Microservices Expo Authors: Derek Weeks, Liz McMillan, Roger Strukhoff, David Sprott, Carmen Gonzalez

Related Topics: @CloudExpo, Microservices Expo, Containers Expo Blog, Agile Computing, Government Cloud, @BigDataExpo

@CloudExpo: Article

Government Steps up to Define Cloud Brokering

US Department of Energy: Proving the cloud service broker model

Emerging markets don’t generally follow smooth, predictable paths. Rather, they struggle and jerk unexpectedly, much like an eaglet escaping from its shell. Vendors, analysts, and pundits may seek to define such markets, but typically fall short. After all, vendors don’t establish markets. Customers do.

Today, cloud computing is still in its birth throes. Yes, many organizations are now achieving value in the cloud, but many more still struggle to understand its true value proposition as cloud service providers (CSPs) and vendors mature their offerings in the space. One problem: cloud computing is not a single market. It is in fact many interrelated markets, as its core service models, infrastructure-, platform-, and software as a service (SaaS), fragment as though they were so many pieces of eggshell.


To bring order to this chaos, a new sub-market of the broader cloud-computing market has emerged: the cloud service broker (CSB). Envision some kind of cloud middleman, helping to cut through the plethora of cloud options and services by offering…well, just what a CSB offers isn’t quite clear. And that’s the problem with the whole notion of a CSB. The market has yet to fully define it.

Not that there aren’t plenty of perspectives on just what a CSB should actually do, mind you. If anything, there are too many opinions, prompting arguments among bloggers and confusion among customers.

Gartner claims CSBs should offer aggregation, integration, and customization, while Forrester delineates simple cloud brokers, full infrastructure brokers, and SaaS brokers – at least initially. And then there’s the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST), who calls for CSBs to provide aggregation, intermediation, and arbitrage, specifically for brokers that would serve the US federal government.

There’s only one way to cut through this confusion: talk to an organization who not only figured out what they wanted from a CSB, but also built one themselves.

But poke around the blogosphere, and many other CSB features come to light. Management is a huge requirement -- or two requirements, actually, as some organizations have needs that focus on business management, while others focus more on the technical aspects of management.

And what about assessments? Shouldn’t your broker assess CSPs who wish to join the CSB, providing some kind of thumbs-up before providers can participate? Then there are the questions about the nature and configuration of the CSB itself. Is it internal to the organization, or a third party much like a real-estate broker might be? And finally, is the broker essentially a software solution, or is it an organization or team in its own right, where software plays a support role to what are essentially a set of brokering business processes?

There’s only one way to cut through this confusion: talk to an organization who not only figured out what they wanted from a CSB, but also built one themselves. The organization in question: the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), an agency of the United States Department of Energy (DOE).

Management and security

According to its Web site, NNSA is responsible for the management and security of the nation’s nuclear weapons, nuclear nonproliferation, naval reactor programs, and related activities. Under the auspices of Deputy Chief Technology Officer Anil Karmel, NNSA and the Los Alamos National Lab (LANL) implemented a CSB they call YOURcloud, in collaboration with partners in the contractor community.

According to Karmel, YOURcloud both leverages and supports the DOE’s Information on Demand (IoD) strategy. It provides a self-service portal for infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offerings across multiple CSPs, including on-premise, community, and public cloud services like Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). YOURcloud balances a diversity of choices among IaaS providers for various DOE programs while allowing those programs to maintain full autonomy of their cloud workloads.

YOURcloud users include DOE users, laboratory and plant users, other government agency users, support contractors, and members of the public. DOE business use cases for the CSB include rapid deployment of servers to scientists, security controls based on data sensitivity, calculating energy savings, disaster recovery, and capital expenditure reduction. And of course, security is a paramount concern.

Karmel describes YOURcloud as a “Cloud of Clouds.” In other words, it’s a secure hybrid CSB that incorporates both on-premise and public cloud offerings. This approach gives them a unified management control plane for IaaS and IoD, and in fact, this technical management capability is central to the role of the CSB at NNSA.

The central problem that led NNSA to build YOURcloud was their desire to deploy cloud services rapidly.

