architected or containerized to run on open cloud infrastructure.

Skating to where the puck is going to be
That’s what we’re betting the company on. While there’s going to be a big market for enterprise clouds into the foreseeable future, our product strategy anticipates an accelerating adoption curve for infrastructure that’s flexible, scalable and economical: open cloud infrastructure.

Simplicity scales.

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