Welcome!

Agile Computing Authors: Igor Drobiazko, Tim Hinds, Dan Sarel, John Basso, Derek Weeks

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
Increasing IoT connectivity is forcing enterprises to find elegant solutions to organize and visualize all incoming data from these connected devices with re-configurable dashboard widgets to effectively allow rapid decision-making for everything from immediate actions in tactical situations to strategic analysis and reporting. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Shikhir Singh, Senior Developer Relations Manager at Sencha, will discuss how to create HTML5 dashboards that interact with IoT devic...
Artificial Intelligence has the potential to massively disrupt IoT. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, AJ Abdallat, CEO of Beyond AI, will discuss what the five main drivers are in Artificial Intelligence that could shape the future of the Internet of Things. AJ Abdallat is CEO of Beyond AI. He has over 20 years of management experience in the fields of artificial intelligence, sensors, instruments, devices and software for telecommunications, life sciences, environmental monitoring, process...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Peak 10, Inc., a national IT infrastructure and cloud services provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Peak 10 provides reliable, tailored data center and network services, cloud and managed services. Its solutions are designed to scale and adapt to customers’ changing business needs, enabling them to lower costs, improve performance and focus inter...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ericsson has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Ericsson is a world leader in the rapidly changing environment of communications technology – providing equipment, software and services to enable transformation through mobility. Some 40 percent of global mobile traffic runs through networks we have supplied. More than 1 billion subscribers around the world re...
There is an ever-growing explosion of new devices that are connected to the Internet using “cloud” solutions. This rapid growth is creating a massive new demand for efficient access to data. And it’s not just about connecting to that data anymore. This new demand is bringing new issues and challenges and it is important for companies to scale for the coming growth. And with that scaling comes the need for greater security, gathering and data analysis, storage, connectivity and, of course, the...
SYS-CON Events announced today that DatacenterDynamics has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. DatacenterDynamics is a brand of DCD Group, a global B2B media and publishing company that develops products to help senior professionals in the world's most ICT dependent organizations make risk-based infrastructure and capacity decisions.
You think you know what’s in your data. But do you? Most organizations are now aware of the business intelligence represented by their data. Data science stands to take this to a level you never thought of – literally. The techniques of data science, when used with the capabilities of Big Data technologies, can make connections you had not yet imagined, helping you discover new insights and ask new questions of your data. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sarbjit Sarkaria, data science team lead ...
So, you bought into the current machine learning craze and went on to collect millions/billions of records from this promising new data source. Now, what do you do with them? Too often, the abundance of data quickly turns into an abundance of problems. How do you extract that "magic essence" from your data without falling into the common pitfalls? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Natalia Ponomareva, Software Engineer at Google, will provide tips on how to be successful in large scale machine lear...
In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Klein, CEO and Co-founder of Rachio, will discuss next generation communities that are using IoT to create more sustainable, intelligent communities. One example is Sterling Ranch, a 10,000 home development that – with the help of Siemens – will integrate IoT technology into the community to provide residents with energy and water savings as well as intelligent security. Everything from stop lights to sprinkler systems to building infrastructures will run ef...
Whether your IoT service is connecting cars, homes, appliances, wearable, cameras or other devices, one question hangs in the balance – how do you actually make money from this service? The ability to turn your IoT service into profit requires the ability to create a monetization strategy that is flexible, scalable and working for you in real-time. It must be a transparent, smoothly implemented strategy that all stakeholders – from customers to the board – will be able to understand and comprehe...
Machine Learning helps make complex systems more efficient. By applying advanced Machine Learning techniques such as Cognitive Fingerprinting, wind project operators can utilize these tools to learn from collected data, detect regular patterns, and optimize their own operations. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Stuart Gillen, Director of Business Development at SparkCognition, will discuss how research has demonstrated the value of Machine Learning in delivering next generation analytics to im...
This is not a small hotel event. It is also not a big vendor party where politicians and entertainers are more important than real content. This is Cloud Expo, the world's longest-running conference and exhibition focused on Cloud Computing and all that it entails. If you want serious presentations and valuable insight about Cloud Computing for three straight days, then register now for Cloud Expo.
IoT device adoption is growing at staggering rates, and with it comes opportunity for developers to meet consumer demand for an ever more connected world. Wireless communication is the key part of the encompassing components of any IoT device. Wireless connectivity enhances the device utility at the expense of ease of use and deployment challenges. Since connectivity is fundamental for IoT device development, engineers must understand how to overcome the hurdles inherent in incorporating multipl...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Stratoscale, the software company developing the next generation data center operating system, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Stratoscale is revolutionizing the data center with a zero-to-cloud-in-minutes solution. With Stratoscale’s hardware-agnostic, Software Defined Data Center (SDDC) solution to store everything, run anything and scale everywhere...
The increasing popularity of the Internet of Things necessitates that our physical and cognitive relationship with wearable technology will change rapidly in the near future. This advent means logging has become a thing of the past. Before, it was on us to track our own data, but now that data is automatically available. What does this mean for mHealth and the "connected" body? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Lisa Calkins, CEO and co-founder of Amadeus Consulting, will discuss the impact of wea...
Angular 2 is a complete re-write of the popular framework AngularJS. Programming in Angular 2 is greatly simplified – now it's a component-based well-performing framework. This immersive one-day workshop at 18th Cloud Expo, led by Yakov Fain, a Java Champion and a co-founder of the IT consultancy Farata Systems and the product company SuranceBay, will provide you with everything you wanted to know about Angular 2.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Men & Mice, the leading global provider of DNS, DHCP and IP address management overlay solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. The Men & Mice Suite overlay solution is already known for its powerful application in heterogeneous operating environments, enabling enterprises to scale without fuss. Building on a solid range of diverse platform support,...
You deployed your app with the Bluemix PaaS and it's gaining some serious traction, so it's time to make some tweaks. Did you design your application in a way that it can scale in the cloud? Were you even thinking about the cloud when you built the app? If not, chances are your app is going to break. Check out this webcast to learn various techniques for designing applications that will scale successfully in Bluemix, for the confidence you need to take your apps to the next level and beyond.
We’ve worked with dozens of early adopters across numerous industries and will debunk common misperceptions, which starts with understanding that many of the connected products we’ll use over the next 5 years are already products, they’re just not yet connected. With an IoT product, time-in-market provides much more essential feedback than ever before. Innovation comes from what you do with the data that the connected product provides in order to enhance the customer experience and optimize busi...
Digital payments using wearable devices such as smart watches, fitness trackers, and payment wristbands are an increasing area of focus for industry participants, and consumer acceptance from early trials and deployments has encouraged some of the biggest names in technology and banking to continue their push to drive growth in this nascent market. Wearable payment systems may utilize near field communication (NFC), radio frequency identification (RFID), or quick response (QR) codes and barcodes...