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Earlier this week VMware introduced Cloud Foundry, an Open Platform as a Service (PaaS) hosted by VMware and will be made available to service provider partners and customers, enabling them to host their on Open PaaS.
Cloud Foundry provides a PaaS implementation that offers developers choice:
- Choice of developer frameworks,
- Choice of application infrastructure services, and
- Choice of clouds to which to deploy applications
This PaaS is different from other people’s PaaS offerings that restrict developers to a specific or non-standard development framework, a limited set of application services or a single, vendor-operated cloud service; things that raises issues of lock-in by inhibiting application portability.
Instead, Cloud Foundry supports, or will support, frameworks like Spring for Java, Ruby on Rails, Sinatra for Ruby, Node.js and Grails with others promised in fairly short order. And for application services, it will initially support the open source NoSQL MongoDB, MySQL and Redis databases with plans to add VMware’s own vFabric services, the application platform in vCloud, as well as the RabbitMQ messaging system, another VMware property.
Whats really interesting is that VMware has rolled out their CloudFoundry service as an open source project! An entire PaaS platform, which they will also offer as a hosted service, but also available for anyone to run within their own company or datacenter!
Coming real soon, VMware plans to produce the Cloud Foundry Micro Cloud, a free, complete, downloadable instance of Cloud Foundry that runs in a single virtual machine developers can use on their own laptop to ensure that “applications running locally will also run in production without modification on any Cloud Foundry-based private or public cloud.” Down the road, the plan is to provide a commercial Cloud Foundry for enterprises that want to offer PaaS capabilities in their own private cloud and service providers that want to offer Cloud Foundry via their public cloud services. Enterprises should then be able to integrate the PaaS environment with their application infrastructure services portfolio and service providers hybrid cloud environments.
I, as many others, have talked/blogged about what cloud is (as it evolves) and have briefly visited the value and economics of cloud recently. But I want to revisit why cloud computing is important to enterprise IT, and specifically why it enables IT to better deliver to the Line of Business.
If you step back and think about why cloud based services, like Gmail, Microsoft Online Services, Salesforce.com, Amazon Web Services, etc., are becoming increasingly more relevant to the business user, there are several compelling benefits that business gain from cloud based services. Among them – resource pooling thru shared compute and storage services, scalable and elastic resources to quickly react to increases in demand, as well as self-service. This last one is a big one! Business users want agility to respond to the demands of business. Traditional IT has not been able to respond as quickly to business demands would require, and cloud computing can deliver this and more to the CIO.
Today’s IT organizations need to increase their ability and capability to respond to business thru agility, while reducing costs. Additionally, while enabling this agility, they need to manage the corporate assets and corporate IP while maintaining a compliant and secure infrastructure. Not everything can move to the Public Cloud, so its driving them to build out their own Private Clouds that come with some of the same benefits and capabilities as that consumers and lines of business seek from the public cloud.
IT is optimizing their existing IT infrastructure investments, their virtualized data center, to enable resource pooling, automation, elastic compute and storage services, and finally self-service to the line of business with a Private Cloud.
Topics to come – Hybrid Cloud, a new breed of business applications for the cloud, and end user computing!
How did I get here? What led me to walk away from the hot team at Microsoft – Windows Azure, and even more interesting, leave Microsoft after 9+ years.
First, its important to note that most of the 9 years I spent at Microsoft were incredibly rewarding. I worked with some really smart and good people. And Microsoft is indeed a great company to work for.
So why leave? Well, first I need to get something off my chest – let me start with Innovation and R&D. Every year for the last 9 years, Microsoft executives remind all the employees, customers, partners, the world that they spend between $6 – 8 billion in R&D annually! Really? Now, I am not implying that there is a lack of innovation going on in the mildew forest (redmond); there are some really cool things like XBOX Live, Surface, .Net, Windows Azure, Live Mesh. But lets face it, Windows XP to Vista to Windows 7 (a Vista SP) over 9 years was not very innovative – especially now that I am using OS X! Windows Mobile Phone strategy? Search? Over $60 billion in R&D over 9 years – I can probably come up with a list 10 startups that had less then $300 million in funding in total that are more relevant today and innovative. …OK. I feel better now.
I mentioned being on the hot Windows Azure team, as well as listing it as innovative, and I still think there is some really cool technology there. Some of the best innovation in the last 9 years at Microsoft. Public PaaS Cloud is certainly innovative, interesting and very relevant to future deployment scenarios (not all, but some). But I started to question the overall “cloud” strategy and approach. I really think Azure technology should have first been introduced as a private cloud (on – premise) platform, enabling enterprises to build on their virtualization footing, and start with customized private PaaS. Then compliment that with a Public PaaS strategy that included ISPs and Partners and enable hybrid cloud scenarios. Instead, its sort of a huge leap for most enterprises to think about what workloads to build onto this primarily new and proprietary platform running in Microsoft Data Centers, and have a completely different perspective and approach to cloud patterns on-premise. Sorry, its not Hyper-V and Windows Server.
