Wednesday, October 27, 2010

New managed and automated paths to private clouds provide swifter adoption at lower risk for more enterprises

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod and Read a full transcript or download a copy. Sponsor: HP.

usinesses are looking to cloud-computing models to foster agility and improve time-to-market for new services. Yet attaining cloud benefits can founder without higher levels of unified server, data, network, storage, and applications management.

These typically disparate forms of management must now come together in new ways to mutually support a variety of different cloud approaches -- public, private, and hybrid. Without adoption of such Business Service Automation (BSA) capabilities, those deploying applications on private and hybrid clouds will almost certainly encounter increased complexity, higher risk, and stubborn cost structures.

This latest BriefingsDirect discussion therefore focuses on finding low-risk, high-reward paths to cloud computing by using increased automation and proven reference models for cloud management -- and by breaking down traditional IT management silos. In doing so, the progression toward cloud benefits will come more quickly, at lower total cost, and with an ability to rapidly scale to even more applications and data.

We're here with two executives from HP Software & Solutions to learn more about what BSA is and why it's proving essential to managed and productive cloud computing adoption: Mark Shoemaker, Executive Program Manager for Cloud Computing in the Software & Solutions Group at HP, and Venkat Devraj, Chief Technology Officer for Application Automation, also in HP’s Software & Solutions Group. The discussion is moderated by BriefingsDirect's Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions.

Here are some excerpts:
Shoemaker: There is hardly a place we go that we don’t end up talking to our customers about cloud. Most of the enterprise customers we talk to are looking at private cloud, the internal cloud solution that they own, that they then provide to their business partners, whether that’s the development teams or other elements in their business. Most of them are looking to build on the virtualization work that they've already done.

They want to improve their productivity, definitely get better utilization out of what they have already got. They want IT to be your better partner in the business. What that means is to shorten the time that the business has to wait for the services.

Devraj: There is also an interesting micro trend that’s occurring. A lot of the application teams, end-user business teams, are getting increasingly sophisticated. They're learning about private cloud implementations. Consequently, they're demanding levels of service from IT that are difficult to provide without a private cloud.

For example, because of things like agile development methodologies, application teams are doing a lot more application deployments and code releases than ever before. It's not uncommon to see dozens of application releases for different applications happening during the same day.

IT operations are just bombarded with these requirements, and requests, and they are just unable to keep up based on yesterday’s processes, which are relatively static. These application teams and business unit teams are quite influential.

They're even willing to fund specific initiatives to allow their teams to work in self-service mode, and IT ops are finding themselves in reactive mode. They have to support them, make their internal processes more fluid and dynamic, and leveraging technology that allows that kind of dynamism.

... The third-party companies, the cloud providers, the pure-play server enablers, have an unfair advantage. Because they were started relatively recently, in the last few years, they have the advantage of standardized platforms and delivery units.

A lot to deliver

They can say, "Okay, I'm going to deliver only Linux-based platforms, Windows-based platforms, or certain applications." When you look at the typical enterprise today, however, IT has a lot more to deliver.

There is a lot of prevailing heterogeneity in terms of multiple software platforms and versions. There is a lack of standardization. It's very difficult to talk about cloud and delivery within the enterprise in the same breath, when you look at these kinds of technical challenges.

As a result, IT is undergoing a lot of pressure -- but they have to deliver given the kind of challenges that they face. That’s going to require a lot of education and access to the right kind of technology, training, and guidance.

Shoemaker: Just to add to Venkat’s comment, we're seeing the business driving IT and demanding that agility and that flexibility. We talk to a lot of our customers, where their own coworkers have taken corporate credit cards and gone out into the public cloud, procured space, and have begun developing outside of them. IT really has to get in front of this. They have to manage all this.

... The one thing that’s different about cloud is that it really is a supply chain. It’s the supply chain of IT technology that the business consumes. If you think about what a supply chain is, it’s something that’s got to be repeatable. It has to be governed, and it provides a baseline or foundation and building blocks to build those services that you can then customize on top of the business.

The farther up that you can go with your standard building blocks, the less difficult it is to manage and focus on the custom business-facing functions.

So, the farther up that you can go with your standard building blocks, the less difficult it is to manage and focus on the custom business-facing functions on the front-end.

