|By Andrew Hillier||
|August 14, 2011 05:45 AM EDT||
Few areas of human endeavor can match the pace of change in IT. Even by IT standards, the change being driven by cloud computing sometimes seems surprising. To refer to a virtual environment that has only recently been deployed as "legacy," as some organizations are now doing, underscores the fact that the only thing constant in the data center is change. To deal with change of this magnitude, which can involve transforming the workload hosting model of an entire organization, some industrial-strength thinking is required.
In order to tackle this challenge, it's important to properly frame the cloud transformation problem. Many associate cloud with agility, flexibility, cost transparency and other end-user-oriented benefits. But many of these attributes are primarily associated with new infrastructure requests, and specifically, the use of self-service portals to "spin up" infrastructure to host new applications or host transient processing demands. When it comes to migrating hundreds or thousands of existing workloads into cloud infrastructure, agility is not a benefit that is typically experienced. In fact the opposite is often the case: because clouds require a higher degree of standardization (i.e., a finite catalog of sizes and software options), migrating existing physical and virtual servers into cloud models can actually be quite difficult. In other words, the very features that make clouds agile for new workload deployments can actually make them less agile from a transformation perspective.
This is where the notion of a factory comes in. In industrial processes, factories are the epitome of scalability, repeatability and productivity. Although they may take some effort to "tool up," once they are up and running they can handle a higher flow of activity, efficiently processing inputs to provide consistent output. This notion is also key to large-scale transformation. By applying a common approach that has been properly engineered to give repeatable results, organizations can greatly reduce the time and effort required to migrate to cloud infrastructure.
Within this concept, it is important to expand on what is meant by "properly engineered." Many organizations tackle these kinds of problems from a grassroots perspective, using spreadsheets and smart people to determine action. The problem with this approach is it rarely evolves to the point where it can generate truly accurate answers, mainly because the problem is too complex. Migrating workloads into clouds requires processing volumes of historical data, analyzing configuration information on the servers and applications being migrated, modeling target instance sizes and software stacks, enforcing corporate and regulatory requirements, honoring SLA and data protection rules, etc. Spreadsheets are not well suited to this, in much the same way that they are ill suited for use as corporate accounting platforms. Even if they can be coaxed into giving a decent answer for simple environments, they will not generate the reports needed to satisfy stakeholders, management, engineering, operations, etc., all of whom need significant detail surrounding the decisions being made in order to ensure benefits are achieved and risk is minimized.
Buried in the list of migration analysis requirements is a key concept linking them all together. This is the notion of policy, which represents the ground rules on how workloads should be hosted, where they should and should not go, how much resources they should be allocated, etc. Without properly modeled policies, hosting decisions are left to the practitioner performing the migration, and it can be hit-or-miss whether they do the right thing (or even follow the same policy twice in a row). Planning and managing cloud infrastructure without proper policies is like trying to fill out a tax return without instructions - there are just too many variables to get it right.
With all of these concepts in mind, the exact nature of the cloud factory becomes clearer. It divides the problem into a series of logical steps that combine data, target models and cloud planning and management policies in order to automate the process of deciding exactly where things go and how big to make them. These steps that make up the factory are:
- Candidate Qualification: This process determines whether a given set of workloads are suitable to be hosted in a given cloud environment. This is both qualitative and quantitative in nature and designed to separate true candidates from the workloads that are better suited to go elsewhere (more on this later in step 6). Examples of quantitative criteria include maximum I/O rates, context switching limitations, maximum CPU and memory sizes, etc. Qualitative criteria include data sensitivity, SLA requirements, backup strategy and other considerations. By applying a policy capturing all of these factors, a rapid and accurate assessment can be made.
- Sizing: This takes the qualified candidates and determines what cloud instances are best suited to host them given their historical levels and patterns of utilization. This again is subject to policy, which governs how much history is considered, target utilization levels, etc. The result is a detailed specification of the instance sizes needed and the projected utilization levels in the "to be" environment. Note the use of benchmarks is critical in this step, as the translation of CPU utilization from the current environment to the cloud depends on the relative speeds of the CPU employed in each.
- Load Balancing: Also a sizing step, this is focused on the load balancers and clusters being migrated. Because cloud environments offer different sizing options, and can even offer more advanced "elasticity" features, it is not always desirable to do a straight one-to-one translation of these servers into cloud capacity. For example, an 8-way IIS cluster might translate onto 12 smalls, 6 mediums and 3 large instances. Of these options, the one that meets the policy criteria (e.g., size for yearly peak activity, allow for N+1 resiliency) at the lowest cost will be the winner. This result is combined with the general sizing results from the previous step to provide a complete sizing plan.
- Software Stack Mapping: This step considers the OS and software configurations of the source servers and maps them onto the "closest" configuration available in the cloud. Because cloud catalogs only offer a finite set of software options, this is effectively a standardization analysis. For Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), this step is typically limited to the OS-level configuration and matches the OS attributes of the existing servers and VMs to the operating systems that are on offer in the cloud (which is typically a much shorter list). For Platform-as-a-Service this step also includes scrutiny of the actual software inventory and applications installed. The result may say "server X looks the most like an IIS v6 server, but differs from the standard image in the following ways..." This not only provides the optimal stack to deploy, but also generates a remediation list that is critical for reducing risk during implementation.
