|By Ray Solnik||
|July 22, 2014 10:00 AM EDT||
Like most maturing industries, standards are required to achieve broad adoption and maximum value. For the cloud, in particular cloud Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) offerings like Amazon Web Services and Rackspace Cloud, it's time for a standard method for presenting these services so buyers can reasonably compare and contrast and make better buying decisions.
At the moment, purchasing IaaS is similar to how groceries were bought decades ago - very difficult to compare - both the product contents and the price/value vary from one vendor to another. A recent study conducted by the Open Data Center Alliance (ODCA) - involving Intel, Appnomic Systems and a number of other ODCA enterprise members - illustrates just how difficult the situation is today.
Other industries have gone through this evolutionary phase of defining standards and the cloud computing industry will do the same. New cars started being sold with a Monroney sticker in the windows revealing EPA gas mileage data. Mortgages come with HUD-1 disclosure documentation to ensure all mortgages are comparable from one to the other. Credit card promotions have a standard presentation for disclosing interest rates, annual fees, and other key terms.
The key questions are when it will happen and how this standardization will occur - through self-regulation or government intervention.
The time has come for the cloud computing industry to step up. It IS going to happen. The Federal government has already begun to engage on rating and comparing broadband providers. Cloud providers could very well be next - and that may not be a good thing. The industry has an opportunity to pick up the ball and address the situation proactively.
What's the Cloud Equivalent of Calories, Carbs, and Flavors?
One of the biggest obstacles to creating a "nutrition label" type of standard for cloud computing is that IT IS HARD to compare one cloud to another cloud. There are so many variables, for example, the testing and verification process is still in the very early stages. PriceWaterhouseCoopers has written a paper on the value of third-party validation and how it can help protect a brand in the cloud, yet this process can be an expensive and time-consuming process.
A glance at the overwhelming amount of information involved in providing cloud services can be, well, overwhelming and create its own challenge of comparing offerings. You can see what I mean at the Amazon Web Services and Rackspace pricing pages (available at these hyperlinks to web pages at these companies' websites respectively at the time of publication: AWS, RAX).
One recent attempt at defining the elements to be included in a "Cloud Facts Label" has been the efforts of the Open Data Center Alliance (ODCA) with draft a "usage model" for Standard Units of Measure (SUoM). The organization also chartered a proof of concept (POC) to illustrate how SUoM can be applied in real life (click here to download the report in PDF format).
However, the food industry probably had similar concerns. Like the illustrative food Nutrition Facts label below, you can imagine a Cloud Facts label highlighting the top 20 or so characteristics of an IaaS offering in a standardized way for consumers to compare and contrast.
Why It's Hard to Do and Is Going to Require Industry Collaboration
Among the first things the ODCA learned in the POC was that it is really difficult to be the first to try to establish standard units of measure (SUoM) for the cloud. To quote the report:
"Achieving equivalent environments across different cloud services proved more difficult and time-consuming than the PoC team anticipated. ... We did not find an easy method to incrementally adjust memory, processor, or network options to tune the CIaaS platform resources and achieve desired application performance."
When comparing fairly standard competitors such as Rackspace and Amazon, there were still differences in memory, virtual CPUs and how they were packaged.
IaaS buyers should have a set of agreed-upon standard units of measure upon purchase and ways to verify those metrics after purchase, so they can assess whether they are, in fact, continuing to receive what they've paid for. A standardize measurement and disclosure would take care of the purchase decisions and companies like Appnomic provide systems to help address ongoing performance measurement and management.
How Do We Make the Cloud Facts Label Happen?
It is becoming increasingly clear that the industry as a whole needs to take action. In this regard, it may be instructive to examine how other industries dealt with the issue of setting standards.
In the auto industry, safety and disclosure issues came to a head in 1958 when the Automobile Information Disclosure Act of 1958 was passed by the US congress. Ultimately, disclosure labels were required on all automobiles sold in the United States.
Since that time, the top twelve auto manufacturers came together to form the Auto Alliance, because they realized that the alternative was more government intervention, and that "constantly shifting government rules create manufacturing chaos, ultimately raising costs to consumers."
