Podcast: Rhys talks Cloud

Today I am releasing part two of a podcast I recorded with Rhys Oxenham last week. In this second installment of a podcast thats proved very popular Rhys will be talking about CloudForms, some of the realworld engineering stuff we’ve been working on with partners etc.

Rhys talks about how CloudForms solves some of the end to end problems of Cloud provisioning and platform management. For you guys looking at the newly released Red Hat OpenStack Preview this could be really important for you to listen to.

I am recording two new podcasts today with Jon Masters and Duncan Doyle, Jon I’ve known for nearly twelve years and is a leading light in the ARM porting world and a longtime Red Hat stalwart. He recently gave one of the best attended and best appreciated Summit talks in Boston. Duncan and I share a common love of everything JBoss so both should be a lot of fun and I’ll bring them to you asap.

  Download part two here in MP3 format or OGG format

CloudForms – Thought Leadership in Cloud

Last week I took part in a Cloud briefing in London that really got me thinking that amongst the venerable articulate people in the room, that very few were concentrating on the actual business of Cloud ownership and adoption.

There is still a fervour, even a mark of honour, at being able to build your own Cloud, be it your private cloud constructed of a blend of your existing architecture and new plateaus of blade servers (I’m claiming that…) and virtualised components. The cold hard realisation that 2012/13 is about PaaS and starting to manipulate and deliver against deployed architecture, and if you were to do a straw poll in the room I’d put a bet that less than a third had thought about what that PaaS was going to look like. Thats a dangerous game when you’re concentrating solely on IaaS and delivering against a fixed IT budget that has seen little to no growth for the last few years. To be clear everyone in the room was at a very different stage of Cloud maturity and this is no surprise, we’re in an emerging market. The one thing everyone had in common was a goal to learn more from the experience of others – and how to do it for very little money. IT budgets are scarce and if anyone wants to tell you otherwise then I hope they’re doing it in hushed tones.

The buzz in the room is fervently OpenStack, it’s everywhere and I’m not remotely knocking it, OpenStack since day one has impressed the socks off me, not for the technology or the construct itself but mainly as it’s done one important thing. It’s continued the message of Open Source and community groundswell to Cloud. We’ve been passionate quietly but backed up with investment in funds and people in the growth and adding depth in capability and code maturity and announced in April our continued support and our intents around OpenStack itself. If you talk to Brian Stevens our CTO he’ll tell you with passion about his views around OpenStack and the fact that the momentum of Linux in the Cloud and the fact OpenStack is built around Red Hat technologies can’t be ignored.

The analysts are as always playing the angles. GigaOM yesterday had an article out looking at the prospects of OpenStack as it hits two and going some way to painting a picture that it’s all about choice. Yet it was less than two months ago that Larry Dignan of ZDNet was pegging OpenStack’s growth or emergence against the financial performance of Rackspace (which given the project is not actually aligned to it’s original founding fathers) was somewhat confusing. Rackspace are a great organisation who just like Dell or IBM, and many organisations outside of IT but with a reliance on open source components and technologies have given back and made public a release of code that the rest of the world can then contribute to, and benefit from.

So let’s take CloudForms – our latest release from the Cloud Business Unit at Red Hat. CloudForms as we’ve described before in detail is a number of specific Open Source projects that are polished and supported by Red Hat and grouped together under an umbrella project – CloudForms. At the very heart of this being Deltacloud which we released to the Apache Incubator almost three years ago for use globally as an interoperability abstraction layer.

With CloudForms you then can add application control across multiple Cloud infrastructures. Think of this in enterprise terms as being able to have mature application lifecycle across heterogeneous and disparate cloud infrastructures. So if you’re needing to deploy a patch within a change control window to an application as you would locally in a datacentre but that application also runs in your public or open hybrid Cloud environments remotely to treat it exactly the same.

