Software Defined Data Center vs. Cloud Computing what’s the difference. You have to watch to find out.
Software Defined Data Center vs. Cloud Computing what’s the difference. You have to watch to find out.
If you’ve never watched these Youtube videos from Cisco you should check them out. They are almost as good as my Tech Talks . At the end of most of them they decide what part of the technology discussed is the unicorn. Meaning what is realistic today and what still needs to mature. The topic of this particular post was about the Software Defined Data Center (SDDC). I think SDDC is somewhat a unicorn in itself. Which makes the type of Cloud Management that brings value to organizations another unicorn.
To have SDDC you need to have mature Software Defined Networking (SDN), Software Defined Storage (SDS) and even if it’s not a proper term let’s keep it rolling Software Defined Compute (SDC). Of the three SDC is obviously very mature. It doesn’t matter if we are talking VMware, KVM, XEN or Hyper-V. It seems as if vendors have SDC under control. It’s the other two area’s that have some work in the form of both standards and an actual operating model in the case of SDN.
Looking at SDS as it kind of exists in various technical forms. Vendors have virtualized or abstracted storage for a long time now. You can present storage in a SDDC no matter what the backend physical components make up the block layer storage. Using controller software you can present NFS, SMB or LUN’s to clients using these underlying protocols. The physical storage can be white box servers with SATA drives or an EMC VMAX with a tray of Solid State Drives (SSD). The gray is when it comes to having visibility into the abstracting and presenting the different capabilities of the underlying storage. Each vendor goes about it in a different way. There a great write up on Duncan Epping’s Yellow-Bricks site that goes into detail on the state of SDS.
Then there’s SDN. I won’t repeat a lot of the challenges that face SDN but if you want to start here on this blog.
This brings us back to Cloud Management. Ultimately you have to ask yourself what capabilities would you like in a Cloud Management solution. Some of which depends on if you are looking to extend your infrastructure or develop cloud aware applications. The difference can basically be broken down into the vCloud vs. OpenStack question. But ultimately you want to be able to deliver as much control via abstraction to the SDDC components of your cloud without concern of the underlying hardware. You want the end user of the Cloud Management solution to be able to select the storage attributes related to their service, the network attributes, along with the compute attributes.
Most mature Cloud Management systems allow you accomplish these goals by interfacing directly with the API’s of the individual vendors of these products. You want to deliver a “Fast” pool of disk to your application. Well today the Cloud Management solutions need to communicate directly with the API’s of your storage vendor. What if you want multiple storage vendors in the backend? This is where SDS with standards will step in and help. The current approach is for solutions like OpenStack to build that capability hardwired into the Cloud Management platform. When the unicorn of Cloud Management is reached there will not be a need to hard wire the capability. The ideal future your “Fast” storage can be backend by VMAX SSD’s or Hitachi SSD’s without making major configuration changes to your Cloud Management platform. It would just be done at the middleware layer that’s SDS.
I actually started this post to just be a link the the video. But hey I like to talk.
Here's the narrative that cloud vendors would like us to believe: there are infinite workloads flowing to clouds of infinite capacity. There's enough business for all, keep moving.
But there is nagging worry, sparked anew by Rackspace's laggard Q1 cloud growth, that the appetite for cloud services may not be unlimited after all. For its first quarter ending March 31, Rackspace(s rax)logged $91 million in public cloud revenue, up 4 percent sequentially and 40 percent year over year.
Scott Lowe was a guest on the latest episode of VMware Community Podcast and was discussing Network Virtualization. It was a can’t miss episode of the Community Podcast. Scott Lowe is probably one of the most technically diverse and deep cross discipline experts that I’ve read. He has deep experience with both Networking and Server Virtualization. He was a guest on the podcast to discuss Network Virtualization. I posed the question in the live chat on the difference between SDN and what VMware is defining as “Network Virtualization.” I’ll get to his response on my question in a second.
The host John Troyer brought up the argument that most networking professional bring up when discussing ”Network Virtualization.” The claim is that virtualization already exists in network technologies. You have VXLAN, VLAN’s and network overlays. Scott did a great job of explaining that while these technologies virtualize transport of the network they don’t actually change the operation model of networking.
