Thursday, April 09, 2009

Cloud Computing viewpoint from Red Monk Analyst Michael Coté

The next session is an analyst viewpoint of Cloud Computing

Cloud Computing
Michael Coté, Industry Analyst, RedMonk
Linux is at the center of what's come to be called Cloud Computing. As with open source, SOA, and Web 2.0, the tech industry has quickly fallen for cloud computing. The reasons are compelling: promises of scalability, low cost, flexibility, and light weight process. The core question about cloud computing is how it effects the industry and cultural position of operating systems and other "raw infrastructure": does Linux "matter" in cloud computing?  How might the Linux community evolve - or be forced to evolve - in a wave of cloud computing enthusiasm? Is cloud computing an opportunity or threat for the Linux community? Or is it just another shiny object of distraction? This talk will discuss these questions and more.

Cloud computing now is like early SOA:  It's Silly-putty!

We'll take a simple definition and go with it.

How does "Linux" fit in?  SWOT.  Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats...

Primarily focused on Cloud in the key three *aaS's (pronounce that carefully!):  SaaS, PaaS, and IaaS.

Why Cloud Copmuting:

Users:  Cost, Flexibility, Elasticity/Scalability
Vendors:  new business models, new features, lower cost of ongoing maintenance (?)

Cloud Computing has sort of supplanted discussions around autonomic or some of the *aaS terminology.

Hype-fed, semantic confusion - public vs. private

Retraining - multi-thread development, dynamic operations

Ending up paying more, e.g. $20k on-premisies vs. $150k off-premises.

Lock-in - the current public cloud solutions debateably have lock-in today.  There are some activities to try to use standard/de-facto interfaces like Amazon's EC2 and Eucalyptus, Rightscale abstracting or layering on top of an infrastructure, etc.

Legacy concrete - moving workloads to the cloud are not as simple as a finger snap.  Often need to replicate a cloud solution, maintain internal and external solutions, and pay the additional cost for having two solutions running concurrently while evaluating and moving to public clouds.

Virtualization turns out to be more important - "fog computing".  Maybe Virtualization is more important and will outlive the Cloud Computing hype today.

When looking at pubic cloud versus an internal deployment, you still have to look at the total cost of the solution.  This includes capital versus operational expenses, management expenses, ongoing expenses, etc.

IaaS:  Amazon EC2, S3, etc.

PaaS -, Microsfot Azure

Sun Cloud, 3Tera Rackspace, & reborn hosters

Automation and provisioning people helps enable all cloud-like solutions, such as Puppet.

Linux Strengths
- Appealing for it's (potential) cost of zero
- Reliability, known quantity "at scale", breadth
- Malleable & Transparent
- Easier for IT management and tooling
- Virtualization
- Existing, Linux compatible applications

Linux Weaknesses
- Focus on the OS level, not applications and usage
- Weak connections to the development platforms, with exceptions like LAMP
- Virtualization and Automation Fragmentation
- Susceptible to "bad citizens"

Linux Opportunities
- OS for Cloud client - Netbooks, RIAs, "mobile"
- Model driven automation
- Fragmented air-space - everyone wants a cloud, everyone wants Linux
- Easy way to boot-strap into using Linux - deploying Linux has become easier but with the cloud, creating new Linux images is downright trivial.

Linux Threats
- SaaS and PaaS means "the OS doesn't matter" - cars with hoods that don't open (past: VM & .NET CLR)
- Commercial vendors creating new closed source worlds, e.g. Apple
- Cloud Distro Madness - QA & Support matrices
- Cloud consolidation & collapse - eggs in a basket

- Worst case scenario:  Cloud Computing is nothing and Nothing Changes for Linux
- Best case scenario:  Many, many more Linux instances
-- In short, the best of all worlds, can effectively do nothing from the point of view of the Linux community and either reap the benefit for free or let the wave of hype pass by without impact.
- Thinking ahead:  transitioning "brown field" applications.  Possibly more interesting to figure out how to move existing, older applications into the Cloud environment.  How do you get most of that old, boring, Enterprise software out into the Cloud?

So is there any thinking about interoperability with other Clouds?  And how does this interact with the view of the Gartner Hype Cycle - will we cross the chasm here because of inhibitors like cross-cloud interoperability?

Cloud computing is mostly going to be just another "new" option that will co-exist along with all of the other options.

Question on internationalization:  some countries may be very specific to specific language subsets within a particular country.  Then, how do you benefit from others that are localized to a specific language?  How do changes fold back into the open source communities?

Privacy and data security is going to be a huge part of this.  Does this problem still exist when moving the cloud "in-house"?  Again, various departments will be sharing the same infrastructure, in theory.  Aren't the same privacy constraints a concern?  And yes, to some extent, although employment guidelines help provide some protection.  Amazon recently put out a short white-paper on how to comply with HIPAA requirements and some description about how Amazon does not have access to your data.  But, oh, btw, engage your own laywer:  this is not legal advice.  The privacy space is likely to be complex for a while.

Will virtualization and cloud computing reduce the need for network and system administrators in the future?  Sort of like the question that asks if we put robots on the assembly line will we remove people or reassign them?  General answer right now:  the complexity changes and the costs over time may go down but don't expect any immediate reduction in the need for systems administrators.  But of course, learning new skills is always necessary in our fast moving, high tech environment.


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