Welcome!

Web 2.0 Authors: Victoria Livschitz, Lori MacVittie, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Larry Dragich

Related Topics: Virtualization, SOA & WOA, Cloud Expo

Virtualization: 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
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
Cultural, regulatory, environmental, political and economic (CREPE) conditions over the past decade are creating cross-industry solution spaces that require processes and technologies from both the Internet of Things (IoT), and Data Management and Analytics (DMA). These solution spaces are evolving into Sensor Analytics Ecosystems (SAE) that represent significant new opportunities for organizations of all types. Public Utilities throughout the world, providing electricity, natural gas and water, are pursuing SmartGrid initiatives that represent one of the more mature examples of SAE. We have s...
The security devil is always in the details of the attack: the ones you've endured, the ones you prepare yourself to fend off, and the ones that, you fear, will catch you completely unaware and defenseless. The Internet of Things (IoT) is nothing if not an endless proliferation of details. It's the vision of a world in which continuous Internet connectivity and addressability is embedded into a growing range of human artifacts, into the natural world, and even into our smartphones, appliances, and physical persons. In the IoT vision, every new "thing" - sensor, actuator, data source, data con...
How do APIs and IoT relate? The answer is not as simple as merely adding an API on top of a dumb device, but rather about understanding the architectural patterns for implementing an IoT fabric. There are typically two or three trends: Exposing the device to a management framework Exposing that management framework to a business centric logic Exposing that business layer and data to end users. This last trend is the IoT stack, which involves a new shift in the separation of what stuff happens, where data lives and where the interface lies. For instance, it's a mix of architectural styles ...
The Internet of Things is tied together with a thin strand that is known as time. Coincidentally, at the core of nearly all data analytics is a timestamp. When working with time series data there are a few core principles that everyone should consider, especially across datasets where time is the common boundary. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Scott, Director of Enterprise Strategy & Architecture at MapR Technologies, discussed single-value, geo-spatial, and log time series data. By focusing on enterprise applications and the data center, he will use OpenTSDB as an example t...
An entirely new security model is needed for the Internet of Things, or is it? Can we save some old and tested controls for this new and different environment? In his session at @ThingsExpo, New York's at the Javits Center, Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, reviewed hands-on lessons with IoT devices and reveal a new risk balance you might not expect. Davi Ottenheimer, EMC Senior Director of Trust, has more than nineteen years' experience managing global security operations and assessments, including a decade of leading incident response and digital forensics. He is co-author of t...
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, discussed how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money!
The Internet of Things will put IT to its ultimate test by creating infinite new opportunities to digitize products and services, generate and analyze new data to improve customer satisfaction, and discover new ways to gain a competitive advantage across nearly every industry. In order to help corporate business units to capitalize on the rapidly evolving IoT opportunities, IT must stand up to a new set of challenges. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Kaplan, Managing Director of THINKstrategies, will examine why IT must finally fulfill its role in support of its SBUs or face a new round of...
One of the biggest challenges when developing connected devices is identifying user value and delivering it through successful user experiences. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mike Kuniavsky, Principal Scientist, Innovation Services at PARC, described an IoT-specific approach to user experience design that combines approaches from interaction design, industrial design and service design to create experiences that go beyond simple connected gadgets to create lasting, multi-device experiences grounded in people's real needs and desires.
Enthusiasm for the Internet of Things has reached an all-time high. In 2013 alone, venture capitalists spent more than $1 billion dollars investing in the IoT space. With "smart" appliances and devices, IoT covers wearable smart devices, cloud services to hardware companies. Nest, a Google company, detects temperatures inside homes and automatically adjusts it by tracking its user's habit. These technologies are quickly developing and with it come challenges such as bridging infrastructure gaps, abiding by privacy concerns and making the concept a reality. These challenges can't be addressed w...
The Domain Name Service (DNS) is one of the most important components in networking infrastructure, enabling users and services to access applications by translating URLs (names) into IP addresses (numbers). Because every icon and URL and all embedded content on a website requires a DNS lookup loading complex sites necessitates hundreds of DNS queries. In addition, as more internet-enabled ‘Things' get connected, people will rely on DNS to name and find their fridges, toasters and toilets. According to a recent IDG Research Services Survey this rate of traffic will only grow. What's driving t...
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, examined three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective storage designed to handle the massive surge in back-end data in a world where timely analytics is e...
Scott Jenson leads a project called The Physical Web within the Chrome team at Google. Project members are working to take the scalability and openness of the web and use it to talk to the exponentially exploding range of smart devices. Nearly every company today working on the IoT comes up with the same basic solution: use my server and you'll be fine. But if we really believe there will be trillions of these devices, that just can't scale. We need a system that is open a scalable and by using the URL as a basic building block, we open this up and get the same resilience that the web enjoys.
We are reaching the end of the beginning with WebRTC, and real systems using this technology have begun to appear. One challenge that faces every WebRTC deployment (in some form or another) is identity management. For example, if you have an existing service – possibly built on a variety of different PaaS/SaaS offerings – and you want to add real-time communications you are faced with a challenge relating to user management, authentication, authorization, and validation. Service providers will want to use their existing identities, but these will have credentials already that are (hopefully) i...
"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 SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
P2P RTC will impact the landscape of communications, shifting from traditional telephony style communications models to OTT (Over-The-Top) cloud assisted & PaaS (Platform as a Service) communication services. The P2P shift will impact many areas of our lives, from mobile communication, human interactive web services, RTC and telephony infrastructure, user federation, security and privacy implications, business costs, and scalability. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robin Raymond, Chief Architect at Hookflash, will walk through the shifting landscape of traditional telephone and voice services ...
Explosive growth in connected devices. Enormous amounts of data for collection and analysis. Critical use of data for split-second decision making and actionable information. All three are factors in making the Internet of Things a reality. Yet, any one factor would have an IT organization pondering its infrastructure strategy. How should your organization enhance its IT framework to enable an Internet of Things implementation? In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, James Kirkland, Chief Architect for the Internet of Things and Intelligent Systems at Red Hat, described how to revolutioniz...
Bit6 today issued a challenge to the technology community implementing Web Real Time Communication (WebRTC). To leap beyond WebRTC’s significant limitations and fully leverage its underlying value to accelerate innovation, application developers need to consider the entire communications ecosystem.
The definition of IoT is not new, in fact it’s been around for over a decade. What has changed is the public's awareness that the technology we use on a daily basis has caught up on the vision of an always on, always connected world. If you look into the details of what comprises the IoT, you’ll see that it includes everything from cloud computing, Big Data analytics, “Things,” Web communication, applications, network, storage, etc. It is essentially including everything connected online from hardware to software, or as we like to say, it’s an Internet of many different things. The difference ...
Cloud Expo 2014 TV commercials will feature @ThingsExpo, which was launched in June, 2014 at New York City's Javits Center as the largest 'Internet of Things' event in the world.