Welcome!

SDN Journal Authors: Jim Hansen, Greg Schulz, Liz McMillan, Scott Davis, Carl J. Levine

Related Topics: Containers Expo Blog, @CloudExpo, SDN Journal

Containers Expo Blog: Article

Cloud and Virtualization | @CloudExpo @SHD_9 #PaaS #SaaS #AI #SDN #SDS

As cloud adoption continues to grow, so will its evolution from cost-saving tactic to business enablement strategy

Cloud and Virtualization - A Case of Déjà Vu

As today's businesses increasingly turn to the cloud to run their operations, seasoned enterprise technology professionals may recognize a familiar pattern. Years ago, virtualization emerged as a transformational technology with a similar pattern of business drivers; initially the promise of significant cost savings justified deployments. Just as virtualization evolved from a tactical cost-saving technology into a corporate strategy enabling enterprises to be responsive to changing business demands, cloud computing is following a similar path.

I talk frequently with IT professionals about their interest in and usage of cloud technologies, and I'm frequently struck by a strong sense of déjà vu from the time when virtualization was starting to take off and gain traction within enterprises across the globe. Virtualization was the seed that sparked the cloud revolution, although cloud has now taken its concepts significantly further. From the business drivers that drove adoption to usage patterns and issues around managing sprawl, there have been some remarkable similarities between cloud computing and virtualization.

The initial driver for virtualization - and the reason it gained traction quickly - was the ability to run multiple workloads on the same server, while isolated from each other, so organizations could safely utilize excess capacity on underutilized servers. IT was now able to run the same workloads on fewer servers - that means fewer servers to buy, fewer servers to power and fewer servers to maintain and very easy to justify purchasing. Over time, the hypervisor evolved and became more sophisticated, adding capabilities such as workload mobility features across clusters of servers and becoming robust enough for mission-critical workloads. This allowed for the optimization of resources across workloads and the beginning of software-controlled infrastructure.

As the cost effectiveness made virtualization ubiquitous, increasingly organizations got used to these time, flexibility and efficiency savings. The curse of cost optimization is that it doesn't take long to go from innovative disruptor to table stakes. As a result, the virtualization cost savings were increasingly taken for granted and the operational benefits drove the spread of virtualization. Organizations saw the benefits of business agility under software control through rapid provisioning and automation, high availability, resource aggregation and management, scale-out clustering, disaster recovery as a service and live migration, eliminating the need for planned downtime. And with that, virtualization became indispensable in the data center.

Agility and the removal of friction from once-laborious tasks is a powerful proposition. Virtualization's ability to dramatically enhance business agility, along with software control and management, became the fundamental driver of virtualization adoption. As with any new technology, however, this increase in adoption created challenges, including VM sprawl. Servicing and provisioning new virtual servers became incredibly simple - so simple that enterprises often lost track of them. This can lead to enormous waste, with resources consumed when they are not needed.

Virtualization continued to expand into what is now known as the Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC). The idea here was to take all data center infrastructure resources including network, storage, and security, and virtualize and aggregate them so they can be dynamically apportioned out to workloads. This is all accomplished under software control without any manual intervention or hardware modification. Hyper-converged infrastructure is one variant of the SDDC, where customers purchase a self-contained "building block" appliance that contains server, storage and network components in an integrated bundle. Virtual machines presented as programmable, software-controlled infrastructure is what ultimately enabled the cloud revolution. With public cloud, you purchase virtual machines for a specified interval and you no longer need to own, manage or maintain any of the hardware resources to run them on.

Cloud Computing: A Similar Path
Now that we have a sense of how virtualization evolved and took off, what does that have to do with the cloud revolution? The cloud, just like virtualization before it, first gained popularity because of the most basic business driver there is: cost savings. Why treat hardware like a fixed capex cost that you have to amortize over lengthy periods of time when you can treat it as an on-demand operational cost? The ability to only pay for what you use allows for enormous cost and resource savings. But, much like virtualization, even huge cost savings eventually get taken for granted because they evolve into expected table stakes - the baseline for moving forward.

Public cloud cost savings are now a given with a level playing field between providers. That leaves us with the operational and agility benefits of cloud computing as being the real driver of adoption. The cloud presents all the agility of the SDDC, but additionally allows organizations to offload all hardware purchase, configuration and maintenance to the cloud providers. Under some circumstances, software maintenance for operating systems, services and applications can be offloaded as well. This is one of the benefits of higher levels of abstraction such as Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS). When utilizing PaaS services, developers and IT are no longer responsible for the middleware services such as databases that they use in their applications. With SaaS, none of the implementation technologies and their operational maintenance are the responsibility of the end user.