In 2006, to fight security breaches in the credit card industry, the top credit card issuing companies formed the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council and established the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). While still a work in process given all the recent breaches, at least that industry has taken action to get in front of the issues and to establish security and prevention standards to help prevent fraud.
Most of us are familiar with websites that make it easy to compare personal computers by listing in table format the CPU size, monitor screen size, RAM, storage, etc., included in a computer.
The cloud industry could refer to any of these models to choose how to proceed. By not choosing, it's certainly reasonable that government intervention may be the outcome. While the risk is not the health of our citizens as with the food industry, there are various obvious concerns with the current situation should it continue or get exacerbated.
What's in It for You, for All of Us . . .
The service providers argue that they should continue selling their customers a "black box" version of cloud infrastructure and not worry about what's inside. They say that is the value of cloud computing in the first place. Users should not worry about what's inside and leave that to the experts.
The problem with this view is that it only really addresses a "sunny day scenario" when cloud operations work. What happens when things go wrong? How does the IaaS user hold the service provider accountable? How does the service provider protect their own interests? What happens when that first service provider starts over provisioning, under delivering, crashes customers' applications, goes out of business and leaves customers hanging?
Aside from these dire possible outcomes, it's just good business to know what you are buying and to be able to compare. This characteristic of US industries is part of what makes our global competitiveness and intense drive for excellence result in a strong economy.
Needless to say, as a long-term strategy for credibility, deeper market penetration, and industry sustainability, the current situation is not a viable option.
The end benefits of developing SUoMs for cloud infrastructure are many:
- The increased transparency will empower customers to better understand and trust what they are purchasing.
- The research phase of the sales cycle will be shortened as customers will have easier-to-understand benchmarks to help guide them.
- Application performance on IaaS platforms will perform better and will get to better performance faster as illustrated by the ODCA POC results.
- The SUoMs will provide a clear upgrade path, leading to more well-defined tiers of service and more sales, faster than is possible now.
By implementing a Cloud Facts label, the industry will grow the overall industry pie and while pie may not be the most nutritious food, it sure is a great dessert!
The buzz continues for cloud, data analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT) and their collective impact across all industries. But a new conversation is emerging - how do companies use industry disruption and technology enablers to lead in markets undergoing change, uncertainty and ambiguity? Organizations of all sizes need to evolve and transform, often under massive pressure, as industry lines blur and merge and traditional business models are assaulted and turned upside down. In this new da...
Oct. 9, 2015 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 295
Containers have changed the mind of IT in DevOps. They enable developers to work with dev, test, stage and production environments identically. Containers provide the right abstraction for microservices and many cloud platforms have integrated them into deployment pipelines. DevOps and containers together help companies achieve their business goals faster and more effectively. In his session at DevOps Summit, Ruslan Synytsky, CEO and Co-founder of Jelastic, will review the current landscape of...
Oct. 9, 2015 02:00 PM EDT
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data...
Oct. 9, 2015 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 228
Today’s connected world is moving from devices towards things, what this means is that by using increasingly low cost sensors embedded in devices we can create many new use cases. These span across use cases in cities, vehicles, home, offices, factories, retail environments, worksites, health, logistics, and health. These use cases rely on ubiquitous connectivity and generate massive amounts of data at scale. These technologies enable new business opportunities, ways to optimize and automate, al...
Oct. 9, 2015 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 181
Too often with compelling new technologies market participants become overly enamored with that attractiveness of the technology and neglect underlying business drivers. This tendency, what some call the “newest shiny object syndrome,” is understandable given that virtually all of us are heavily engaged in technology. But it is also mistaken. Without concrete business cases driving its deployment, IoT, like many other technologies before it, will fade into obscurity.
Oct. 9, 2015 01:45 PM EDT Reads: 125
The IoT is upon us, but today’s databases, built on 30-year-old math, require multiple platforms to create a single solution. Data demands of the IoT require Big Data systems that can handle ingest, transactions and analytics concurrently adapting to varied situations as they occur, with speed at scale. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chad Jones, chief strategy officer at Deep Information Sciences, will look differently at IoT data so enterprises can fully leverage their IoT potential. He’ll sha...
