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Clouds are Like Babies

By: Kurt Milne

While preparing for the Datamation Google+ hangout about hybrid cloud with Andi Mann and David Linthicum that took place last week, I referred to Seema Jethani’s great presentation from DevOps Days in Mountain View.

Her presentation theme, “Clouds are Like Babies,” was brilliant: Each cloud is a little different, does things its own way, speaks its own language and of course, brings joy. Sometimes, however, clouds can also be hard to work with.

Her great examples got me thinking about where we’re at as an industry with respect to adopting hybrid cloud, and the challenges related to interoperability and multi-cloud environments.

My guess is that we will work through security concerns, and that customers with checkbooks will force vendors to address technical interoperability issues. But then we will realize that there are operational interoperability challenges as well. In addition to cloud service provider decisions to use the AWS API set, there are tactical nuances that make having a single runbook for cloud tasks difficult across platforms.

From her presentation:

  • Cloudsigma requires the server to be stopped before making an image
  • Terremark requires the server to be stopped for a volume to be attached
  • CloudCentral requires the volume attached to the server in order to make a snapshot

The availability of various functions common in standard virtualized environment varies widely across cloud service providers – such as pausing a server, creating a snapshot, creating a load balancer, etc.

We don’t even have a common lexicon to describe a “Machine image” in AWS. VMware calls it a “Template vApp,” Openstack calls it an “Image,” and CloudStack call it a “Template.”

So in an Ops meeting, if you use an OpenStack-based public cloud and a private cloud based on CloudStack, and you say “we provision using templates, not images,” and someone from another team agrees that they do that too, how do you know if they know that you are talking about different things? It confuses me even writing the sentence.

I led a panel discussion on “automated provisioning” at DevOps Days. Due to templates/images/blueprint terminology confusion, we ended up using the terms “baked” (as in baked bread) to refer to provisioning from a single monolithic instance, and “fried” (as in stir-fried vegetables) to refer to building a release from multiple smaller components, assembled before provisioning – just to discuss automation!

Bottom line: Why not avoid all the multi-cloud hybrid-cloud interoperability and ops mishmash and use the vCloud Hybrid Service for your public cloud extension of VMware implementation?

Don’t miss my sessions at VMworld this year:

  • “Moving Enterprise Application Dev/Test to VMware’s internal Private Cloud” with Venkat Gopalakrishnan
  • “VMware Customer Journey – Where Are We with ITaaS and Ops Transformation in the Cloud Era?” with Mike Hulme

Follow @VMwareCloudOps on Twitter for future updates, and join the conversation by using the #CloudOps, #SDDC, and #VMworld hashtags on Twitter.

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About Kurt Milne

Kurt Milne is the Director of Product Marketing at VMware with more than 20 years of experience in various executive management, engineering, and analyst positions at leading tech companies, including Hewlett-Packard, BMC Software and several startups. In 2011, he released a book called “Visible Ops Private Cloud: from virtualization to private cloud in 4 practical steps”. Formerly the Managing Director of the IT Process Institute, he was the primary investigator and author of 6 major research studies on private cloud, virtualization, IT controls, change configuration and release, strategic alignment and IT governance.