To do this, cloud has helped us out in a lot of ways. One of the challenges IT has always had is to get the business to consume standards. Because of a lot of hype in the market, the business absolutely is convinced that they get it, and they want the business benefits that cloud offers.

Even if the business decides to go to a public cloud, they still have to consume those elements in a standard fashion. There's no way out of that.

Devraj: And yet, the software used by these enterprises tends to be disparate, heterogeneous, and requires a lot of domain knowledge to be able to manage, resulting in significant delays and bottlenecks associated with service delivery. Those processes just don’t scale in the cloud.

Different platforms

At Stratavia we had built a patented technology to manage and control varied software stacks, such as databases, web servers, application servers, and even well-known packaged applications, including Microsoft Exchange, Oracle E-Business Suite, and SAP.

The content that I talk about becomes an abstraction layer, where the customer, the end user, the people who consume the services, see a very easy to understand service catalog. They can click on it. They can choose some menu options, some values from a drop-down box, and then specify exactly what they need, and have the response come back in minutes and in hours, rather than days and weeks, as is traditionally the case.

For example, just at the database layer, within the enterprise, it's very common to see four or five different platforms in use, such as DB2, SQL Server, Oracle, and so on. By automating the operations management lifecycle around these layers, Stratavia has made it possible for the enterprise to deliver and manage these assets as a service within the context of the cloud.

As more and more of HP’s and Stratavia’s joint customers started seeing value in that capability, HP brought Stratavia into its BSA/Business Technology Optimization umbrella.

There's a big gap in IT today, which is IT/Ops Engineering or IT/Ops Architecture. That’s a big missing silo within IT/Ops. And lot of the operators today that rely on scripts, command-line stuff, and point-and-click tools need to evolve themselves to more of an architect approach. They need more of taking stock of the big picture, and taking the tribal knowledge that they have in their heads and looking at the out-of-the-box content that HP provides and selecting the right content that corresponds to their tribal knowledge.

When they go into the cloud, the underlying management, things like compliance and governance, are not out of whack. They're able to successfully take that knowledge, put it in there, and then, in their new role as architects or engineering folks, they're able to watch, measure, and make modifications as appropriate.

So, the role that people play, that key subject matter experts play, is very crucial as part of walking before running with automation.

Gardner: Now that you have mentioned Stratavia, and for the benefit of our listeners and readers, HP has acquired Stratavia, and there was also quite a bit of related product and service news on Sept. 15 around BSA as the acquisition was unveiled.

Shoemaker: Obviously, the Stratavia acquisition was a huge, huge win for us, and puts us in a great position to help our customers transform their infrastructure. ... And several other things have happened in the last 60 days. We had VMworld, and we presented a cohesive strategy for infrastructure and even PaaS built on the BladeSystem Matrix hardware platform that we have, Converged Infrastructure. We've combined that with two other pieces and a piece of Cloud Service Automation (CSA) software.

CloudStart is a consulting and a professional services-led engagement capability where we come in and work with the customer to get that transformation process nailed, so we can quickly get them moving into the cloud benefits.

On the back end of that, there is another piece that we announced called Cloud Maps, which is really more knowledge, but in a different capacity, in that it offers downloadable templates, preconfigured applications, and best practices for sizing.

Cloud is a solution

We see the Stratavia acquisition fueling this fire, because in the end, cloud is a solution, and a solution needs content, and content wins. Content is what the customer is able to consume and use day one, when the solution is in. So it's important. And we've done a lot there.

We now have a best-in-class content provider in Stratavia that’s come on board to help round out the capabilities and add more into what the customer can get out of our solutions in very quick order.

All that sits on a recently refreshed BSA portfolio, with significant enhancements and new capabilities across network, automations, servers, and storage, that really makes all this happen.

... Let's face it, a lot of the CIOs are looking at a data center that’s packed full of applications that they probably don’t feel as if they have got a good handle on. Now, cloud is coming into the picture, and they've got two things to do here.

Number one, they need to start applying those new business methodologies to IT around providing cloud and the things that go with that, but also they have got a transformation piece to go along. And that can be very daunting.

What we've done is looked at the experience of helping previous customers do that work and we have applied that into the CloudStart and Cloud Maps, CloudStart being the planning and the upfront work that you need to get done.

