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The Cloud Ecosystem

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The Cloud Ecosystem

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Nimbula's co-founder and VP of Products, Willem van Biljon, spoke at the recent Cloud Connect event in Santa Clara. Here are some of the points Willem made during his talk. The video of the full talk is available online at http://bcove.me/6fllnnzg

Building a proper cloud, whether it is a private or public cloud, is more than buying and implementing a product. It is a rather complex architecture with many interrelated pieces that need to be considered. Ultimately, it is a about a whole bunch of things that need to work together.

So, what is involved to make this work?

  • Compute and Storage hardware
  • Networking infrastructure
  • A Cloud Operating System, something that will make all of the infrastructure accessible to the outside world. 
  • On top of that, the various services that people are going to need (PaaS, SaaS, etc.)
  • Alongside we need some management infrastructure, billing, external storage or compute resources, etc.

So overall, it is a pretty large ecosystem and many vendors and products come into play.

The Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) provides the software that gives control of hardware layer. Just like traditional Operating Systems, but with a large set of hardware. The issues we think are important are:

  • Scale: lessons learned from large scale matter at any scale. Large properties like Google, Amazon or Yahoo learned lessons that we can apply to all data centers
  • Automation: low costs implies low human touch
  • Resource management: who gets what
  • Permission / policy management: who can get what

If we look at the hypervisor, the first lesson is that the hypervisor is not the Cloud OS. It is an essential component, but not all of it. In particular, it does not provide resource management across multiple machines. The hypervisor market is rapidly maturing and one should not build applications or a cloud architecture that rely on a specific hypervisor. 

Large enterprises have shown that commodity hardware can lower costs. The magic is in the software, not the hardware: design the application for commodity hardware and you can dramatically lower costs.

In the network, as applications are no longer bound to specific servers, the topology no longer defines security. The network security now needs to be configured automatically and managed dynamically. 

How do I federate to other people's cloud - whether private or public? There are a number of key challenges around the API, the identity that I need to present, the data that I need to move and the application environment in which the virtual machine will execute. Of all of these, identity is probably the main challenge to address. 

Billing is about getting money back for the resources that are consumed. It generally breaks down to three elements: Firstly you need to be able to properly measure and meter what is used, secondly to assign proper rates to the various resource elements and finally to generate a bill. The important  elements is finding and assigning the appropriate rate for a given resource – that is where data is transformed into business value.

There is a massive amount of data on enterprise systems today and there is an equally massive opportunity to re-architect that storage to use cheaper systems. There is no simple, one-size-fits all answer. The key is balance and figure our where do you need today's high end enterprise storage and where do you need the lower cost and highly scalable newer storage systems.

So in conclusion, the cloud ecosystem has many components and many issues per component. We believe that one should start by focusing on the key issues per component and find the right answer for each part.

Join us in exploring application and infrastructure changes required for running scalable, observable, and portable apps on Kubernetes.


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