Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: Pat Romanski, Haim Koshchitzky, Elizabeth White, Patrick Carey, Michael Bushong

Related Topics: Cloud Expo, SOA & WOA, Web 2.0, Security, SDN Journal

Cloud Expo: Article

Misconceptions Around App Testing in the Private Cloud

The private cloud actually confers many more nuanced benefits, particularly for developers

The private cloud: What it is (and isn't)
The private cloud is misunderstood. At this stage, vendors can be forgiven for not having a firm idea of what the private cloud is and how it can uniquely improve their processes. Too many service providers have branded legacy technologies as "cloud-based," warping buyers' expectations about what a private cloud actually is and should do. In some cases, what developers and testers get with these cloud-washed solutions are nothing more than heavily virtualized environments that offer little or none of the scalability, automation, self-service, and on-demand provisioning associated with cloud computing at-large.

As a result, organizations may think of the private cloud as simply a slight update to their internal IT systems, a fresh coat of paint on the same aging infrastructure that they have been looking to leave behind as new dynamic applications become more central to their businesses. They want a cloud platform that can enable more agile software lifecycles, with streamlined testing and abundant resources for developers, but these misconceptions may lead them to conclude that the public cloud is the only way to achieve these goals and facilitate quicker time-to-market, as well as higher programmer productivity.

The truth is that using a private cloud not only provides a productive dev/test environment, but also adds tangible advantages over running all workloads on public infrastructure. For starters, the unpredictable opex of using public cloud services can be replaced with fixed capex, mostly for high-end servers and appliances that provide the dedicated power for running tasks consistently. Accordingly, dev/test teams benefit from working in a single-tenant environment in which resources are rapidly and reliably provisioned and often come from appliances with superior specifications to public Infrastructure-as-a-Service machines.

Moreover, the private cloud boosts particular IT workflows, all while shielding these operations behind the company firewall. It provides high levels of security and control that make it ideal for safely developing and testing applications. Naturally, dev/test has been instrumental in shaping the private cloud's amenities for automation and self-service, along with the evolution of commercial solutions that leverage open source software to give teams maximum flexibility in configuring and customizing processes.

Some industry executives and observers have disputed the entire notion of the private cloud, arguing that it either has no agreed-upon definition or is already obsolete, but in reality its structures are readily discernible in data centers and on-premises systems that depend on it for these central IT, dev/test and quality assurance operations. These workflows all offer low-risk/high-reward opportunities for synthesizing the productive gains of cloud computing with dedicated hardware to obtain the best of both worlds.

While the private cloud has sometimes been cited for lacking the fundamental traits of cloud computing in general - on-demand service, scalability, self-provisioning and measurement - this argument only applies to virtualized environments that have been wrongly labeled. These depictions should not obscure the fact that private clouds are real, vital parts of IT infrastructure.

Why Do Testing and Development in a Private Cloud?
If development, and deployment of software, is a strategic everyday activity, then in most cases private clouds make sense. There is a common perception that controlling your IT destiny is complicated and expensive. But today, with highly evolved hardware and highly automated cloud platforms, operation of your own infrastructure is becoming easier and less expensive by the day.

Development and testing is a natural fit for cloud environments because superior access to resources leads to shorter wait times during critical processes (no more never-ending provisioning) and lower costs per unit tested. While these gains are theoretically attainable through any cloud platform, the private cloud provides distinctive advantages.

Start with infrastructure. Traditional testing environments are complicated to use and costly to maintain, taking up excessive space and consuming considerable power despite sitting idle for long periods of time. Firing up testing equipment every few months often leads to difficulty and frustration as teams try to ensure the consistency of all environments. Debugging times lengthen and application delivery is delayed.

Using a private cloud simplifies matters on both the hardware and software fronts. Testing resources can be set up and decommissioned as needed, obviating the need to keep instances running indefinitely on the public cloud. Private cloud virtualization enables compute, storage and networking to be scaled in accordance with application demands and a self-service Web portal can make this process easier. Some private cloud implementations connect to public infrastructure as needed, usually to provide additional automation, scalability or spillover, a phenomenon known as cloud bursting.

Still, would-be adopters may recoil at the perceived high cost of the private cloud, which is sometimes misleadingly set in stark contrast to the pay-as-you-go efficiency of the public cloud. In truth, improvements in hardware and public APIs have made the private cloud more affordable and reliable than ever before. It is no longer a cousin to the expensive, difficult-to-maintain systems that organizations once abandoned for the public cloud; rather, it is an increasingly vital component of modern IT, providing the security, control and performance needed for particular tasks, while also interacting with public platforms to open up a fuller range of services for developers and testers.

