The Cloud Computing Market Grows Up

Mark this date. While it isn't an anniversary of anything significant in the past, it is a day where our beloved cloud computing market showed significant signs of maturing. Major announcements by VMware, Citrix, and Microsoft all signaled significant progress in making cloud platforms (infrastructure-as-a-service [IaaS] and platform-as-a-service [PaaS]) more enterprise ready and consumable by I&O professionals.

* VMware updates its cloud stack. The server virtualization leader announced version 5 of its venerable hypervisor and version 1.5 of vCloud Director, its IaaS platform atop vSphere. Key enhancements to vCloud include more hardening of its security and resource allocation policy capabilities that address secure multitenancy concerns and elimination of the "noisy neighbor" problem, respectively. It also doubled the total capacity of VMs service providers can put in a single cloud to 20,000. VMware also resurrected a key feature from its now defunct Lab Manager — linked clones. This key capability for driving operational efficiency lets you deploy new VMs from the image library and the system will maintain the relationship between the golden image and the deployed VM. This does two things; it minimizes the storage footprint of the VM, much as similar technology does in virtual desktops, and second it uses the link to ensure clones maintain the patch level and integrity of the golden master. This alone is reason enough to consider vCloud Director.

To help both virtualization and cloud environments, VMware also made a significant change to its licensing model, moving away from CPU core entitlements (VMware will still count processor sockets, though) to pooled vRAM entitlements. This change ties licensing more to the use of the product and encourages greater VM consolidation as it counts VMs by size, rather than per physical server. This incents packing lots of VMs on a single system and even lets you share vRAM entitlements across physical systems to accommodate more seamless growth of your environment and management of the pool, a key operational change called out in our Virtualization Maturity Model. Basically, now you can entitle your virtual environment in total, based on its capacity, and fill it up as much as you want. This is much more consistent with their service provider pricing model; and if your goal is to build a private cloud, isn't that the point?

All in all, this shows that VMware gets it and is taking an active role in helping educate its customers that virtualization and cloud operations are two different things and making these distinctions clear is critical to their and your success. Well done, VMware.

* Citrix's acquisition of its OpenStack doppelganger, Cloud.com comes just months after Citrix announced its intention to commercialize an OpenStack solution for enterprises and service providers. Now they can stop that work. Cloud.com has successfully penetrated the service provider market with its OpenStack-based solution and racked up some solid wins in the enterprise to boot. This buy accelerates Citrix' IaaS efforts and gives solid financial backing to CloudStack. Sadly, though, it also reduces the number of commercial distributions of OpenStack by one.

Enterprise I&O pros should note that CloudStack is hypervisor agnostic, so this isn't a Xen-only play. And the synergies between CloudStack and the rest of its application and desktop virtualization portfolio aren't lost on the company or its service provider partners and prospects. Look to see more combined solutions that help you vend apps and desktops from a cloud in the future.

* Microsoft, here at its Worldwide Partner Conference in Los Angeles, stepped up its cloud game as well by showing the beta of System Center 2012, which adds a self-service portal for using Hyper-V as a private cloud platform and better orchestration for workload deployment. It also demonstrated new public cloud services from Boeing and General Mills plus a commissioned report by Forrester attesting to the differentiated economics of cloud platforms, something I talk about with CIOs in a report published this past spring.

For ISVs, Microsoft also announced commercial opportunities on Windows Azure for its massive software partner ecosystem. The Azure Marketplace can now vend commercial applications, meaning that any software application built for Windows (using the VMrole) or through Visual Studio (using the worker role) theoretically can be offered through Windows Azure as well.

Together, these announcements are strong milestones to the continuing progress and solid traction cloud platforms are having with the market. While the private cloud market is still very, very young, moves like these put it on more solid footing and should lead to expanded options for I&O professionals.

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Comments

What constitues maturation?

Not sure I agree that accessibility constitutes maturation, at least not in this day-and-age of computing. Accessibility/ease-of-adoption is only one aspect. I think, as a market, that cloud is in an opportunist stage. Companies like VMWare, MSFT, and others with significant capital leverage can buy their way into the opportunity that the cloud market represents. The easiest way to do that, obviously, is just to acquire companies.

Here's a link to a post I wrote about this:

http://blog.jasonthibeault.com/index.php/2011/07/12/the-cloud-is-growing...

J

What constitutes maturation to you?

I certainly agree that acquisitions are not signs of maturation but the progress VMware and Microsoft are making certainly are. Microsoft's adding new enterprise customer references at a feverish pace and now that its massive on-premise ecosystem has what it needs to move to Azure that is a significant sign of maturation. If we add in the customer gains Rackspace, Terremark and Force.com have shown and the momentum is clearly there. AWS, continues to gain customers and see customers use them more deeply. The fact that spot instances are becoming increasingly popular shows that customers are starting to move up the maturity curve on cloud economics as well (See report: http://www.forrester.com/rb/Research/three_stages_of_cloud_economics/q/i...). All of these signs in cumulation point to significant future for cloud platforms. Enterprises are running out of excuses for not using them.

New VMware licensing will discourage higher consolidation ratios

Agree, what a day! Nice snapshot of it!
Just one comment, VMware's new licensing (which unfortunately really took some of the headlines - rather than the impressive new feature set) surely DIScourages greater consolidation ratios since memory is taxed. increasing vm density was a great way to reduce cost per vm as you could run more vms for the same licensing cost and (almost) same HW cost. In the future I will have to rethink this as soon as I reach the vRAM threshold when scaling up as a new cost factor will be introduced at this point. Now I might still go ahead and do it but it certainly does not encourage me anymore....

How should they license?

Greatly appreciate your point of view of this. Any change in licensing has its winners and losers and this change is no exception. Do you have a suggestion for VMware (and their competitors) on how they could license more effectively? Acknowledging that they do need to make money, is there a better metric to use? If they kept the vRAM licensing how would you change it?

Great points regarding

Great points regarding challenges in cloud computing adoption. Just read an excellent article titled Do Your Homework Before You Select an IT Outsourcing Provider, http://bit.ly/oWigKp

Cloud

cloud computing was cited by more than one-third of CIOs as being among the most important. Minneapolis granite

The Cloud

The Internet is the Cloud... pure and simple. So, what's all the fuss, media hype, virtualization this and virtualization that... KISS applies.

Cloud Maturity needs of today @ Business

Infrastructure cloud maturity in my view is when,
a single (or) collection of cloud automation suites, perform the following:

1. Host a variety of platforms and hypervisors supporting at least basic infrastructure resources like
compute, storage, network and security
2. Automate their provisioning and de-provisioning needs
3. Track them not just for utilization, but enable [traceability & auditability] of all resources, against workload and identities
4. Plot workload performance benchmarks against infrastructure patterns, and grade workload by [Quality of Service]
5. Use derived Quality of Service (QoS), and promote/demote infrastructure patterns and/or resources dynamically
[Policy Orchestrator]
6. Efficient workload orchestration & data lifecycle management

A measure of simplicity, but comprehensive autonomy and innate intelligence, in the cloud platforms, essentially is the driving factor to such levels of maturity.

Providers are likely to render significant value when they can concertedly apportion platform costs to (workload) QoS.

Cloud computing with increased capability

All the major firm would trying to increase the licensing version of providing cloud computing service to there business partner at reduced cost with great functionality and services which is necessary to decrease noisy neighbor problem. I would also like to share some of the major factors which deals with benefits of cloud computing environment with it's increased functionality, http://www.novelaspect.com/blog/the-benefits-of-cloud-computing-infographic