The central problem that led NNSA to build YOURcloud was their desire to deploy cloud services rapidly. Before the debut of the broker, cloud deployments had taken 70 days or more, according to Karmel.

NNSA also required a comprehensive security plan that was more sophisticated than the security capabilities other CSBs, both in production as well as on the drawing board, might offer. To this end, YOURcloud delivers software-defined security covering network, storage, and compute resources. It provides adaptive security that covers both NNSA’s virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) as well as service enclaves.

In fact, the notion of service enclaves is central to how YOURcloud deals with security. It’s possible to partition enclaves so that an organization can use one cloud, while protecting sensitive data from users who lack the credentials to access the information in that cloud.

In essence, enclaves provide a container for both workloads and configurations. After a program creates an enclave, it establishes role-based access control (RBAC) by assigning permissions to the organization’s technical staff. In the future, YOURcloud will also provide a shared services enclave that will provide the foundation for enterprise “app store” functionality for the DOE broadly and NNSA in particular.

Critical function
Organization-centric user registration is also a critical function of the CSB. NNSA requires that YOURcloud identify each participating organizations’ top-level contacts in part to prevent unnecessary organization overlap. Users include technical contacts who select providers, create enclaves, grant permissions, and manage configurations. In particular, security contacts provide organizational firewall control, while billing contacts handle billing statement controls.

Cost reduction is one of the most trumpeted benefits of cloud computing, but the government procurement context complicates the ability of departments to leverage the cloud’s utility model. It’s essential, therefore, for YOURcloud to define the cost structure for IaaS, including the duration of the infrastructure services as well as the mechanism for payment.

Simple pay-as-you-go pricing, however, won’t work for the DOE. The risk with such pricing, of course, is the possibility of an unexpectedly large bill. Such unpredictability is inconsistent with normal government procurement processes. Instead, agencies require full allocation, meaning a fixed price for a maximum level of consumption of cloud services. YOURcloud facilitates this full allocation pricing model, and also enables programs to turn off cloud services and hold them for future use. In effect, delivery of the CSB enables the DOE to save money while simultaneously providing an agnostic platform for innovation.

Since NNSA is a government agency, it’s no surprise that YOURcloud follows NIST’s definition of a CSB more closely than Gartner’s or Forrester’s. In fact, YOURcloud exhibits all three of NIST’s CSB capabilities: aggregation, intermediation, and arbitrage. Not only does YOURcloud aggregate pre-approved CSPs, it provides both business intermediation as well technical intermediation.

Perhaps the most important asset YOURcloud brings to the table for DOE is how well it supports program autonomy.

The current version of YOURcloud also has limited arbitrage capabilities in the form of a dynamic cost calculator, as well as chargeback and showback functionality (showback refers to providing management with an analysis of the IT costs due to each department, without actually charging those costs back to the departments).

Perhaps the most important asset YOURcloud brings to the table for DOE is how well it supports program autonomy. YOURcloud allows programs within the DOE to maintain full control over their workloads within the context of a common security baseline. Karmel’s cloud-of-clouds approach enables YOURcloud to broker any organization, through any device, to any service. This respect for program autonomy addresses the “not invented here” problem: program managers can leverage the capabilities of YOURcloud without feeling like the broker is pushing them to select services or follow policies that are not in line with their requirements.

It’s not clear how well YOURcloud will define the characteristics of CSBs across the entire cloud-computing market, but NNSA’s efforts have not gone without notice within the federal government. CSBs are a hot topic across both civilian and military agencies, with the General Services Administration (GSA) and the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) both fleshing out their respective CSB strategies.

That being said, there is no better way to prove a model than by implementing a working, successful example. By implementing a CSB that supports secure, hybrid Cloud environments, NNSA and the DOE have set the bar for the next generation of Cloud Service Brokers.

This BriefingsDirect guest post comes courtesy of Jason Bloomberg, managing partner at ZapThink.

You may also be interested in:

More Stories By Jason Bloomberg

Jason Bloomberg is the leading expert on architecting agility for the enterprise. As president of Intellyx, Mr. Bloomberg brings his years of thought leadership in the areas of Cloud Computing, Enterprise Architecture, and Service-Oriented Architecture to a global clientele of business executives, architects, software vendors, and Cloud service providers looking to achieve technology-enabled business agility across their organizations and for their customers. His latest book, The Agile Architecture Revolution (John Wiley & Sons, 2013), sets the stage for Mr. Bloomberg’s groundbreaking Agile Architecture vision.

