Monday, October 20, 2008

Three Rules Happy ...

When it comes to cloud computing, I have three basic rules of happiness. However, before we get to my rules, I have some absolute minimum requirements that any service must meet before I'd even consider it to be cloudy. These include :-

  • I have readable access to all my data, code, frameworks and meta data that may have been created as a result of me using the service. It's my data after all, not yours.
  • The service is appropriately secure, scalable & resilient and must be charged for on an "as use" basis. I certainly don't want to pay for something that I'm not using, which means I also don't want to pay for using my own machines.
  • The T&Cs should be clear and provide me with some guarantee that the service will not be terminated nor fundamental elements changed without reasonable notice and an alternative solution.
  • Pricing should be transparent, efficient and competitive.

Assuming the service meets my basic requirements, then I have three basic rules of happiness:-

Rule 1: I want to run the service on my own machine.
This enables me to trial out a service before even considering adopting a cloud version and gives me a last resort fall-back option. I certainly don't want to be in an environment where I can't do this for whatever reason, including vendor failure or discontinuation of a product.

Rule 2: I want to easily migrate the service from my machine to a cloud provider and vice versa with a few clicks of a button.
If the test went well then I'll probably consider dipping my toe in the water. Hence I want an easy to use transfer mechanism for my data (including any code or framework elements) from my machine to an external cloud provider and vice versa. I do not want to learn any specialised skills nor require any technical knowledge beyond pressing a button.

Rule 3: I want to easily migrate the service from one cloud provider to another with a few clicks of a button.
If I'm going to use a cloud service then I want a choice in providers and an easy mechanism of switching between alternatives. I do not want to discover that switching only covers half of the service and fails to cover other elements like the storage subsystem or a messaging service.

For these reasons, I'm not very happy with most of the current cloud offerings.

16 comments:

Stephen McCarron said...

Infrastructure cloud providers like www.hosting365.com meet all of those three rules.

By focussing on providing 'virtual hardware' powered by VMware, everything up to the entire VMware image is portable...

swardley said...

Hi Stephen,

That sounds like positive news. I didn't see Hosting365 as part of the vCloud partner list. Do you know if there is a reason why they're not?

Ideally someone would put together a podcast of a consumer easily and simply switching between that environment and another provider (say xCalibre or Amazon) and back again and then to their own machines. Do you know if anyone has?

Obviously a live running transition rather than a shutdown process would be ideal but a simple demonstration of say a load balanced lamp stack with a clustered database server switching between environments would be good.

Also I couldn't find clear utility like pricing for the service, maybe I was looking in the wrong area. Any pointers would be useful.

Portability at the VM layer between different nodes should be relatively straightforward, the problem always seem to start when you include other framework elements - such as message systems, storage systems etc.

Leon Brocard said...

I do like how Google App Engine pretty much gets the first two down.

Anonymous said...

I love how the traditional hosting companies (such as hosting365.com) are now starting to redefine themselves as cloud providers (which in many ways they are) but continuing to miss the whole utility pricing/self service nature of the term. Not that infrastructure providers are the only ones at it; Oracle's debut on EC2 also lacked that pay-as-you-go model so essential to cloud economics.

On another note, I see 3D printing is starting to take off, this time an Irish company using paper and glue to manufacture 3D models ...
http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/finance/2008/0704/1215054784815.html

Tom

Gavin said...

and after my FOWA talk, can I add a requirement that "the energy consumption of my usage of the cloud, and the cloud itself, is measured and accessible".

If we have an allocation of 2 tonnes per annum per person as a target, a billion PCs and servers are really going to add to the mess.

swardley said...

Hi Leon, yep Google AppEngine gets close but then it FAILS with bigTable.

swardley said...

Hi Tom,

Though everyone is trying to be cloudy, many seem to fail to grasp the fundamental shift from a product to a service world.

Hence we're getting a lot of "my product as a service" ideas rather than the development of a true service economy. So interoperability / portability / utility pricing / marketplaces / transparency and so on are generally lacking from today's incarnation of the cloud.

As for 3D printing and the future commoditisation of the manufacturing process itself, well it's happening ... slowly.

swardley said...

Hi Gavin,

First of all your talk at FOWA was awe-inspiring and it was a great shame that so many people missed it.

"the energy consumption of my usage of the cloud, and the cloud itself, is measured and accessible".

Absolutely - but I'll call this Rule 0 as it should come top of the list.

Stephen said...

We should be on the vCloud list, just abck from a meeting last week in London with VMware VP. At the moment, we sell our cloud platform on a 'non utility' basis - ie: you buy a set amount of resources on a monthly basis, but can burst and scale rapidly on demand.

We are developing a new brand to offer comprehensive utility models for storage and compute at the moment.

swardley said...

Sounds interesting Stephen.

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Medyum said...

I do like how Google App Engine pretty much gets the first two down.

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