After taking the weekend to catch my breath and get some much needed rest, I thought it would be a good time to reflect on the highlights from last week’s Catalyst North America conference. I’d like to start with recaps of last week’s opening day cloud and virtualization sessions.
Wednesday AM – Defining the Cloud
Drue Reeves chaired the Wednesday morning cloud track and offered his thoughts on the morning here. The morning offered some very interesting perspectives from early cloud adopters International Hotels Group and Eli Lilly. Later in the morning, Drue challenged Peter Coffee, Director of Platform Research at Salesforce.com, on the fact that Salesforce.com does not offer customers an SLA. I received feedback from many clients who were glad that Drue asked the question. Peter indicated that Salesforce.com has thrived in spite of not offering an SLA, and it’s hard to argue with their success. However, I don’t know of many Burton Group clients who will consider putting production workloads on cloud-based infrastructure as a service solutions without an SLA. Amazon – I hope you’re listening. Speaking of service providers, I found the announcement from VMware’s Raghu Raghuram that VMware now has over 700 service providers on board to be impressive. None of VMware’s competitors are anywhere near that number. Sure – it’s very early in the public cloud era (too early for most of our clients to put production resources on it due to security/compliance concerns), but it’s clear that VMware is being very aggressive. I’m curious to see how many VMware service provider partners are locked into exclusive agreements with VMware, as that may impact Microsoft and Citrix’s ability to rival VMware when it comes to provider choice.
Wednesday PM – Server Virtualization: The Foundation for Cloud Infrastructure
The afternoon track focused on server virtualization topics as they relate to public and private cloud infrastructures. During my opening keynote, I highlighted the following points:
- The time to rework business processes to support a service-oriented model for IT service delivery (i.e., internal cloud) is right now. IT must own the physical infrastructure assets and offer them as a service. In 5-10 years, public cloud providers will compete against internal IT for the rights to host business applications. IT organizations that do not build out a service delivery model may find themselves like many US factory workers, and be faced with the realities of unemployment.
- Improvements in x86 hardware (e.g., hardware-assisted memory virtualization) are allowing most top tier x86 applications to successfully run in VMs. Application owners should now have to justify why an app cannot run in a VM, instead of the other way around.
- Tools that can fully visualize the data path are important for application troubleshooting as well as security/compliance auditing and enforcement. End-to-end (i.e. network and storage) views remain a challenge today, and additive virtualization layers (e.g., storage, network, and I/O) can further complicate visualization efforts.
- Development practices need to evolve so that applications can leverage dynamically allocated resources within the virtual infrastructure. Sure, unaltered apps run in the virtual infrastructure, but they could run more efficiently (more on that shortly).
- Burton Group is working with several vendors and end user organizations to build reference architecture models for internal cloud. You can see a preview of the initial work here.
Mark Templeton (CEO, Citrix)
Mark Templeton (Citrix CEO) followed my presentation by sharing his vision of cloud-based infrastructure. Templeton spent considerable time outlining how IT organizations must move to a service-oriented model. IT creates and advertises services. Users and business units purchase them (like ordering a channel package or pay-per-view movie). Templeton made a great point when he stated that to improve IT efficiency and reliability, you need to eliminate parts. According to Templeton, IT service delivery should have the following characteristics:
- Any-to-any, secure when needed
- Device, network & content independence
- Self-service desktop & app provisioning
- Elastic service capacity & infrastructure
- Consumption-based, variable costs
During the Q&A, an attendee asked Templeton about XenClient (Citrix’s bare metal client hypervisor) on a Mac. Templeton’s response - “Ask me again by the end of the year.” Templeton hinting that Apple is ready to support a Mac client hypervisor with the ability to run Mac and Windows OSs side-by-side is very big news. If Citrix gets the client hypervisor on Mac (and VMware doesn’t), it could tip the scales for desktop virtualization dominance in Citrix’s direction. Citrix hinted at much of its Mac strategy at their Synergy conference, and I’m looking forward to hearing what VMware has to say at VMworld.
Matt Lavallee (Director of Technology, MLS Property Information Network)
Matt Lavallee followed Templeton and provided a great amount of detail on his multi-site Hyper-V implementation. Lavallee is using iSCSI over 10GbE using software initiators using 802.3ad NIC teaming, and orchestrating management activities using System Center Operations Manager.
That’s it for Part I. In the second part of my server virtualization recap, I discuss “The Thrilla in California,” Mark Russinovich’s thoughts on new development trends, and hypervisor competitive differences.