Monday, April 30, 2012

The Fear of Clouds

Lucy Van Pelt: Are you afraid of responsibility? If you are, then you have hypengyophobia. 
Charlie Brown: I don't think that's quite it. 
Lucy Van Pelt: How about cats? If you're afraid of cats, you have ailurophasia. 
Charlie Brown:Well, sort of, but I'm not sure. 
Lucy Van Pelt: Are you afraid of staircases? If you are, then you have climacaphobia. Maybe you have thalassophobia. This is fear of the ocean, or gephyrobia, which is the fear of crossing bridges. Or maybe you have Nephophobia. Do you think you have Nephophobia? 
Charlie Brown: What's Nephophobia? 
Lucy Van Pelt: The fear of clouds. 
Charlie Brown: THAT'S IT!

Cloud computing is a herald of fear for many IT professionals. But, if IT history is any indicator, the impact it will have on IT jobs is overstated. 

A Tale of Two Trends

Outsourcing: The IT fashion trend at the beginning of the century was outsourcing of IT operations. By outsourcing your IT operations to a strategic partner it would help companies focus on their "core competencies". Furthermore, outsourcing to a company like IBM Global Services would cut labor costs, training costs, and promised superior technical solutions because they could attract top IT talent.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Catalogs and Fast Provisioning

Catalogs are a collection of VM templates, vApps, and OS media that are available to organizations for deployment. There are typically two catalogs, the first catalog is the master catalog that is maintained by the cloud providers (IT infrastructure staff). Typically these consist of the server operating system (Windows and Linux) loaded with infrastructure monitoring and security tools. Templates could also include core infrastructure components like IIS and SQL. The intention of the master catalog is to provide templates to the users in an Organization, but they can't edit them.

You are going to want to create a master organization for you master catalog. This organization should be set with PAYG (pay as you go) so it does not consume any resources from the cluster because they are never powered on.

Organizations then make copies of these templates and customize them to meet their specific business unit needs. These modified templates become a part of the organization catalog.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Saturday, April 21, 2012


We are finally going to dive into VMware vCloud Director vApps. Yeah! vApps consist of a single or multiple virtual machines that are packaged and maintained as a single entity. vApps act like a wrapper for multi-tier applications, for example if you had a web application for client information called Contact that consisted of 3 web servers, 1 application server, and 1 database server they would be contained in a vApp cell.

This diagram gives a depiction of the Contact vApp:

vApps aren't new to the VMware ecosystem, they existed in vSphere, but the entire vCloud Director infrastructure is designed to work with vApps. Even if you deploy a single virtual machine it will be in a vApp.

Your vApps are going to map to Organization vDCs that are supplied by the Cloud Provider (infrastructure staff). In this example we have allocated a subset of the Provider vDC resources in Gold, Silver, and Bronze to the Sales Organization. The Organization Administrator can then place the vApp applications in the appropriate Organization vDC based on SLEs provided by the cloud provider.

Monday, April 16, 2012

vDC and Cluster Design Options for vCloud Director

Ruminate: To engage in contemplation.

I know.. I know... I said I was going to write about Catalogs and vApps a few posts back, but over the weekend I was thinking about design scenarios for vCloud Director. Not everyone is going to want to use SLEs or SLAs for their design. Instead you may decide to setup your environment based on application life-cycle. In the below diagram, we are going to leave production and acceptance with traditional governance managed by the infrastucture operations staff. We include acceptance in this model to ensure that it mirrors the production environment.

Like I said in my previous post, enterprise organizations still get the benefit of self-service deployment that comes with IaaS for 60% to 70% of their server infrastructure by enabling vCloud Director in development.

Futhermore, this design removes the complexity of coming up with service classes and the show-back charges associated with the service levels. Lets face it, if you don't come up with a show-back or charge-back model when using service offerings everyone is going to select gold. Do you blame them? If you went to the Ford dealership and they were offering Mustang Shelby for the price of an Escort wouldn't you buy the Mustang?
However, I am a strong advocate of service class offerings that are typically associated with IaaS. What is "as a service" with no service classes?

Below I illustrate how you can design your clusters as part of your service class offering. These would feed into your vCloud Director Provider vDCs. The gold offering would include the latest model servers, tier 1 storage, and N+2 cluster redundancy. Silver and Bronze would use older equipment, tier 2 and tier 3 storage, and N+1 cluster redundancy.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Multi-Tenant Infrastructure in vCloud Director

Yesterday on my blog we discussed using VMware vCloud Director as a solution for IaaS. The scenarios gave the basic concepts of Virtual Datacenters (vDCs). One aspect I want to expanded upon is the multi-tenant dynamic Organization vDCs play in Organizations. If you remember, the NIST definition for cloud computing states the provider's computing resources are pooled to serve multiple consumers using a multi-tenant model.