As he explained when you examine the benefits of server virtualization the main benefit outside of consolidation is the change in operations. Done right, server virtualization can allow you to completely change the way you deliver and manage your compute and storage to an extent. I like to say virtualization is like the DVR. You can record, pause and rewind your server operations since they are abstracted from the physical hardware.
Network virtualization is similar to server virtualization as it lets you abstract the operations of your network from the physical access layer. Configurations can be recorded, copied, paused and rewinded. They way you provision and manage your network is completely changed by network virtualization.
How is this different from Software Defined Networking or SDN? I think VMware (who Scott works for) would like you to consider SDN as just the abstraction of the control plane from the physical plane. So in theory you could have SDN run inside of a virtual network controlling that control plan of the virtualized network. I believe the industry outside of VMware is defining SDN in a broader sense. When you think of the other Software Defined data center components such as storage its all about abstracting the management and presentation of these services from the hardware.
So, the difference between SDN and Network Virtualization depending on who you are asking. A VMware network guys would tell you SDN is about abstracting the control plane while Network Virtualization is about abstracting the entire management layer of the network including SDN. While some others would tell you that Network Virtualization is just another way of saying SDN.
He did make a statement that makes me wonder about the future of Virtualized Networks vs. SDN. My vision of SDN would be that the application is aware of the underlying SDN based network. The application can make a call to the control plane to give requirements for a connection and the SDN controller will make the appropriate pathing and connectivity decisions. Scott missioned the similarity of applications deployed on vSphere with application deployed on a VMware Virtualized Network. The application and server would treat it just like any other network it has physical connectivity.
I’m looking forward into learning the nuance differences between the two definitions and operation.
Either way I highly encourage you to listen to the podcast. Well worth the hour.
I’ve been asking myself the question ever since VMware joined OpenStack, “what’s the play?” Do they really want OpenStack to succeed. Isn’t a more capable OpenStack project counter productive to their vCloud philosophy.
According the this VMware blog post, VMware is a top 10 contributor to OpenStack Grizzly (Latest stable release). Martin Casado, who came on board to VMware via their acquisition of OpenSorce SDN company Nicira makes the argument that OpenStack is in the best interests of VMware. The Nicira purchase made sense as VMware’s software defined everything strategy plays nice with the whole SDN movement and everyone was snapping up any company with SDN marketing strategy. Oracle even brought Xsigo with the aura of SDN even if they were a converged networking play. But OpenStack benefiting VMware?
Ever sense the purchase and VMware joining OpenStack, I’ve been skeptical that their intentions were “pure”. They seemed like direct competitors from a vCloud/Cloud Foundry vs. OpenStack perspective. But since joining the project VMware has shed Cloud Foundry by spinning it off and become one of the most active contributors to the project. As the Casado blog post notes, VMware seems to be throwing seeds all over the Software Defined Data Center space and seeing what grows. If they can convince enterprises to build their private Clouds using the vSphere infrastructures they already have and bolting OpenStack on top then it’s still a win for them. I don’t know if you checked but vSphere is expensive.
It makes sense if VMware can deliver a vCloud level of integration between OpenStack and vSphere and keep their existing customers happy while dipping their toe in the Open Cloud movement. And if you really think about it OpenStack and vCloud are positioned at two completely different use cases. So, an argument can be made that VMware is actually going after a market that really never existed for them prior to their involvement in OpenStack.
This has been an interesting few months for Cloud computing.
Thoughts on if the traditional enterprise has the chops for open source cloud management software or cloud management software in general.
It’s very tempting to compare vCloud and OpenStack. It’s very difficult to imagine an enterprise Cloud that both would co-exist. I wanted to take some time and really think about the two solutions and give a break down of why comparing the two solutions head to head really doesn’t work.