- Placement: Once the final specification is arrived at (through sizing, balancing and software mapping), the next step for internal cloud environments is determining exactly where the workloads should be placed in the infrastructure actually hosting the cloud environment. Because most clouds are based on virtual environments, the key is to fit the new VMs into the environment in a way that optimally leverages server resources. This step looks somewhat similar to placement of workloads in virtual environments (which tends to resemble placing Tetris blocks in available server capacity), but the policy regarding overcommit has a large influence on the resulting placements. If the policy is to strictly reserve the capacity for each cloud instance, then the environment will be very safe but relatively inefficient, as the workload density will be quite low (think of playing Tetris with the blocks wrapped in bubbles). If the policy is to fully overcommit resources, then the end customer may have a higher risk of contention if they place unanticipated demands on the environment, but the higher density that results can result in significantly lower costs (think Tetris blocks packed tightly together, requiring far less capacity).
- Exception Handling: Going back to step 1, there are typically components of an application or business service that may not be suitable for hosting in the cloud. For these systems, it is necessary to evaluate other hosting options in order to determine what to do with them. Because there is often an order of precedence with respect to the hosting options, this step involves the systematic qualification of the rejected workloads against an ordered set of hosting strategies. These strategies can include using cloud instances with customized allocations, using dedicated cloud servers, hosting in a virtual environment, using dedicated blades, using dedicated rack mount servers or leaving the workloads alone (a last resort). By passing the rejected candidates through this gauntlet of options, each will arrive at a viable outcome.
The result of applying these steps is a methodical, exhaustive and rapid process for planning cloud migrations. By taking a data-centric, policy-driven approach, fewer mistakes are made, less rework is required, and application owners and other stakeholders will have much higher confidence they will arrive on the other end unscathed. This transparency, combined with the detailed specifications and implementation details that emerge, can rapidly accelerate cloud initiatives. This not only reduces time-to-value, but also enables IT organizations to keep up with the pace of technology innovation, which shows no sign of letting up.
The proper isolation of resources is essential for multi-tenant environments. The traditional approach to isolate resources is, however, rather heavyweight. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Igor Drobiazko, co-founder of elastic.io, drew upon his own experience with operating a Docker container-based infrastructure on a large scale and present a lightweight solution for resource isolation using microservices. He also discussed the implementation of microservices in data and application integrat...
Jan. 22, 2017 07:15 PM EST Reads: 3,620
In his General Session at DevOps Summit, Asaf Yigal, Co-Founder & VP of Product at Logz.io, will explore the value of Kibana 4 for log analysis and will give a real live, hands-on tutorial on how to set up Kibana 4 and get the most out of Apache log files. He will examine three use cases: IT operations, business intelligence, and security and compliance. This is a hands-on session that will require participants to bring their own laptops, and we will provide the rest.
Jan. 22, 2017 06:30 PM EST Reads: 5,004
Here’s a novel, but controversial statement, “it’s time for the CEO, COO, CIO to start to take joint responsibility for application platform decisions.” For too many years now technical meritocracy has led the decision-making for the business with regard to platform selection. This includes, but is not limited to, servers, operating systems, virtualization, cloud and application platforms. In many of these cases the decision has not worked in favor of the business with regard to agility and cost...
Jan. 22, 2017 06:00 PM EST Reads: 653
All organizations that did not originate this moment have a pre-existing culture as well as legacy technology and processes that can be more or less amenable to DevOps implementation. That organizational culture is influenced by the personalities and management styles of Executive Management, the wider culture in which the organization is situated, and the personalities of key team members at all levels of the organization. This culture and entrenched interests usually throw a wrench in the work...
Jan. 22, 2017 06:00 PM EST Reads: 1,535
As the race for the presidency heats up, IT leaders would do well to recall the famous catchphrase from Bill Clinton’s successful 1992 campaign against George H. W. Bush: “It’s the economy, stupid.” That catchphrase is important, because IT economics are important. Especially when it comes to cloud. Application performance management (APM) for the cloud may turn out to be as much about those economics as it is about customer experience.
Jan. 22, 2017 03:15 PM EST Reads: 4,741
When you focus on a journey from up-close, you look at your own technical and cultural history and how you changed it for the benefit of the customer. This was our starting point: too many integration issues, 13 SWP days and very long cycles. It was evident that in this fast-paced industry we could no longer afford this reality. We needed something that would take us beyond reducing the development lifecycles, CI and Agile methodologies. We made a fundamental difference, even changed our culture...
Jan. 22, 2017 03:00 PM EST Reads: 1,197
SYS-CON Events announced today that Dataloop.IO, an innovator in cloud IT-monitoring whose products help organizations save time and money, has been named “Bronze 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. Dataloop.IO is an emerging software company on the cutting edge of major IT-infrastructure trends including cloud computing and microservices. The company, founded in the UK but now based in San Fran...