Then there is Ray Ozzie’s departure (not to mention all the other executives leaving to this day). Ozzie was the new Bill Gates at Microsoft. The “architect” of the new Microsoft and leading the transformation and vision for the cloud – the driving force and vision behind Azure. All of a sudden, while on the Azure team and coming to, Ozzie resigns! And then Ozzie writes his “Dawn of a New Day” . As I wrote in my blog post regarding the memo – Its a very interesting read and as one of my colleagues tweeted; “Shut the door, turn off your phone and read Ray Ozzie’s Dawn of a New Day” .
Anyway – my Azure bubble was popped. I was no longer a believer, nor passionate about the direction. There were other things that I wont go into, and there were also things that made me want to stick around – mostly some good people. I will absolutely treasure some of the work and people I was fortunate to work with – some of who are still at Microsoft. Keep up the good work!!!
I have found a renewed love for something from Microsoft that runs on the Mac – MacOffice 2011. Now, we just need OneNote on the Mac.
I am finding an incredibly rich, innovative, and very relevant approach and strategy at my new gig! With some incredibly compelling dialogue with enterprises regarding cloud. More on that on that later….
I have written about cloud computing and specifically Azure Services Platform several times in the past. As we approach the market release of Azure Services Platform (Microsoft’s Windows cloud platform as a service) I thought it might be a good time to step back and write about the business value of cloud computing.
Why Cloud Computing?
Cloud computing is the new computing platform shift. The cloud is really just a metaphor for the Internet and is an abstraction for the complex infrastructure it runs on. It is a style of computing in which users (and developers) access technology-enabled services from the Internet without the knowledge of, or control over the technology infrastructure that supports these services. Its built on technology, but it really comes down to a new operational model (more about that below).
Enterprises are interested in Cloud computing because it comes with several potential benefits. The Pay-As-You-Use consumption model can now be applied to IT – to both the hardware (IaaS – Infrastructure as a Service) and, perhaps even more interestingly, to the business applications themselves(SaaS – Software as a Service & PaaS – Platform as a Service). Cloud computing transfers the traditional capital expenditure (CapEx) model common in data centers today to an operational expenditure (OpEx) model. Cloud Services like Azure Services Platform and Microsoft Online Services allow CIOs and CFOs to control costs more effectively through these cloud computing service offerings.
Additionally, for business software ISVs (Independent Software Vendor), Cloud computing is a potential new distribution channel for their applications. Building business software for the cloud allows them to hook into new business models, like subscription, transaction or even ad-based revenue models. It is clear that the concept of cloud computing is gaining traction and provides unique benefits. The flexibility of an access-anywhere, highly scalable, pay-as-you-go computing model has benefits for both vendors and clients.
With the Azure Services Platform, businesses are enabled to develop and deploy critical and non-critical applications with a higher performance/price ratio by running them on Microsoft’s platform data centers on a pay–as-you-go basis. Whether you are building new applications, augmenting / cloud enabling existing systems, or connecting with trading partners, you can take advantage of the Azure Services Platform to do it quickly, inexpensively, and across the Web and a range of connected devices. For ISVs, they can take advantage of the Azure Services Platform to deliver software as a service without having to maintain data centers or build new capabilities on existing investments in on-premises applications, while leveraging the same Microsoft development tools and technologies they are familiar with.
CFOs will care about Cloud Computing and Azure Services Platform.
Enterprises have grown increasingly comfortable with Pay-As-You-Use methods of consuming business and computer services. Decisions to go this route are often made (or greatly influenced) by the CFO, not the CIO, and are largely based on cost control and the ability to translate CapEx into OpEx that look better on a balance sheet.
The ability to pay for services based on usage, and for the provision of those services to be very scalable (‘elastic’) so as to increase and decrease with that usage, ensures minimal waste and redundancy. Also, the ability to scale in support of new product and service offerings or geographic expansion provides “cash-flow-friendly” ways to increase resource availability. This ability to commission additional capacity without significant capital outlay is particularly attractive to CFOs and especially in difficult economic conditions where upfront funding is harder to obtain.
The ability to apply Cloud economics to core enterprise applications provides new ways for CFOs and CIOs to optimize and boost the cost efficiency of IT service delivery.
Cloud Computing is an Operational Model
What makes cloud computing cloud computing is the fact that the physical resources used are operated to deliver abstracted IT resources “on-demand,” at scale, and usually in a multi-tenant environment. It is how you use the technologies involved that matters most. For the most part, cloud computing uses the same operating systems, management software, middleware, databases, server platforms, network cabling, storage arrays, and so on, that we have become familiar with in enterprise IT. Sure, Azure Services Platform, Google App Engine, Amazon EC2, and others, have different technologies and IP implemented, but in the end, its not significantly different than what enterprise IT is familiar with. Its the scale and elasticity, and the pay–as-you-go model that makes the difference. The combination of on-demand, at scale, in a multi-tenant infrastructure is the reason why cloud computing is disruptive today, rather than just another technology fad!
Azure Services Platform
Microsoft’s Azure Services Platform is an internet-scale cloud services platform hosted in Microsoft data centers, which provides an operating system and a set of developer services that can be used individually or together. Azure’s flexible and interoperable platform can be used to build new applications to run from the cloud or enhance existing applications with cloud-based capabilities. Azure offers a range of flexibility, control, and is an affordable solution for running Web-scale applications. The services reduce tedious and expensive infrastructure management and planning and are built with security and reliability in mind, along with the option of a pay-as-you-go model.
You can learn more here.