This isn’t about directly comparing vCloud and OpenStack Public Clouds. The drivers for a Cloud provider selecting a Cloud management platform are different from an Enterprise selecting a Cloud manager. However, selecting one over another more or less locks you into either vCloud or OpenStack Public Clouds. So, it is a consideration but we are just looking at traditional enterprise public Clouds on this post. (Hey I have to save the consultants some work)
It’s important that we take a bit of time to frame the discussion of what I consider the “typical enterprise.” This is the non-high tech enterprise. We aren’t looking at developer heavy environments such as Paypal, Netflix etc. We are looking at the enterprise that is highly virtualized, which looking at the market means VMware or Hyper-v
with or KVM and others to a much lessor extent. So, the “typical” administrator will have strong Windows skills.
I believe I’m of the same elk of the typical traditional VMware enterprise sysadmin. If I were to still be in the business of administering servers, I’d be a Windows expert and feel comfortable managing a number Linux appliances within the environment. Thinking about the nature of these traditional enterprise admins brought me to thinking about how I’d go about evaluating OpenStack and vCloud. This isn’t as simple as comparing Hyper-V to Xen. OpenStack and vCloud look to please two difference targets with the obvious overlap.
I like the Networkworld article asking if OpenStack is mature enough for the Enterprise. I believe it helps set the stage for what OpenStack is and is not. Earlier, I asked the question if the Enterprise has a need for OpenStack. When I wrote the article if you wanted to bring OpenStack in-house and compare it to vCloud you had to basically have a different skill set than someone who would manage vCloud. This is where you begin to see the difference between the two solutions.
OpenStack is a platform that’s designed from the ground up to provide and infrastructure to software developer’s to build Cloud aware applications. I believe OpenStack see’s application developer’s as the ultimate customer. This is an important observation. With earlier versions of OpenStack the administrator who wanted to take it for a dry run would find that they needed developer lite skills. This is a different skillset than most administrators that run Windows infrastructures. Most Linux admins wouldn’t have too much of a problem installing the solution. However, once you did get it installed what do you do with it? There was no portal that we see in solutions live vCenter and System Center Operation’s Manager (SCOM).
After, getting OpenStack installed you had all of the services running that allowed applications to leverage the virtual resources through OpenStack’s API’s. The admin had some ability to define and configure physical compute, storage and network resources for provisioning via the command line and scripts. This is foreign to the target administrator and is a completely different approach to consuming physical resources vs. the VMware model. It’s not better or worse, it’s different. However, who are the solutions targeting when it comes to the enterprise?
Developer’s build applications and don’t manage the data center. But given the option of which solution best supports their goals for building Cloud aware applications, I believe they’d understand and prefer the OpenStack model for Cloud management. But, again they don’t run the data center.
Administrators install, configure and administer data center management tools. They normally have a different set of requirements and general interests for management software than developers. Their roles are fundamentally different and this shows from the actually installation of the solutions.
That’s why I like how OpenStack is maturing. Rackspace now offers a packaged install for OpenStack. I haven’t played around with it yet but I plan to get it in the lab and see if the interface makes sense to a traditional Sysadmin such as I used to be.
VMware actually has the opposite problem. vCloud does a great job of provisioning physical resources similar to how we do and understand it today. vCloud wasn’t designed from the ground up to provide a different approach to infrastructure consumption. It’s a Cloud manager bolted on top of vSphere. The previous VMware management team’s approach was to marry Cloud Foundry and vCloud to provide the rich API’s that developer’s need to build Cloud aware applications within the enterprise. However, VMware has since refocused on its core hypervisor and Data Center management software products. Cloud Foundry will continue to be a hypervisor independent solution for building Cloud applications.
I’m not a fashion guy but I know if I buy a pair of Nike Air Jordans and a Air Jordan Jump Suit then I have a pretty good idea that I will have a matching outfit without much thought. This is vCloud and vSphere. They are more or less the same. If the end customer are other administrators then it’s easy to design a consumption model based on provisioning virtual machines or vApps. For large organizations that have multiple system administrators that need to provision virtual machines, vCloud Director just feels comfortable. It takes more work to make developers feel the same way.