Pooled resources have been the foundation of virtualization, but in a cloud environment that enables self-service capabilities (another NIST characteristic of cloud computing) you need to design your infrastructure so that your consumers don't adversely affect the other hosted tenants.

As discussed yesterday, the cloud provider (infrastructure IT staff) partitions the Provider vDCs resource allocations with Organization vDCs. These are then presented to the Organizations.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

IaaS Design with vCloud Director

In the next few posts, I plan to describe design solutions for using VMware vCloud Director as an internal IaaS layer.

Now, I think it is important for me to give my perspective on IaaS with self-provisioning in a corporate ecosystem. I think it is a great solution for development, If you are a multi-tier environment (production, acceptance, development) I think your production and acceptance environments should stay with a traditional governance model. 

A large part of your IT infrastructure can still can still reap the benefits of IaaS with self-provisioning. Gartner estimates that 60% to 70% of server infrastructure in a global company is used for development purposes.  IaaS in the development stack will help your enterprise become more agile, flexible, and speed applications to market.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Is The Cloud Today's Dot-Com?

Here is what Wikipedia says about the dot-com bubble:

Venture capitalists saw record-setting growth as dot-com companies experienced meteoric rises in their stock prices and therefore moved faster and with less caution than usual, choosing to mitigate the risk by starting many contenders and letting the market decide which would succeed. The low interest rates in 1998–99 helped increase the start-up capital amounts. Although a number of these new entrepreneurs had realistic plans and administrative ability, many more of them lacked these characteristics but were able to sell their ideas to investors because of the novelty of the dot-com concept.

Is today's cloud phenomena a mirror image of the dot-com boom of the mid-1990s? IDC estimates that spending on IT public cloud in 2011 was $28 billion. It is already having an economic impact on the technical marketplace. Furthermore, IDC estimates that last year alone, IT cloud services helped organizations of all sizes and all vertical sectors around the world generate more than $400 billion in revenue and 1.5 million new jobs. In the next four years, the number of new jobs will surpass 8.8 million.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Solution

To be honest, there is no easy solution to the talent drain we are facing in the next 10 to 12 years. That is in part because companies have found more efficient ways to do the work with the current staffing levels. For example, 8 to 10 years ago a single infrastructure engineer would support 25 to 30 physical servers, and now with a highly virtualized environment that same server engineer can support 100 to 250 servers. Additionally, the people currently in the jobs are clinging on to them until they retire.

But ponder this scenario; you work for a fortune 250 company and over half of your IT staff (developers, infrastructure engineers, DBAs, IT leadership) will be gone in 12 to 15 years. 

So what to do? I think it is imperative that companies get directly involved in their local schools. We need to sponsor technology initiatives at both the high school and college level, and start advocating the opportunities that will be available in the near future. I have been working with Worcester Technical High School. They have a fantastic program teaching inner-city kids technology as a trade. They teach computer support, networking, development, database concepts, and of course my favorite subject virtualization. Here is their mission statement:

Monday, April 2, 2012

IT's Lost Generation

Hopefully I am not the only one that has noticed, but we will be facing a serious shortage of IT professionals in the next 10 to 12 years. I often quip about being the youngest person in IT at our Worcester campus for 22 years, I am now 40. I think that was reasonable when I was in my 20's or even pushing early 30's, but it isn't an encouraging sign that the youngest person on our IT staff is 40. There really is a lost generation of IT professionals.

Generally speaking, this growing issue is becoming very apparent to most large companies. What has caused this problem? Here are some key contributors that have happened over the past 10 years - depleted staffing levels due to anemic budgets, outsourcing, off-shoring, and stagnate growth opportunities. The recent economic downturn has exasperated the issue. With an 8.3% unemployment rate there is a deep pool of 35 to 50 year old men and women seeking jobs. They are people that are willing to take significantly less money because they have been unemployed for a substantial amount of time. Moreover, it has caused immobility for the current IT staff. People are staying in their current jobs longer, not seeking other opportunities, and they are not being promoted up the ranks because of the extensive amount of layoffs over the past 3 years. In many large companies, the same people have staffed entry-level IT positions for 10 years; there isn't a healthy infusion of young talent entering IT.

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