Using a Private Cloud Doesn't Mean Never Using the Public Cloud
The very term "private cloud" can be confusing, since it groups together a diverse range of infrastructure and software under one umbrella and sets them in opposition to remotely hosted services. This is a false dichotomy. Not all private clouds are equally capable, nor do they all share compatibility with public clouds as part of hybrid deployments, although the latter trait is becoming more common.

Accordingly, it makes sense to look at the private cloud on a case-by-case basis and assess them as tools and platforms for dev/test. Many of them can easily coexist with both legacy technologies and public cloud platforms to create an ideal environment for software development and deployment.

Public cloud providers have certainly taken note, with several of them modifying their services so that enterprise customers can, for example, feed information into big data tools from on-premises databases or other platforms. These moves speak to the ongoing demand for private clouds that not only have the most apparent amenities - security, dedicated hardware - but also offer highly efficient ways to handle workloads in different way depending on their requirements and on how they evolve.

More specifically, the private cloud is one way to reduce costs and still maintain advanced continuous integration. With the right combination of software and hardware, a private deployment enables excellent handling of servers and automation, as well as the use of plugins that can launch worker nodes on a public cloud for extra capacity. While organizations vary by the number of connections they make between in-house systems and the public cloud, the power of the private cloud is that it is flexible enough to address a wide range of use cases by applying cloud computing principles to key processes.

As such, the private cloud can be an important part of a hybrid deployment, with capabilities that support certain workflows in ways that the public cloud cannot. Resources can be provisioned quickly, leading to faster time to market. Dev/test can be run at low cost on the private cloud, with the workload shifted unchanged to a public cloud for production. Far from being an expensive relic or the antithesis of convenient self-service cloud computing, the private cloud, as well as the hybrid setups it may be part of, is a powerful platform for producing, testing and deploying software, and one that is often equipped with public APIs for additional versatility.

Startups and Service Providers Are Among Many Organizations with Private Clouds
How does the private cloud look in action? Organizations across many verticals have set up private clouds to make software deployment easy and economical. Private cloud is most readily associated with handling sensitive data for heavily regulated industries such as finance and healthcare, but its use cases are actually varied and particularly relevant for programmers.

It is common for startups to go with the public cloud to get what seems like the point-and-click convenience of unlimited resources. After a while, however, many of these companies realize that they can obtain better speeds on their own dedicated hardware, with the added benefits of better privacy and security compared to public cloud. Despite its rapid evolution, the public cloud is still very opaque, and users may get into situations in which they are overly reliant on average machines with specifications that cannot be adjusted. A private or hybrid cloud is a great way to get the infrastructure that the organization needs in order to reliably run workloads and get the most out of their investments.

While cost and security typically dominate any conversation about the private cloud, organizations should realize that it actually confers many more nuanced benefits, particularly for developers. Savings and data protection are critical, but a productive, transparent and highly configurable dev/test environment sets companies that use the private cloud up for long-term success in an increasingly complex cloud landscape.

More Stories By Shashi Mysore

Shashi Mysore is the Director of Product Management at Eucalyptus Systems, where his responsibilities include overseeing all aspects of the product life cycle, from strategy to execution. Mysore obtained his MS and PhD in Computer Science from the University of California at Santa Barbara and is a recipient of several awards at internationally renowned conferences, including two IEEE Micro Top Pick awards

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.