With cloud-based services, the value is in the fact that IT is no longer running the application or service. They're not hosting it, managing it or updating it either. It's a simple transaction - paying for a service and using it to help run their business. That's the value proposition that's led to widespread SaaS adoption, which is on the verge of becoming the dominant model for businesses services and applications that don't provide a competitive differentiation.

As we look at the differences between the Software-Defined Data Center and public or hybrid clouds, elasticity - the ability to grow and shift workloads to rapidly supply resources on demand to cost-effectively handle peaks and lulls - emerges as a big one. While the SDDC can enable elasticity, it falls short when it comes to usage-based pricing. With an SDDC, organizations still must own enough hardware to handle simultaneous peak workload demands. When leveraging a public or hybrid cloud, organizations have the ability to handle burst capacity when they need it - and only when they need it. It eliminates the need to pay for resources not being used as a "just in case" expense.

The similarities between the paths of virtualization and cloud computing adoption are not all positive. We see a lot of the same problems being repeated - in particular the issue of sprawl. As we discussed earlier, VM sprawl became an issue because new machines became so easy to provision that it was easy to lose track. The same issues impact cloud services, with the big difference being that lost, misplaced or unused cloud services will cost organizations real money, not just waste previously purchased hardware. Both cloud-specific and comprehensive cross-cloud management solutions that prevent VM sprawl, provide resource visibility and rightsizing, and cost optimizations are increasingly in demand by today's cloud consumers.

Like virtualization a decade or so before it, cloud adoption began as a tool for cost savings - certainly a powerful lead-in that can grab attention and market share. But as cost savings become an inherent part of baseline budgets and projections, it's the ability to enable business agility that fueled virtualization to its ubiquitous adoption. As cloud adoption continues to grow, so will its evolution from cost-saving tactic to business enablement strategy.

More Stories By Scott Davis

Scott Davis is a well-known technology executive, entrepreneur, corporate advisor and vExpert. He is currently EVP of Product Engineering & Chief Technology Officer at Embotics, a Cloud Automation and Management company, where he drives product engineering, technology strategy and heads up the Office of the CTO. He also serves on the advisory boards of Opvizor, Calgary Scientific and Infinio.

Davis spent seven years at VMware, most recently as CTO of the company’s End-User Computing Business Unit where he was instrumental in building that $1B business by driving product and technology strategy, partnerships and engineering initiatives across VMware’s product lines. Scott also served as VMware's Chief Data Center & Storage Architect.

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.