So with OpenStack CloudForms becomes absolutely mission critical. Imagine you have your list of exposed cloud fabric encompassing your AWS environment maybe a smattering of VMWare instances, and an OpenStack build. Imagine having the ability to just treat OpenStack as another target cloud to be able to manage and deploy against. CloudForms then gives you the concerted ability to stand up and manage OpenStack locally in your datacentre, remotely at a service provider or public datacentre and to manage it very much as part of your own infrastructure. To be able to demonstrate governance to be able to do this now, and to own your lifecycle to Cloud not just from IaaS but thinking about your cost base and your internal policies and application adolescence.

As I started to explain OpenShift and CloudForms last week to the delegates in the room the delegates there didn’t need a lot of explaining, that only happens when you have good code married with thought leadership. When people you’ve known five minutes start finishing your sentences and get animated you know you’re onto something special.

You’re going to hear a lot about CloudForms, and you should be aware what it does – and what it potentially means to you, regardless of your cloud architecture.

Now if you’ve got this far I’d like you to take just over five and a half minutes of your day to watch a video we’ve released just before Summit on CloudForms which should if the magic works be embedded at the base of this post (if it doesn’t please visit the link here)

If you can stand up with conviction and talk openly about getting to Cloud and to get past the hype to enable your users, developers and customers to get there safely and in a way that fits their enterprise ambitions then thats got to be a good thing. Whilst Cloud allows us to be dynamic and flexible in our use of resources and technologies it needs a belts and braces approach to management and configuration / change / governance at the earliest opportunity to underwrite ambition. If you’re serious about Cloud and you aren’t already looking at CloudForms then maybe you should be.

I’m attending the first OpenStack meetup in London on 25th July. If you’d like to meet up fill out the form and register, and I’ll see you there.

Backroom Heroes – Are You One ?

One of the great things about technologies and platforms built around Linux technology is the underlying doctrine that very often, and this is meant without stigma or criticism, they start out as something else that you started designing. Often more feature rich and capable by virtue of the fact that we have the benefit of choice from the myriad of projects that are available to us under Open Source licences and the community mindset of our origins.

This is hugely important as companies, institutions and large scale government usage of Linux has snowballed over the last eight or nine years, and even more so as budgets have become stretched. The ambition and technical requirements of users and organisations refuse to match available funding. E.g our customers, our users and our directors often expect service delivery to match the needs of the business which snowball. Having that Open methodology to service provisioning and product development means that now more than ever the influence of Open Source and Free Software doesn’t just make “inroads” but becomes the “incumbent” technologies that the majority of large organizations now rely on to go to work and deliver service capability.

When I stand at a white board in front of customers or a room full of people who eagerly expect some magic doctrine to appear Hogwarts style from my marker pen I often reflect on the fact that the diagram I’m about to draw, or maybe the steps I’m about to outline come straight from the heart of Open Source. The white board sketch taking place takes it’s shape and meaning from the contributions and commits from the backroom heroes that have built the building blocks of Linux and by reflection the framework of the internet and have given us things that we forget are there from a development perspective and the modular capabilities that we take for granted. Very often technologies, platforms, mash ups and protocols that I’ve watched grow first hand having contributed to them in the community or worked at organisations shaping them before the rest of the world got to download and build their platforms on them. How many of us take a REST API or the ability to use PHP or Python for granted as well as our ability to just roll something without having to go upstream to get a purchase order to buy a Visual Basic or a Lotus Notes licence from a corporate beancounter ? The world has changed, underwritten by the efforts of the community and the maturity model brought to technology change by Red Hat.

I don’t think that we’re under any illusions as technologists that the demands are increasing and it would often be great to have the crystal ball to predict how we’re going to be consuming technology and meeting the demands of users and customers.

It’s even more evident in larger multinational companies or traditional legacy institutions who are probably the biggest growth curve adopters of Open Source, championed and given credence by the often underestimated and unsung bands of heroes working in the backoffice environments. These are the men and women developing the frameworks, the applications and the development environments harnessing the power of Open Source. We see it every single working day given the fact that Red Hat is the backbone of a large percentage of these operational environments and growing.

