Click here to close now.


Agile Computing Authors: Peter Silva, Jayaram Krishnaswamy, Carmen Gonzalez, Pat Romanski, Xenia von Wedel

Related Topics: Containers Expo Blog, Microservices Expo, @CloudExpo

Containers Expo Blog: Interview

Cloud Computing: Creating a Functioning Market for Capacity

An exclusive Q&A with CiRBA CTO & Co-Founder Andrew Hillier

"Cloud puts control back in the hands of the consumers," noted Andrew Hillier, CTO and co-founder of CiRBA, in this exclusive Q&A with Cloud Expo Conference Chair Jeremy Geelan. "Cloud computing creates a functioning market for capacity, it gives consumers choices," Hillier continued. "This forces everyone to sharpen their game, from Cloud providers to outsourcers to internal IT. As such, Cloud computing is more of a shift in business model than it is a technology change, and this is what makes it truly different."

Cloud Computing: A very general question first, about Cloud Computing itself: Surely we've heard all of this before in various forms and guises - grid computing / utility computing, etc.? What is different this time - why is everyone so convinced it will now work?

Andrew Hillier: What is different this time is the way Cloud puts control back in the hands of the consumers. If we rewind a couple of decades, the early days of "open systems" were hugely empowering to business groups. If they wanted to deploy a new app they simply purchased some servers and found some suitable space (under a desk would do). Although empowering, this wasn't optimal, and in response to the mess this created, there was a shift in the '90s to more centralized IT management. Although this was very necessary, this also introduced more centralized procurement of hardware, which took some control away from the business groups.

The move toward virtualization in the last decade partially reversed some of the negative effects of this. The one-box-per-app mentality was shattered and much higher utilization and efficiency was made possible. Also, procurement times were shortened by allowing VMs to be spun up on hardware that is already on the floor. But what virtualization did not do is put control back in the hands of the business groups. The main beneficiaries of virtualization are the infrastructure groups, and application owners must still go through them to gain access to new capacity.

Cloud computing brings this cycle full circle, by re-empowering the users of capacity with the ability to get what they need when they need it. This takes them back to the place they were two decades ago, only now they don't stub their toes on the servers under their desks. And because Cloud computing creates a functioning market for capacity, it gives consumers choices. This forces everyone to sharpen their game, from Cloud providers to outsourcers to internal IT. As such, Cloud computing is more of a shift in business model than it is a technology change, and this is what makes it truly different.

Cloud Computing: What are the three main factors driving companies toward the cloud?

Hillier: Ultimately, there is a desire in many organizations to get out of the business of running data centers. Depending on the nature of the organization, this may be impractical, but simplification and driving efficiencies of scale are worthwhile goals, even if they mean you are still in the business of hosting workloads. This is why hybrid Cloud is a common goal.

Until such massive changes in business models are possible, the medium-term goal is often to establish truly shared internal environments, where standardization is the rule, not the exception, and application owners need to justify why they need different hosting strategies or non-standard configurations. This is something rarely achieved through virtualization alone; although it enables sharing, it does not intrinsically drive standardization, and it may not safely support diverse consumers sharing common resources.

Even this may take some time to achieve, and in the short term the goal is often simply to streamline the process of provisioning users with the capacity they need. Being an intermediary between users and their capacity is not a valuable use of an IT organization's time, and enabling users to help themselves will free up valuable resources so they can focus on managing the infrastructure, not the users.

Cloud Computing: And what are the three main barriers preventing some companies from moving some of the on-premise computing to the Cloud?

Hillier: Data centers are full of constraints, and these do not simply disappear when Clouds are introduced. This is the reason hybrid Clouds exist, and it may not be possible to host workloads on external capacity for certain types of applications. Some of the most common barriers to moving to external public Clouds include:

  • Data Sensitivity - it is unwise to take liberties with sensitive data, and applications containing trade secrets, customer information or other sensitive data need to be treated very carefully. Even if the security of such data is protected through a Cloud provider's legal agreements, the damages caused by breaches can go well beyond any legal recourse available.
  • Availability Requirements - many transactional applications require very high availability, and are hosted on highly resilient server infrastructure. Virtual and Cloud environments often provide some form of high availability, but it may not guarantee the level required, and is often achieved through more of a "fail and reboot" method than true resiliency. This works better for stateless components than it does for stateful ones, which may require platforms that do not fail, not ones that can be rebooted quickly.
  • Business Acceptance - even if external capacity is technically suitable, it may not be politically acceptable. There are often business considerations that trump technical ideals, and the concerns of business groups are very important (they are, after all, the ones making the money).

Cloud Computing: How does your own company's offering/s assist CIOs and organizations/companies?

Hillier: When building Cloud infrastructure, there are many components that need to come together. There is a provisioning and orchestration component, which is like the arms and legs of the Cloud. There must be a way to enter requirements, and to monitor and report back on use, which forms the eyes and ears of the Cloud. CiRBA is the brain, and works with all of these components to make sure workloads are routed to the right type of capacity, places on the right servers, and allocated the right resources. This enables a policy-based management approach, and provides intelligence that allows organizations to maximize efficiency and minimize operational risk. By ensuring environments are not over or under-provisioned, and by reporting the true efficiency of virtual and Cloud environments, it all runs like a well-oiled machine.

Cloud Computing: Are there other players in the Cloud ecosystem offering the same - or is your company unique? Why?