@CloudExpo Stories
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 add...
Historically, some banking activities such as trading have been relying heavily on analytics and cutting edge algorithmic tools. The coming of age of powerful data analytics solutions combined with the development of intelligent algorithms have created new opportunities for financial institutions. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Sebastien Meunier, Head of Digital for North America at Chappuis Halder & Co., will discuss how these tools can be leveraged to develop a lasting competitive advanta...
TechTarget storage websites are the best online information resource for news, tips and expert advice for the storage, backup and disaster recovery markets. By creating abundant, high-quality editorial content across more than 140 highly targeted technology-specific websites, TechTarget attracts and nurtures communities of technology buyers researching their companies' information technology needs. By understanding these buyers' content consumption behaviors, TechTarget creates the purchase inte...
DevOps is often described as a combination of technology and culture. Without both, DevOps isn't complete. However, applying the culture to outdated technology is a recipe for disaster; as response times grow and connections between teams are delayed by technology, the culture will die. A Nutanix Enterprise Cloud has many benefits that provide the needed base for a true DevOps paradigm.
My team embarked on building a data lake for our sales and marketing data to better understand customer journeys. This required building a hybrid data pipeline to connect our cloud CRM with the new Hadoop Data Lake. One challenge is that IT was not in a position to provide support until we proved value and marketing did not have the experience, so we embarked on the journey ourselves within the product marketing team for our line of business within Progress. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Sum...
Your homes and cars can be automated and self-serviced. Why can't your storage? From simply asking questions to analyze and troubleshoot your infrastructure, to provisioning storage with snapshots, recovery and replication, your wildest sci-fi dream has come true. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 20th Cloud Expo, Dan Florea, Director of Product Management at Tintri, will provide a ChatOps demo where you can talk to your storage and manage it from anywhere, through Slack and similar services ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftLayer, an IBM Company, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. SoftLayer, an IBM Company, provides cloud infrastructure as a service from a growing number of data centers and network points of presence around the world. SoftLayer’s customers range from Web startups to global enterprises.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Ocean9will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Ocean9 provides cloud services for Backup, Disaster Recovery (DRaaS) and instant Innovation, and redefines enterprise infrastructure with its cloud native subscription offerings for mission critical SAP workloads.
Have you ever noticed how some IT people seem to lead successful, rewarding, and satisfying lives and careers, while others struggle? IT author and speaker Don Crawley uncovered the five principles that successful IT people use to build satisfying lives and careers and he shares them in this fast-paced, thought-provoking webinar. You'll learn the importance of striking a balance with technical skills and people skills, challenge your pre-existing ideas about IT customer service, and gain new in...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Juniper Networks (NYSE: JNPR), an industry leader in automated, scalable and secure networks, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Juniper Networks challenges the status quo with products, solutions and services that transform the economics of networking. The company co-innovates with customers and partners to deliver automated, scalable and secure network...
Interoute has announced the integration of its Global Cloud Infrastructure platform with Rancher Labs’ container management platform, Rancher. This approach enables enterprises to accelerate their digital transformation and infrastructure investments. Matthew Finnie, Interoute CTO commented “Enterprises developing and building apps in the cloud and those on a path to Digital Transformation need Digital ICT Infrastructure that allows them to build, test and deploy faster than ever before. The int...
VeriStor Systems has announced that CRN has named VeriStor to its 2017 Managed Service Provider (MSP) 500 list in the Elite 150 category. This annual list recognizes North American solution providers with cutting-edge approaches to delivering managed services. Their offerings help companies navigate the complex and ever-changing landscape of IT, improve operational efficiencies, and maximize their return on IT investments. In today’s fast-paced business environments, MSPs play an important role...
DevOps is often described as a combination of technology and culture. Without both, DevOps isn't complete. However, applying the culture to outdated technology is a recipe for disaster; as response times grow and connections between teams are delayed by technology, the culture will die. A Nutanix Enterprise Cloud has many benefits that provide the needed base for a true DevOps paradigm. In his Day 3 Keynote at 20th Cloud Expo, Chris Brown, a Solutions Marketing Manager at Nutanix, will explore t...
What if you could build a web application that could support true web-scale traffic without having to ever provision or manage a single server? Sounds magical, and it is! In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Chris Munns, Senior Developer Advocate for Serverless Applications at Amazon Web Services, will show how to build a serverless website that scales automatically using services like AWS Lambda, Amazon API Gateway, and Amazon S3. We will review several frameworks that can help you build serverle...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Linux Academy, the foremost online Linux and cloud training platform and community, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Linux Academy was founded on the belief that providing high-quality, in-depth training should be available at an affordable price. Industry leaders in quality training, provided services, and student certification passes, its goal is to c...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 6–8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.
FinTech is the sum of financial and technology, and it’s one of the fastest growing tech industries. Total global investments in FinTech almost reached $50 billion last year, but there is still a great deal of confusion over what it is and what it means – especially as it applies to retirement. Building financial startups is not simple, but with the right team, technology and an innovative approach it can be an extremely interesting domain to disrupt. FinTech heralds a financial revolution that...
Keeping pace with advancements in software delivery processes and tooling is taxing even for the most proficient organizations. Point tools, platforms, open source and the increasing adoption of private and public cloud services requires strong engineering rigor - all in the face of developer demands to use the tools of choice. As Agile has settled in as a mainstream practice, now DevOps has emerged as the next wave to improve software delivery speed and output. To make DevOps work, organization...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Loom Systems will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Founded in 2015, Loom Systems delivers an advanced AI solution to predict and prevent problems in the digital business. Loom stands alone in the industry as an AI analysis platform requiring no prior math knowledge from operators, leveraging the existing staff to succeed in the digital era. With offices in S...
SYS-CON Events announced today that T-Mobile will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. As America's Un-carrier, T-Mobile US, Inc., is redefining the way consumers and businesses buy wireless services through leading product and service innovation. The Company's advanced nationwide 4G LTE network delivers outstanding wireless experiences to 67.4 million customers who are unwilling to compromise on ...