So, we're right there with you. You don’t have to read chapter one of the book.

Then, as we put the infrastructure in with CSA for Matrix in the frame, we're embedding some of the CSA software inside of the Blade Matrix frame. So you have a way to build infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and manage it through the platform throughout the lifecycle.

Then, on the back end of that, we have the preconfigured application templates. If I need a SQL Server image to put into the system, I can pull that from Cloud Maps, build it into a framework and offer that very quickly. I don’t have to go and figure out how to size for this piece or what golden template looks like for this application.

It's really about obtaining a running start into the cloud, and one that’s not going to leave you wanting in a year or two. You have to be careful. Cloud is a great enablement technology and a lot of people are looking at IaaS, but that’s the starting point for it, and then you have to manage everything that you put inside of that as well.
Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod and Read a full transcript or download a copy. Sponsor: HP.

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Monday, October 25, 2010

FuseSource gains new autonomy to focus on OSS infrastructure model, Apache Community innovation, cloud opportunities

Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod and Read a full transcript or download a copy. Sponsor: FuseSource.

The FUSE family of software is now under the FuseSource name and has today gained new autonomy from Progress Software with its own corporate identity.

Part of the IONA Technologies acquisition by Progress Software in 2008, FuseSource has now become its own company, owned by Progress, but now more independent, to aggressively pursue its open source business model and to leverage the community development process strengths.

In anticipation of today's news, our discussion here targets the rapid growth, increased relevance, and new market direction for major open source middleware and integration software under the Apache license.

We'll also look at where FuseSource projects are headed in the near future. [NOTE: Larry Alston also recently joined FuseSource as president.]

Even as the IT mega vendors are consolidating more elements of IT infrastructure, and in some cases, buying up open-source projects and companies, the role and power of open source for enterprise and service providers alike has never been more popular or successful. Virtualization, cloud computing, mobile computing, and services orientation are all supporting more interest and increased mainstream use of open-source infrastructure.

Here now to discuss how FuseSource is therefore evolving we're joined by Debbie Moynihan, Director of Marketing for FuseSource, and Rob Davies, Director of Engineering for FuseSource. The discussion is moderated by BriefingsDirect's Dana Gardner, Principal Analyst at Interarbor Solutions.

Here are some excerpts:
Moynihan: Over the past couple of years, there has been a lot of focus on cost reduction, and that resulted in a lot of people looking at open source who maybe wouldn’t have looked at it in the past.

The other thing that’s really happened with open source is that some of the early adopters who started out with a single project have now standardized on FuseSource products across the entire organization. So there are many more proof-points of large global organizations rolling out open source in mission-critical production environments. Those two factors have driven a lot of people to think about open source, and to start adopting open source.

Then, the whole cloud trend came along. When you think about scaling in the cloud, open source is perfect for that. You don’t have to think about the licensing cost as you scale up. So, there are a lot of trends that have been happening and that have really been really helpful. We're very happy about them helping push open source into the mainstream.

From a FuseSource perspective, we've been seeing over 100 percent growth each year in our business, and that’s part of the reason for some of the things we're going to talk about today.

Davies: We've been around in this space for a while, but the earlier adopters who were just trying out in distinct groups are now rolling this out into broader production. Because of that, there is this snowball effect. People see that larger organizations are actually using open source for their infrastructure and their integration. That gives them more confidence to do the same.

I recently spoke to a large customer of ours in the telco space. They had this remit. Any open source that came in, they wouldn’t put into mission-critical situations, until they kicked the tires for a good while -- at least a couple of years.

But because there has been this push for more open source projects following open standards, people are now more willing to have a go using open source software.

Snowball effect

In fact, if you look at the numbers of some of our larger customers, they are using Apache ServiceMix and Apache ActiveMQ to support many thousands of business transactions, and this is business-critical stuff. That alone is enough to give people more confidence that open source is the right way to go.

... When you look at cloud, there are different issues you have to overcome. There is the issue about deploying into the cloud. How do you do that? If you're using a public cloud, there are different mechanisms for deploying stuff. And there are open source projects already in existence to make that easier to do.