Hillier: Our company is unique, as it focuses on the intelligence behind the Cloud, thus optimizing efficiency while reducing risk. It uses multidimensional analysis to understand all the configuration, business and utilization constraints and solve them in a single model. This allows very sophisticated policies to be easily constructed, allowing precise control over areas such as:

  • Technical Compatibility
  • Business Compatibility
  • Utilization & Density Targets
  • Reservations & Over-commit
  • Trending & Growth Modeling
  • Performance & Availability
  • Security & Compliance
  • Location & Facilities
  • Tiering & Affinity

No other technology can do this.

Cloud Computing: We hear talk of a Cloud Revolution and also of a Cloud "evolution" - either way, what kind of time span are we talking about, do you think. In other words, for how long is Cloud Computing going to exert its pull on the minds, hearts, and budgets of all involved in modern-day Enterprise IT?

Hillier: I think it has legs - it is as much a way of thinking as it is a technology. Customers are now empowered to acquire their own capacity, and that will sharpen the game of internal IT groups and external infrastructure providers. Just like you can't unlearn something, you probably won't see thinking shift back to the captive, long procurement cycle IT model.

More Stories By Liz McMillan

News Desk compiles and publishes breaking news stories, press releases and latest news articles as they happen.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

@ThingsExpo Stories
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.
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 driving this change including privacy controls, data transparency and integration of real time context w...
Electric power utilities face relentless pressure on their financial performance, and reducing distribution grid losses is one of the last untapped opportunities to meet their business goals. Combining IoT-enabled sensors and cloud-based data analytics, utilities now are able to find, quantify and reduce losses faster – and with a smaller IT footprint. Solutions exist using Internet-enabled sensors deployed temporarily at strategic locations within the distribution grid to measure actual line loads.
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 data-driven world, marketplaces reign supreme while interoperability, APIs and applications deliver un...
The Internet of Everything is re-shaping technology trends–moving away from “request/response” architecture to an “always-on” Streaming Web where data is in constant motion and secure, reliable communication is an absolute necessity. As more and more THINGS go online, the challenges that developers will need to address will only increase exponentially. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Todd Greene, Founder & CEO of PubNub, will explore the current state of IoT connectivity and review key trends and technology requirements that will drive the Internet of Things from hype to reality.
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 shows "less than 10 percent of IoT developers are making enough to support a reasonably sized team....
You have your devices and your data, but what about the rest of your Internet of Things story? Two popular classes of technologies that nicely handle the Big Data analytics for Internet of Things are Apache Hadoop and NoSQL. Hadoop is designed for parallelizing analytical work across many servers and is ideal for the massive data volumes you create with IoT devices. NoSQL databases such as Apache HBase are ideal for storing and retrieving IoT data as “time series data.”
The IoT market is on track to hit $7.1 trillion in 2020. The reality is that only a handful of companies are ready for this massive demand. There are a lot of barriers, paint points, traps, and hidden roadblocks. How can we deal with these issues and challenges? The paradigm has changed. Old-style ad-hoc trial-and-error ways will certainly lead you to the dead end. What is mandatory is an overarching and adaptive approach to effectively handle the rapid changes and exponential growth.
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, along with new ways to engage with users.
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 share tips on how to speed up business initiatives, harness Big Data and remain one step ahead by apply...
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!
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.
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 cloud and the best price/performance value available. ProfitBricks was named one of the coolest Clo...
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM Cloud Data Services has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 17th Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. IBM Cloud Data Services offers a portfolio of integrated, best-of-breed cloud data services for developers focused on mobile computing and analytics use cases.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Sandy Carter, IBM General Manager Cloud Ecosystem and Developers, and a Social Business Evangelist, will keynote at the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Developing software for the Internet of Things (IoT) comes with its own set of challenges. Security, privacy, and unified standards are a few key issues. In addition, each IoT product is comprised of at least three separate application components: the software embedded in the device, the backend big-data service, and the mobile application for the end user's controls. Each component is developed by a different team, using different technologies and practices, and deployed to a different stack/target - this makes the integration of these separate pipelines and the coordination of software upd...
Mobile messaging has been a popular communication channel for more than 20 years. Finnish engineer Matti Makkonen invented the idea for SMS (Short Message Service) in 1984, making his vision a reality on December 3, 1992 by sending the first message ("Happy Christmas") from a PC to a cell phone. Since then, the technology has evolved immensely, from both a technology standpoint, and in our everyday uses for it. Originally used for person-to-person (P2P) communication, i.e., Sally sends a text message to Betty – mobile messaging now offers tremendous value to businesses for customer and empl...
"Matrix is an ambitious open standard and implementation that's set up to break down the fragmentation problems that exist in IP messaging and VoIP communication," explained John Woolf, Technical Evangelist at Matrix, in this interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
WebRTC converts the entire network into a ubiquitous communications cloud thereby connecting anytime, anywhere through any point. In his session at WebRTC Summit,, Mark Castleman, EIR at Bell Labs and Head of Future X Labs, will discuss how the transformational nature of communications is achieved through the democratizing force of WebRTC. WebRTC is doing for voice what HTML did for web content.
The broad selection of hardware, the rapid evolution of operating systems and the time-to-market for mobile apps has been so rapid that new challenges for developers and engineers arise every day. Security, testing, hosting, and other metrics have to be considered through the process. In his session at Big Data Expo, Walter Maguire, Chief Field Technologist, HP Big Data Group, at Hewlett-Packard, will discuss the challenges faced by developers and a composite Big Data applications builder, focusing on how to help solve the problems that developers are continuously battling.