Jan. 22, 2017 02:30 PM EST Reads: 2,638
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017 at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with the 20th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. @ThingsExpo New York Call for Papers is now open.
Jan. 22, 2017 02:30 PM EST Reads: 3,755
The 20th International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Containers, Microservices and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding business opportunity. Submit your speaking proposal ...
Jan. 22, 2017 02:00 PM EST Reads: 5,286
Thanks to Docker, it becomes very easy to leverage containers to build, ship, and run any Linux application on any kind of infrastructure. Docker is particularly helpful for microservice architectures because their successful implementation relies on a fast, efficient deployment mechanism – which is precisely one of the features of Docker. Microservice architectures are therefore becoming more popular, and are increasingly seen as an interesting option even for smaller projects, instead of being...
Jan. 22, 2017 12:15 PM EST Reads: 2,633
@DevOpsSummit taking place June 6-8, 2017 at Javits Center, New York City, is co-located with the 20th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo New York Call for Papers is now open.
Jan. 22, 2017 12:00 PM EST Reads: 3,635
SYS-CON Events announced today that Catchpoint Systems, Inc., a provider of innovative web and infrastructure monitoring solutions, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's DevOps Summit at 18th Cloud Expo New York, which will take place June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Catchpoint is a leading Digital Performance Analytics company that provides unparalleled insight into customer-critical services to help consistently deliver an amazing customer experience. Designed ...
Jan. 22, 2017 11:45 AM EST Reads: 6,460
DevOps is being widely accepted (if not fully adopted) as essential in enterprise IT. But as Enterprise DevOps gains maturity, expands scope, and increases velocity, the need for data-driven decisions across teams becomes more acute. DevOps teams in any modern business must wrangle the ‘digital exhaust’ from the delivery toolchain, "pervasive" and "cognitive" computing, APIs and services, mobile devices and applications, the Internet of Things, and now even blockchain. In this power panel at @...
Jan. 22, 2017 11:45 AM EST Reads: 2,971
2016 has been an amazing year for Docker and the container industry. We had 3 major releases of Docker engine this year , and tremendous increase in usage. The community has been following along and contributing amazing Docker resources to help you learn and get hands-on experience. Here’s some of the top read and viewed content for the year. Of course releases are always really popular, particularly when they fit requests we had from the community.
Jan. 22, 2017 11:00 AM EST Reads: 1,246
You often hear the two titles of "DevOps" and "Immutable Infrastructure" used independently. In his session at DevOps Summit, John Willis, Technical Evangelist for Docker, covered the union between the two topics and why this is important. He provided an overview of Immutable Infrastructure then showed how an Immutable Continuous Delivery pipeline can be applied as a best practice for "DevOps." He ended the session with some interesting case study examples.
Jan. 22, 2017 10:30 AM EST Reads: 3,276
An overall theme of Cloud computing and the specific practices within it is fundamentally one of automation. The core value of technology is to continually automate low level procedures to free up people to work on more value add activities, ultimately leading to the utopian goal of full Autonomic Computing. For example a great way to define your plan for DevOps tool chain adoption is through this lens. In this TechTarget article they outline a simple maturity model for planning this.
Jan. 22, 2017 10:15 AM EST Reads: 883
Buzzword alert: Microservices and IoT at a DevOps conference? What could possibly go wrong? In this Power Panel at DevOps Summit, moderated by Jason Bloomberg, the leading expert on architecting agility for the enterprise and president of Intellyx, panelists peeled away the buzz and discuss the important architectural principles behind implementing IoT solutions for the enterprise. As remote IoT devices and sensors become increasingly intelligent, they become part of our distributed cloud enviro...
Jan. 22, 2017 08:30 AM EST Reads: 5,011
In 2014, Amazon announced a new form of compute called Lambda. We didn't know it at the time, but this represented a fundamental shift in what we expect from cloud computing. Now, all of the major cloud computing vendors want to take part in this disruptive technology. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, John Jelinek IV, a web developer at Linux Academy, will discuss why major players like AWS, Microsoft Azure, IBM Bluemix, and Google Cloud Platform are all trying to sidestep VMs and containers...
Jan. 22, 2017 08:30 AM EST Reads: 984
DevOps tends to focus on the relationship between Dev and Ops, putting an emphasis on the ops and application infrastructure. But that’s changing with microservices architectures. In her session at DevOps Summit, Lori MacVittie, Evangelist for F5 Networks, will focus on how microservices are changing the underlying architectures needed to scale, secure and deliver applications based on highly distributed (micro) services and why that means an expansion into “the network” for DevOps.
Jan. 22, 2017 06:30 AM EST Reads: 5,611
Adding public cloud resources to an existing application can be a daunting process. The tools that you currently use to manage the software and hardware outside the cloud aren’t always the best tools to efficiently grow into the cloud. All of the major configuration management tools have cloud orchestration plugins that can be leveraged, but there are also cloud-native tools that can dramatically improve the efficiency of managing your application lifecycle. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, ...
Jan. 22, 2017 02:45 AM EST Reads: 6,162