This is something we have found internally as well. We deploy a lot of internal software, when we are doing our big scale testing. We make choices about which particular vendors we're going to use. So, we have to abstract the way we are doing things. We did that as an open source project, which we have been using internally.

You have to have choice. You can’t really dictate to use it this way or the other way. You've got to have a whole menu of different options for connecting.

When you get to the point of deploying, it’s how do you actually interface with these things? There is always going to be this continuing trend towards standards for integration. How are you going to integrate? Are you going to use SOAP? Are you going to use RESTful services? Would you like to use messaging, for example, to actually interface into an integration structure?

You have to have choice. You can’t really dictate to use it this way or the other way. You've got to have a whole menu of different options for connecting. This is what we try to provide in our software.

We always try to be agnostic to the technology, as much as how you connect to the infrastructure that we provide. But, we also tend to be as open as we can about the different ways of hooking these disparate systems together. That’s the only way you can really be successful in providing something like integration as a service and a cloud-like environment. You have to be completely open.

Best of both worlds

Moynihan: Progress is launching a new company called FuseSource that will be completely focused on the open source business model. We're really excited as a team. The FuseSource team has been an independent business unit, since IONA was acquired by Progress Software. We have been fairly independent within the company, but separated as our own company we'll be able to be completely independent in terms of how we do our marketing, sales, support, services, and engineering.

When you're part of a large organization, there are certain processes that everyone is supposed to follow. Within Progress, we are doing things slightly differently (or very differently depending on the area) because the needs of the open source market are different. So being our own company we'll have that independence to do everything that makes sense for the open-source users, and I'm pretty excited about that.

From a practical perspective, the business model is very different. In traditional enterprise software sales, there is a license fee which is typically a large upfront license cost relative to the entire cost over the lifetime of that software. Then, you have your annual maintenance charges and your services, training, and things like that.

From an open source perspective, typically upfront, there is no license cost. Our model is that there is no license cost. It’s a subscription support model, where there is a monthly fee, but the way that it is accounted for and the way that it works with the customer is very different. That's one of the reasons we split out our business. The way that we work with the customers and the way they consume the software are very different. It’s a month-to-month subscription support charge, but no license charge.

That’s also the reason people like cloud. You pay as you go. You scale as you go. And you don’t have that upfront capital expenditure cost. For new projects, it can be really hard to get money right now. All these benefits are why we're seeing so much growth in FuseSource.

While we do have some level of product management for open source, a lot of it is based around packaging, delivery, licensing, and these types of things, because our engineers are hearing directly from customers on a moment-by-moment basis. They're seeing the feedback in the community, getting out there, and partnering with our customers. So, from an economic perspective, the model is different.

Now, being backed by Progress Software provides us the benefit that customers can have that assurance that we're backed by a large organization. But, having FuseSource as standalone company, as you said, gives us that independence around decision making and really being like a startup.

We'll be able to have our own processes in any functional area that we need to best meet the needs of the open source users.

Davies: From a technical perspective, it’s really good for us. The shackles are off. There’s a lot of suddenly reinvigorating that seems to move forward. We've got a lot of really good ideas that we want to push out and roll out over the coming year, particularly enhancing of the products we already have, but also moving onto new areas.

There's a big excitement, like you would expect when you have got a startup. It just feels like a startup mentality. People are very passionate about what they're doing inside FuseSource.

Because those shackles have been taken away, it means that we can actually start innovating more in the direction we really want to drive our software too. It’s really good.

It's even more so, now that we have become autonomous of Progress. Not that working inside Progress was a bad thing, but we were constrained by some of the rigors and procedures that you have to go through when you are part of a larger organization. Because those shackles have been taken away, it means that we can actually start innovating more in the direction we really want to drive our software too. It’s really good.

Moynihan: From a customer perspective, this change will have a small but significant impact. We are continuing to do everything that we have been doing, but we will be able to have even more independence in the way that we do things. So it will all be beneficial to customers.

We have also launched a new community site at, which we're pretty excited about. We were planning to do that and we've been working on that for several months. That just provides some additional usability and ability to find things on the site.

Overall, it will be really good for our customers. We've talked with them, and they're pretty excited about it.
Listen to the podcast. Find it on iTunes/iPod and Read a full transcript or download a copy. Sponsor: FuseSource.

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