Cloud Expo Breaking News
Cloud Computing is evolving into a Big Three of Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure. Cloud 360: Multi-Cloud Bootcamp, being held Nov 4–5, 2014, in conjunction with 15th Cloud Expo in Santa Clara, CA, delivers a real-world demonstration of how to deploy and configure a scalable and available web application on all three platforms. The Cloud 360 Bootcamp, led by Janakiram MSV, an analyst with Gigaom Research, is the first bootcamp that introduces the core concepts of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) based on the workings of the Big Three platforms – Amazon EC2, Google Compute Engine, and Azure VMs. Bootcamp attendees will get to see the big picture and also receive the knowledge needed to make the best cloud decisions for their business applications and entire enterprise IT organization.
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.
The Internet of Things is a natural complement to the cloud and related technologies such as Big Data, analytics, and mobility. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Joe Weinman will lay out four generic strategies – digital disciplines – to exploit emerging digital technologies for strategic advantage. Joe Weinman has held executive leadership positions at Bell Labs, AT&T, Hewlett-Packard, and Telx, in areas such as corporate strategy, business development, product management, operations, and R&D.
SYS-CON Events announced today that DevOps.com has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's “DevOps Summit at Cloud Expo,” which will take place on June 10–12, 2014, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York. DevOps.com is where the world meets DevOps. It is the largest collection of original content relating to DevOps on the web today Featuring up-to-the-minute news, feature stories, blogs, bylined articles and more, DevOps.com is where the thought leaders of the DevOps movement make their ideas known.
There are 182 billion emails sent every day, generating a lot of data about how recipients and ISPs respond. Many marketers take a more-is-better approach to stats, preferring to have the ability to slice and dice their email lists based numerous arbitrary stats. However, fundamentally what really matters is whether or not sending an email to a particular recipient will generate value. Data Scientists can design high-level insights such as engagement prediction models and content clusters that allow marketers to cut through the noise and design their campaigns around strong, predictive signals, rather than arbitrary statistics. SendGrid sends up to half a billion emails a day for customers such as Pinterest and GitHub. All this email adds up to more text than produced in the entire twitterverse. We track events like clicks, opens and deliveries to help improve deliverability for our customers – adding up to over 50 billion useful events every month. While SendGrid data covers only abo...
SYS-CON Events announced today that the Web Host Industry Review has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Since 2000, The Web Host Industry Review has made a name for itself as the foremost authority of the Web hosting industry providing reliable, insightful and comprehensive news, reviews and resources to the hosting community. TheWHIR Blogs provides a community of expert industry perspectives. The Web Host Industry Review Magazine also offers a business-minded, issue-driven perspective of interest to executives and decision-makers. WHIR TV offers on demand web hosting video interviews and web hosting video features of the key persons and events of the web hosting industry. WHIR Events brings together like-minded hosting industry professionals and decision-makers in local communities. TheWHIR is an iNET Interactive property.
SYS-CON Events announced today that O'Reilly Media has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. O'Reilly Media spreads the knowledge of innovators through its books, online services, magazines, and conferences. Since 1978, O'Reilly Media has been a chronicler and catalyst of cutting-edge development, homing in on the technology trends that really matter and spurring their adoption by amplifying "faint signals" from the alpha geeks who are creating the future. An active participant in the technology community, the company has a long history of advocacy, meme-making, and evangelism.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Verizon has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Verizon Enterprise Solutions creates global connections that generate growth, drive business innovation and move society forward. With industry-specific solutions and a full range of global wholesale offerings provided over the company's secure mobility, cloud, strategic networking and advanced communications platforms, Verizon Enterprise Solutions helps open new opportunities around the world for innovation, investment and business transformation. Visit verizonenterprise.com to learn more.
SYS-CON Events announced today that TMCnet has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 15th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Technology Marketing Corporation (TMC) is the world's leading business to business and integrated marketing media company, servicing niche markets within the communications and technology industries.
"In my session I spoke about enterprise cloud analytics and how we can leverage analytics as a service," explained Ajay Budhraja, CTO at the Department of Justice, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at the 14th International Cloud Expo®, held June 10-12, 2014, at the Javits Center in New York City. Cloud Expo® 2014 Silicon Valley, November 4–6, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading Cloud industry players in the world.
“We are starting to see people move beyond the commodity cloud and enterprises need to start focusing on additional value added services in order to really drive their adoption," explained Jason Mondanaro, Director of Product Management at MetraTech, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at the 14th International Cloud Expo®, held June 10-12, 2014, at the Javits Center in New York City. Cloud Expo® 2014 Silicon Valley, November 4–6, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading Cloud industry players in the world.
"We are automated capacity control software, which basically looks at all the supply and demand and running a virtual cloud environment and does a deep analysis of that and says where should things go," explained Andrew Hillier, Co-founder & CTO of CiRBA, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at the 14th International Cloud Expo®, held June 10-12, 2014, at the Javits Center in New York City. Cloud Expo® 2014 Silicon Valley, November 4–6, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading Cloud industry players in the world.
Almost everyone sees the potential of Internet of Things but how can businesses truly unlock that potential. The key will be in the ability to discover business insight in the midst of an ocean of Big Data generated from billions of embedded devices via Systems of Discover. Businesses will also need to ensure that they can sustain that insight by leveraging the cloud for global reach, scale and elasticity. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Mac Devine, Distinguished Engineer at IBM, will discuss bringing these three elements together via Systems of Discover.
The Internet of Things promises to transform businesses (and lives), but navigating the business and technical path to success can be difficult to understand. In his session at 15th Internet of @ThingsExpo, Chad Jones, Vice President, Product Strategy of LogMeIn's Xively IoT Platform, will show you how to approach creating broadly successful connected customer solutions using real world business transformation studies including New England BioLabs and more.
All too many discussions about DevOps conclude that the solution is an all-purpose player: developer and operations guru, complete with pager for round-the-clock duty. For most organizations that is not the way forward. In his session at DevOps Summit, Bernard Golden, Vice President of Strategy at ActiveState, will discuss how to achieve the agility and speed of end-to-end automation without requiring an organization stocked with Supermen and Superwomen.