Welcome!

Agile Computing Authors: Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, Progress Blog, John Worthington, APM Blog

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
A strange thing is happening along the way to the Internet of Things, namely far too many devices to work with and manage. It has become clear that we'll need much higher efficiency user experiences that can allow us to more easily and scalably work with the thousands of devices that will soon be in each of our lives. Enter the conversational interface revolution, combining bots we can literally talk with, gesture to, and even direct with our thoughts, with embedded artificial intelligence, whic...
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, discussed how from store operations and ...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Carl J. Levine, Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1, will objectively discuss how DNS is used to solve Digital Transformation challenges in large SaaS applications, CDNs, AdTech platforms, and other demanding use cases. Carl J. Levine is the Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1. A veteran of the Internet Infrastructure space, he has over a decade of experience with startups, networking protocols and Internet infrastructure, combined with the unique ability to it...
It is of utmost importance for the future success of WebRTC to ensure that interoperability is operational between web browsers and any WebRTC-compliant client. To be guaranteed as operational and effective, interoperability must be tested extensively by establishing WebRTC data and media connections between different web browsers running on different devices and operating systems. In his session at WebRTC Summit at @ThingsExpo, Dr. Alex Gouaillard, CEO and Founder of CoSMo Software, presented ...
Gemini is Yahoo’s native and search advertising platform. To ensure the quality of a complex distributed system that spans multiple products and components and across various desktop websites and mobile app and web experiences – both Yahoo owned and operated and third-party syndication (supply), with complex interaction with more than a billion users and numerous advertisers globally (demand) – it becomes imperative to automate a set of end-to-end tests 24x7 to detect bugs and regression. In th...
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"Cloud Academy is an enterprise training platform for the cloud, specifically public clouds. We offer guided learning experiences on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and all the surrounding methodologies and technologies that you need to know and your teams need to know in order to leverage the full benefits of the cloud," explained Alex Brower, VP of Marketing at Cloud Academy, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clar...
"MobiDev is a software development company and we do complex, custom software development for everybody from entrepreneurs to large enterprises," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CrowdReviews.com has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5–7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CrowdReviews.com is a transparent online platform for determining which products and services are the best based on the opinion of the crowd. The crowd consists of Internet users that have experienced products and services first-hand and have an interest in letting other potential buye...
"There's plenty of bandwidth out there but it's never in the right place. So what Cedexis does is uses data to work out the best pathways to get data from the origin to the person who wants to get it," explained Simon Jones, Evangelist and Head of Marketing at Cedexis, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
WebRTC is great technology to build your own communication tools. It will be even more exciting experience it with advanced devices, such as a 360 Camera, 360 microphone, and a depth sensor camera. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Masashi Ganeko, a manager at INFOCOM Corporation, introduced two experimental projects from his team and what they learned from them. "Shotoku Tamago" uses the robot audition software HARK to track speakers in 360 video of a remote party. "Virtual Teleport" uses a multip...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Evatronix will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Evatronix SA offers comprehensive solutions in the design and implementation of electronic systems, in CAD / CAM deployment, and also is a designer and manufacturer of advanced 3D scanners for professional applications.
Leading companies, from the Global Fortune 500 to the smallest companies, are adopting hybrid cloud as the path to business advantage. Hybrid cloud depends on cloud services and on-premises infrastructure working in unison. Successful implementations require new levels of data mobility, enabled by an automated and seamless flow across on-premises and cloud resources. In his general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Tevis, an IBM Storage Software Technical Strategist and Customer Solution Architec...
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Jack Norris, Senior Vice President, Data and Applications at MapR Technologies, reviewed best practices to ...
An increasing number of companies are creating products that combine data with analytical capabilities. Running interactive queries on Big Data requires complex architectures to store and query data effectively, typically involving data streams, an choosing efficient file format/database and multiple independent systems that are tied together through custom-engineered pipelines. In his session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Tomer Levi, a senior software engineer at Intel’s Advanced Analytics gr...
When talking IoT we often focus on the devices, the sensors, the hardware itself. The new smart appliances, the new smart or self-driving cars (which are amalgamations of many ‘things’). When we are looking at the world of IoT, we should take a step back, look at the big picture. What value are these devices providing? IoT is not about the devices, it’s about the data consumed and generated. The devices are tools, mechanisms, conduits. In his session at Internet of Things at Cloud Expo | DXWor...
Everything run by electricity will eventually be connected to the Internet. Get ahead of the Internet of Things revolution. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Akvelon expert and IoT industry leader Sergey Grebnov provided an educational dive into the world of managing your home, workplace and all the devices they contain with the power of machine-based AI and intelligent Bot services for a completely streamlined experience.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Synametrics Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Synametrics Technologies is a privately held company based in Plainsboro, New Jersey that has been providing solutions for the developer community since 1997. Based on the success of its initial product offerings such as WinSQL, Xeams, SynaMan and Syncrify, Synametrics continues to create and hone inn...