Mr. Bloomberg is perhaps best known for his twelve years at ZapThink, where he created and delivered the Licensed ZapThink Architect (LZA) SOA course and associated credential, certifying over 1,700 professionals worldwide. He is one of the original Managing Partners of ZapThink LLC, the leading SOA advisory and analysis firm, which was acquired by Dovel Technologies in 2011. He now runs the successor to the LZA program, the Bloomberg Agile Architecture Course, around the world.

Mr. Bloomberg is a frequent conference speaker and prolific writer. He has published over 500 articles, spoken at over 300 conferences, Webinars, and other events, and has been quoted in the press over 1,400 times as the leading expert on agile approaches to architecture in the enterprise.

Mr. Bloomberg’s previous book, Service Orient or Be Doomed! How Service Orientation Will Change Your Business (John Wiley & Sons, 2006, coauthored with Ron Schmelzer), is recognized as the leading business book on Service Orientation. He also co-authored the books XML and Web Services Unleashed (SAMS Publishing, 2002), and Web Page Scripting Techniques (Hayden Books, 1996).

Prior to ZapThink, Mr. Bloomberg built a diverse background in eBusiness technology management and industry analysis, including serving as a senior analyst in IDC’s eBusiness Advisory group, as well as holding eBusiness management positions at USWeb/CKS (later marchFIRST) and WaveBend Solutions (now Hitachi Consulting).