Oct. 9, 2015 01:45 PM EDT Reads: 558
Today air travel is a minefield of delays, hassles and customer disappointment. Airlines struggle to revitalize the experience. GE and M2Mi will demonstrate practical examples of how IoT solutions are helping airlines bring back personalization, reduce trip time and improve reliability. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect with GE, and Dr. Sarah Cooper, M2Mi's VP Business Development and Engineering, will explore the IoT cloud-based platform technologies driv...
Oct. 9, 2015 01:45 PM EDT
DevOps has often been described in terms of CAMS: Culture, Automation, Measuring, Sharing. While we’ve seen a lot of focus on the “A” and even on the “M”, there are very few examples of why the “C" is equally important in the DevOps equation. In her session at @DevOps Summit, Lori MacVittie, of F5 Networks, will explore HTTP/1 and HTTP/2 along with Microservices to illustrate why a collaborative culture between Dev, Ops, and the Network is critical to ensuring success.
Oct. 9, 2015 01:30 PM EDT Reads: 166
There are many considerations when moving applications from on-premise to cloud. It is critical to understand the benefits and also challenges of this migration. A successful migration will result in lower Total Cost of Ownership, yet offer the same or higher level of robustness. Migration to cloud shifts computing resources from your data center, which can yield significant advantages provided that the cloud vendor an offer enterprise-grade quality for your application.
Oct. 9, 2015 01:30 PM EDT Reads: 261
Overgrown applications have given way to modular applications, driven by the need to break larger problems into smaller problems. Similarly large monolithic development processes have been forced to be broken into smaller agile development cycles. Looking at trends in software development, microservices architectures meet the same demands. Additional benefits of microservices architectures are compartmentalization and a limited impact of service failure versus a complete software malfunction....
Oct. 9, 2015 01:15 PM EDT Reads: 245
There will be 20 billion IoT devices connected to the Internet soon. What if we could control these devices with our voice, mind, or gestures? What if we could teach these devices how to talk to each other? What if these devices could learn how to interact with us (and each other) to make our lives better? What if Jarvis was real? How can I gain these super powers? In his session at 17th Cloud Expo, Chris Matthieu, co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, will show you!
Oct. 9, 2015 01:15 PM EDT
As a CIO, are your direct reports IT managers or are they IT leaders? The hard truth is that many IT managers have risen through the ranks based on their technical skills, not their leadership ability. Many are unable to effectively engage and inspire, creating forward momentum in the direction of desired change. Renowned for its approach to leadership and emphasis on their people, organizations increasingly look to our military for insight into these challenges.
Oct. 9, 2015 01:15 PM EDT Reads: 135
For almost two decades, businesses have discovered great opportunities to engage with customers and even expand revenue through digital systems, including web and mobile applications. Yet, even now, the conversation between the business and the technologists that deliver these systems is strained, in large part due to misaligned objectives. In his session at DevOps Summit, James Urquhart, Senior Vice President of Performance Analytics at SOASTA, Inc., will discuss how measuring user outcomes –...
Oct. 9, 2015 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 455
As a company adopts a DevOps approach to software development, what are key things that both the Dev and Ops side of the business must keep in mind to ensure effective continuous delivery? In his session at DevOps Summit, Mark Hydar, Head of DevOps, Ericsson TV Platforms, will share best practices and provide helpful tips for Ops teams to adopt an open line of communication with the development side of the house to ensure success between the two sides.
Oct. 9, 2015 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 592
SYS-CON Events announced today that ProfitBricks, the provider of painless cloud infrastructure, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. ProfitBricks is the IaaS provider that offers a painless cloud experience for all IT users, with no learning curve. ProfitBricks boasts flexible cloud servers and networking, an integrated Data Center Designer tool for visual control over the...
Oct. 9, 2015 01:00 PM EDT Reads: 781