So, like most software evaluations it boils down to the business requirements and the features needed. What type of service are you trying to deliver and to what consumers of the Cloud ends up being the driver. After the decision is made I think from a pure OpenStack vs. VMware becomes a much simpler comparison with one caveat. That being your Public Cloud strategy. If you have some religious, political or business driver that forces OpenStack over VMware or vice versa then you have some work.
Either solution can be made to fit the needed use case but you will need customize each solution to get you to where you need to be functionally. This could have been a much bigger post that looked at the actual features and more limitations of each platform. But, that’s what the comments section and Twitter are for
Last year, I considered going to VMworld to cover it for VirtualizedGeek.com and I was in the middle of helping to launch a community Cloud based on vCloud so, it made sense from a professional perspective as well. I decided not to go because I was in the middle of a large video conference system deployment and just couldn’t get away. My company at the time was a VMware government partner so there was value to be had in asking my employer to flip the bill for the conference.
This year, I work for a very large consulting company that likes to maintain their independence from vendors they may evaluate including VMware. So, I wouldn’t be able to get them to sponsor my VMworld conference fees and expenses. This got me to thinking if I’d be willing to flip the bill for VMworld myself. The conference is basically $1500 plus travel expenses from Chicago.
I’d look at this as a personal investment in my education and expanding my knowledge not just about VMware products but the whole Cloud and Data Center ecosystem. There is great value in the tools I’d acquire but the question is can I discover the same products and tools outside of vendor hosted conferences such as VMworld? I believe the answer to the question is yes but with a little more work on my part.
There is also the social part of VMworld which no matter how active you are on Twitter you just can’t replace that in-person interaction with the people you see everyday virtually on the social networks. So, I guess the bottom line is do I want to pay $1500 to meet you guys and gals
I’d like to know if you guys are willing to pay your own way to vendor conferencing?
Since Google likes to tackle complex problems that don’t have an obvious use right away and they have tons of cash and more smart people than most university faculties, I have an interesting project for them to tackle. I call it the Crowd Source Cloud. The idea popped into my head when I was listening to “This Week in Google.” They mentioned Walmart’s desire to crowd source delivery. Then I started to think about all of the crowd sourced distributed computing projects in the past years. The two that came to mind were the SETI project for finding intelligent life and the Folding project for cancer research.
Both projects basically leveraged idle cycles on machines across the web to solve really complicated problems that could be distributed across multiple (millions) of nodes. This got me to ask the question why not come up with a crowd sourced Cloud that allows a broker such as Google to offer inexpensive IaaS nodes or even PaaS infrastructures via the same model. There could be hypervisors installed on everything from Desktops, Laptops and Phone phones that run cheap virtual machines images. They’d basically use the idle cycles of these machines and could move from one machine to another and be more or less resilient.
Their expertise in doing really complicated stuff plus super high speed residential broad band like Google Fiber kind of makes this type of service feasible. I can think of a ton of challenges from networking, security etc but from a pure academic perspective I’d love to see this type of solution. I’m sure their are academic and commercial uses for such a virtual cloud but again, I’ll defer to the folks way smarter than me to figure out the use cases.
What are your thought’s? Have I just taken too much cell phone radiation to the head or is this a worth while research project for “The Google?”
I know I’ve poked fun at Yahoo! in the past but don’t get me wrong, for Cloud computing professionals I believe they are one of the most exciting places to work.
Yahoo!’s current VP of Cloud resigned to become the CTO of Go Daddy. I don’t believe Marissa will have a shortage of eager candidates applying to fill the role. Yahoo may be stale to developers when its compared to traditional Silicon Valley environments but there’s no question they have an exciting environment for fans of big data and Cloud computing. They are large and early backers of Hadoop and have a wealth of big data to leverage.
Yahoo! Mail is still among the largest of free mail solutions and very few sites have more traffic than Yahoo!’s home page. I asked the question earlier to my peers if they’d answer a call from a Yahoo! recruiter and the answer was yes across the board.
If you are in the sexy application developer crowd Yahoo! may not be very exciting but us virtualization geeks think otherwise.