Cloud Wars: Dell Fights Back With UEC

While Verizon is acquiring Terremark and Time Warner Cable, yes TW Cable, is acquiring NaviSite, Amazon continues to disrupt the industry with their 12 plus Cloud offerings.  The more EC2 grows, generated $220 million in 2009 with predicted revenue of $500 Million in 2010 and $750 Million in 2011, the more it validates that customers are willing to transform their purchasing behavior from hardware devices to compute nodes.

Meanwhile, Enterprises are struggling with virtualization and virtualization stall with the impending reality that they must operate within a Cloud model.  Here lies VMware, the dominant x86 virtualization provider, as they have a complete set of products and 3rd party certified partners to help their customers go virtual.  Let’s face it; ESX/ESXi and vCenter are excellent products.  Additionally, VMware has introduced vCloud and vCloud Express “VMware Power. By the hour.” Essentially, this technology allows Enterprises to build a private cloud and Service Providers to build public clouds and to provide hybrid cloud offerings.

Of course, this pits Amazon’s Cloud Offerings, which are not built with VMware’s technology, against VMware and some of their most powerful partners.  Amazon utilizes the Xen hypervisor along with other customized/internal solutions.  Understanding that VMware is the dominant Enterprise x86 virtualization technology, Amazon has introduced VM Import.  VM Import allows Enterprises to easily migrate VMware Guests (VMDK) into the Amazon EC2 Cloud.

However, what if I want to create a private EC2 within my Enterprise?  Along comes Dell’s Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud (UEC) infrastructure solution. Dell UEC combines the power of Dell’s server hardware with the software of Ubuntu Linux and Eucalyptus providing Enterprises with the same virtual machine images and management APIs that Amazon uses for EC2.  Well it is not exactly EC2, as some will argue that Eucalyptus is not a full implementation of the EC2 API, and it is a matter of fact that Amazon has plenty of additional customized internal tools/systems that make EC2 a reality.  Not to mention that EC2 relies on the Xen hypervisor while UEC utilizes KVM virtualization.  All in all, it’s a great start.

As always, Dell has published an excellent UEC Reference Architecture White Paper for UEC Standard Edition.  This begs the question whether or not Dell will offer Enterprise and/or Service Provider Editions of UEC.  In any case, Dell now has a visionary offering that they will be able to evangelize to their current customers and prospects.  In fact, as UEC matures, Dell is sure to add elements of their entire product portfolio; namely Compellent storage equipment, more powerful server platforms, and perhaps networking/storage hardware via their partnerships with Juniper, Brocade, and others.

One last thought, Dell has incredible flexibility in creating unique cloud offerings via simply changing software and hardware partners.  For example, offering a solution based on Red Hat with Delta Cloud or perhaps a secondary UEC offering that utilizes OpenStack.  This flexibility also translates to Dell’s Open Management philosophy, which is sure to attract additional software partners thereby creating a UEC partner ecosystem.

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Riddle Me This: Cloud Sprawl

Riddle me this: Imagine taking a dollar bill and cutting it up into four pieces. Each piece is placed inside different containers that are identical. Carry the 4 containers together in a bag and their total value remains $1. Now, take a second dollar bill and cut it into four pieces making sure they are the same dimensions as the first one and put it into 4 identical containers to the first batch. Place the 4 new containers in the same back and shake. All eight containers have a value of $2. Next, each into the bag and throw out one of the containers. The value of all 7 containers is now only $1 yet you have 3 extra containers. Finally, throw out the 3 remaining pieces from the original dollar bill that is missing a piece inside the bag.

Extra credit: Multiply the above riddle by 1000 and repeat.

Extra Extra Credit: Do the above with a mix of $1s, $5s, $10s, $20s, and $100s.

This is Cloud Sprawl and today this is an impossible task. Cloud Sprawl includes remnants from virtual machines, data, users, storage blocks, acls, firewall rules, vpns, passwords, and more.

What’s the answer to Cloud Sprawl? A new management paradigm. A move away from the after-thought that is server, storage, security, and network management. A move away from wrap-and-roll buying decisions. A move away from the hype that is today while building a real plan to get there tomorrow.

Tired of the Cloud: Virtualization (Part 1)

Contrary to mainstream reports, Cloud computing is not synonymous with virtualization.  While Cloud computing and its derivatives are in their infancy, virtualization has been around since the 1960s and was first implemented by IBM 30 years ago to logically partition mainframe computers into virtual machines.  With the standardization on x86 architecture in the 1990s, virtualization moved from the proprietary mainframe to commodity X86 hardware.  Unlike the mainframe, X86 hardware was not designed to handle the challenges of virtualization.  To overcome these challenges companies, both commercial and OSS, emerged with VMware and XenSource (Citrix) being the most widely known.

 

As a quick aside, once again the pundants have called for the death of the mainframe.  However, IBM responded to the challenge by releasing the z/OS and specifically the z/VM hypervisor for their mainframes.  For the first time, enterprises could run z/Linux on mainframes and virtualize thousands of Linux servers on a single mainframe.  

 

Two theories on this link:

 

While utility, grid, and now cloud computing vendors struggled for widespread acceptance, virtualization found a niche within development and test environments.  The ability to rapidly deploy and tear down virtual servers followed by the promise of server consolidation caught the eye of both enterprises and cloud vendors.  The idea was brilliant, separate the operating system from the application thereby “cloud enabling” applications without waiting for the application vendors themselves.   However, the reality has been quite different.

 

In August of 2006, Amazon released EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) based on the Xen hypervisor.  Hailed as a “science project”, EC2 allowed users (individual, SMB, Large Enterprise, and Software Companies) to host their applications on a virtual infrastructure.  While EC2 has experienced its growing pains, it has become a thought and revenue leader in cloud computing infrastructure.  However, Amazon’s cloud is much more than simply the Xen hypervisor running on a server farm.

 

In the end, virtualization has some of the same challenges as cloud computing; manageability, security, networking, storage, etc.   For the virtualization vendors, there is much revenue and market share to be gained by tying these technologies and concepts together.  In fact, VMware has boldly released the Virtual Datacenter OS that proclaims to transform your datacenter into an “internal cloud.”  If only it was that easy.

 

Repeat after me, Cloud Computing is NOT Virtualization.   

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