Cloud – Tentative First Steps

I had a conversation earlier today with a customer in Northern Europe tasked by his employer in the financial sector to look at how they as a company can play catch up with their competitors who are forever talking about Cloud. Tasked with a “Keep up with the Jones” approach reminds me sometimes of the way that when the internet first started evolving in the mid to late 1990s and every company would start small and build their own websites with whatever tools came to hand with the onus on “getting something out there” rather than building a presence. The word portal really was reserved for Sci-Fi comics and afficionados. It was seen, I seem to remember as nothing more than cataloguing your products or services to a internet savvy public armed with tenacious appetites for reading text rich pages heavily clip art driven and all sharing a common look and feel even if that core was at the centre of nothing more than being able to say “we have a webpage”.

As we moved through the 90s and our staffers and our customers became more savvy we became able to add more functionality and more creative uses of the internet as we migrated away from the “product showroom / catalogue” type model to the now interactive methodology of taking orders / interacting with our customers, and as this ramped up the use of mandatory basic controls such as passing transactions to third parties such as Worldpay, CCBill, Cashcade etc to handle card payment processing. That was as secure as it got, maybe you’d have SSL login’s for customer accounts but that was the basic guideline you adhered to – regardless of your size of organisation. It was the Wild West, we all remember those days where virtual hosting became the predominate structure of how 90% of the marketplace, the SME type businesses embraced hosted Internet. Multiple retailers often sharing virtual servers with their competitors by virtue of having bought a hosting package. Nobody thought about segregation of data, or internal firewalling controls, patching was lax at best although the more switched on operators would ensure that they would be using a best of breed OS and patching as advised by CERT.

So we move to Cloud and what we see now is a lot of those same companies who were so brisk in moving to the internet (because everyone had a .com etc – the “we want one too” mentality). Those same businesses now often stand there scratching their head with a lack of understanding of Cloud niceties. Anyone understanding Cloud will talk governance, stability, conformance, privacy, how does it fit what I already own etc etc.

Moving to a whole pay-as-you-go agile platform in Cloud and building all those auto-scaling goodness that comes out of embracing Cloud and these organisations are the ones that I see now thinking about private PaaS or hybrid PaaS and how they achieve a level of ambition that scales in the same way that they understood back in the day. Enterprises building out to Cloud have to worry about legacy applications, often these companies have been acquired or have legacy applications and environments from acquired organisations all of which often form part of necessary ingredients in their stacks as they move to Cloud. Then you add in security and data privacy especially around the EU rules around data privacy and the facts that if you get it wrong it impacts on your “actual reputation”.

Over the next few months we’re going to address the needs of these Enterprise customers, and to talk about how SELinux, C Groups, JBoss, OpenShift and the ability to support multiple packaged languages such as Perl,Python, PHP etc etc and the services such as MongoDB etc etc. So as we move through exploring what OpenShift is and what an impact it can make on your organisation we’ll visit different scenarios and to look at how we deliver those platforms in a variety of Clouds be they Public, Private or Hybrid.

As we move into Cloudforms in a few months time and talk about application blueprints and self service it will become obvious that merging these into a set of very easy to own, extremely powerful controls that actually fit enterprises moving to Cloud and doing it with a lot more confidence than they can now using any industry standard product set.

We’ve always been about delivering control and frictionless process management to enterprises. As this translates into true hybrid cloud technologies and micro PaaS type environments alongside traditional PaaS then this becomes even more fun and explorative as to benefits of how we empower developers to work with Red Hat Cloud Technologies.

It’s always nice to be ahead of the game, I hope it’s becoming clear where the smart money goes, and my aim is to empower the application developers and the sysadmin’s that are part of that journey in companies across the globe. Keep watching, keep contributing back via email and the next five to six months as we move through the journey with you.

Getting people to Cloud safely, on their terms and with the levels of ambition to be delivered in a timescale that matches the needs of their businesses.