@MicroservicesExpo Stories
Without lifecycle traceability and visibility across the tool chain, stakeholders from Planning-to-Ops have limited insight and answers to who, what, when, why and how across the DevOps lifecycle. This impacts the ability to deliver high quality software at the needed velocity to drive positive business outcomes. In his general session at @DevOpsSummit at 19th Cloud Expo, Eric Robertson, General Manager at CollabNet, will discuss how customers are able to achieve a level of transparency that e...
As we enter the final week before the 19th International Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo in Santa Clara, CA, it's time for me to reflect on six big topics that will be important during the show. Hybrid Cloud This general-purpose term seems to provide a comfort zone for many enterprise IT managers. It sounds reassuring to be able to work with one of the major public-cloud providers like AWS or Microsoft Azure while still maintaining an on-site presence.
In many organizations governance is still practiced by phase or stage gate peer review, and Agile projects are forced to accommodate, which leads to WaterScrumFall or worse. But governance criteria and policies are often very weak anyway, out of date or non-existent. Consequently governance is frequently a matter of opinion and experience, highly dependent upon the experience of individual reviewers. As we all know, a basic principle of Agile methods is delegation of responsibility, and ideally ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Enzu will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Enzu’s mission is to be the leading provider of enterprise cloud solutions worldwide. Enzu enables online businesses to use its IT infrastructure to their competitive advantage. By offering a suite of proven hosting and management services, Enzu wants companies to focus on the core of their online busine...
The best way to leverage your Cloud Expo presence as a sponsor and exhibitor is to plan your news announcements around our events. The press covering Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo will have access to these releases and will amplify your news announcements. More than two dozen Cloud companies either set deals at our shows or have announced their mergers and acquisitions at Cloud Expo. Product announcements during our show provide your company with the most reach through our targeted audiences.
With emerging ideas, innovation, and talents, the lines between DevOps, release engineering, and even security are rapidly blurring. I invite you to sit down for a moment with Principle Consultant, J. Paul Reed, and listen to his take on what the intersection between these once individualized fields entails, and may even foreshadow.
If you are within a stones throw of the DevOps marketplace you have undoubtably noticed the growing trend in Microservices. Whether you have been staying up to date with the latest articles and blogs or you just read the definition for the first time, these 5 Microservices Resources You Need In Your Life will guide you through the ins and outs of Microservices in today’s world.
SYS-CON Events announced today that 910Telecom will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Housed in the classic Denver Gas & Electric Building, 910 15th St., 910Telecom is a carrier-neutral telecom hotel located in the heart of Denver. Adjacent to CenturyLink, AT&T, and Denver Main, 910Telecom offers connectivity to all major carriers, Internet service providers, Internet backbones and ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Transparent Cloud Computing (T-Cloud) Consortium will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. The Transparent Cloud Computing Consortium (T-Cloud Consortium) will conduct research activities into changes in the computing model as a result of collaboration between "device" and "cloud" and the creation of new value and markets through organic data proces...
In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Claude Remillard, Principal Program Manager in Developer Division at Microsoft, will contrast how his team used config as code and immutable patterns for continuous delivery of microservices and apps to the cloud. He will show the immutable patterns helps developers do away with most of the complexity of config as code-enabling scenarios such as rollback, zero downtime upgrades with far greater simplicity. He will also have live demos of building immutable pipe...
In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Lee Atchison, Principal Cloud Architect and Advocate at New Relic, discussed cloud as a ‘better data center’ and how it adds new capacity (faster) and improves application availability (redundancy). The cloud is a ‘Dynamic Tool for Dynamic Apps’ and resource allocation is an integral part of your application architecture, so use only the resources you need and allocate /de-allocate resources on the fly.
What do dependency resolution, situational awareness, and superheroes have in common? Meet Chris Corriere, a DevOps/Software Engineer at Autotrader, speaking on creative ways to maximize usage of all of the above. Mark Miller, Community Advocate and senior storyteller at Sonatype, caught up with Chris to learn more about what his team is up to.
So you think you are a DevOps warrior, huh? Put your money (not really, it’s free) where your metrics are and prove it by taking The Ultimate DevOps Geek Quiz Challenge, sponsored by DevOps Summit. Battle through the set of tough questions created by industry thought leaders to earn your bragging rights and win some cool prizes.
At its core DevOps is all about collaboration. The lines of communication must be opened and it takes some effort to ensure that they stay that way. It’s easy to pay lip service to trends and talk about implementing new methodologies, but without action, real benefits cannot be realized. Success requires planning, advocates empowered to effect change, and, of course, the right tooling. To bring about a cultural shift it’s important to share challenges. In simple terms, ensuring that everyone k...
A completely new computing platform is on the horizon. They’re called Microservers by some, ARM Servers by others, and sometimes even ARM-based Servers. No matter what you call them, Microservers will have a huge impact on the data center and on server computing in general. Although few people are familiar with Microservers today, their impact will be felt very soon. This is a new category of computing platform that is available today and is predicted to have triple-digit growth rates for some ...
The general concepts of DevOps have played a central role advancing the modern software delivery industry. With the library of DevOps best practices, tips and guides expanding quickly, it can be difficult to track down the best and most accurate resources and information. In order to help the software development community, and to further our own learning, we reached out to leading industry analysts and asked them about an increasingly popular tenet of a DevOps transformation: collaboration.
Application transformation and DevOps practices are two sides of the same coin. Enterprises that want to capture value faster, need to deliver value faster – time value of money principle. To do that enterprises need to build cloud-native apps as microservices by empowering teams to build, ship, and run in production. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 19th Cloud Expo, Neil Gehani, senior product manager at HPE, will discuss what every business should plan for how to structure their teams to d...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftNet Solutions will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. SoftNet Solutions specializes in Enterprise Solutions for Hadoop and Big Data. It offers customers the most open, robust, and value-conscious portfolio of solutions, services, and tools for the shortest route to success with Big Data. The unique differentiator is the ability to architect and ...
When we talk about the impact of BYOD and BYOA and the Internet of Things, we often focus on the impact on data center architectures. That's because there will be an increasing need for authentication, for access control, for security, for application delivery as the number of potential endpoints (clients, devices, things) increases. That means scale in the data center. What we gloss over, what we skip, is that before any of these "things" ever makes a request to access an application it had to...
Monitoring of Docker environments is challenging. Why? Because each container typically runs a single process, has its own environment, utilizes virtual networks, or has various methods of managing storage. Traditional monitoring solutions take metrics from each server and applications they run. These servers and applications running on them are typically very static, with very long uptimes. Docker deployments are different: a set of containers may run many applications, all sharing the resource...