Linux based platforms, the languages and the technologies that we have as our toolbox to build the feature rich applications, and the structures that our employers or our customers are going to be consuming rely on the capabilities of the community and the likes of companies such as Red Hat especially. This is even more evident when we look at Cloud.

There is a definite change underway right now. For those of us close enough to the coal seam it’s quite clear. IT budgets for adoption and trying to make legacy applications migrate to Cloud are squeezed – or a pot of cash that doesn’t grow dynamically to the actual needs of your incumbent project or the expectations as they become clear. The funding required to create the necessary frameworks and architectures in our datacentres to Cloud are still pinched as CIOs and management work hard to get into a position where by migrating to private or a hybrid cloud model they don’t dilute the governance of existing application schema. To ensure by embracing Cloud that you don’t introduce new risks or unworkable processes that bring new hidden costs of ownership or worse impact on future capabilities. We’ve got your back. Thats not meant flippantly or as a throw away comment it’s a very real statement of intent.

Cloud can often can be seen to be offputting for some organisations where you’re trying to bring processes and teams of developers together to build core architectures and featuresets, but to do so with a level of maturity rather than Cloud just being cobbled together mixtures of applications, a credit card obtained abstraction layer with a service provider, an SLA that’s often confusing and just another part of a roadmap to Cloud that seems to grow at a frenetic pace. The smart money is on the backroom hero being the one that keeps the ship steady and being the staffer who is critical to this getting designed and deployed stably and we’re right behind you able to give you the tools and confidence to make those steps.

Where a decade ago we were at the beck and call (and you could say the mercy of, without being seen as flippant) of proprietary software companies and service organisations globally to determine our own roadmaps for software usage now the model has evolved. The Open Source community have given us the ability to “grab freely” the technology building bricks to structure our daily working environments and to be able to communicate and interact with the community which has as many non-coding consumers of technology as it does those who contribute commits or other important tasks such as documentation or bug testing. You could say it’s given many of us a voice, you’d be short of reality slightly but you’d be on the right track. It’s given many of us an inside track to grow our careers and to further our personal knowledge and core capabilities and more than that it’s allowed us to build, deploy and support enterprise on premise capabilities whilst at the same time keeping our eye on the future needs of our customers and users.

Cloud is no different. The requirements of having SOA architectures migrated to elastic computing / virtualised hosting architectures and the need to start thinking maybe as much a year or two ahead from the governance perspective are very real. Underlying the compute mentality of what we’re being expected to deliver is both exciting and also challenging. We are working extremely hard in the community, you may have seen our recent announcement on the very real contributions we’ve made at the core of the OpenStack project. You may even have missed the ubercool stuff we’ve made available under the Deltacloud API which we put into the Apache Incubator a couple of years ago thats allowed interaction across multiple cloud types helping avoid the dangers of lock in emerge as risk to Cloud growth.

The Aelous project  that we’ve invested so much time and love in (not aware of Aelous ? – then follow the link) and the upcoming release of CloudForms (coming very soon as a supported architecture piece) and our release of OpenShift Origin this week are demonstrating the very real fact that if you’re serious about Cloud – if you’re serious about being Open about adoption of Cloud technology then you have to take Red Hat very seriously. It’s moved the discussion a long way away from the old discussion of free vs fee Linux OS’s, away from the RHEL v CentOS v other free derivatives. It’s not about the OS tier, it’s about a blended approach to Cloud and to have the entire stack open and transparent and to get to Cloud with confidence. It’s easier to do that when you have the ability to work with us to get there to give support to every step of your Cloud stack from application development and the concept of mobility of application across hypervisor types or service providers. This continues through to development of true hybrid architectures and the ongoing administration and evolution of processes and provisioning as your users and customers look for more and more features and services.

It’s no longer enough to keep the discussion at the hypervisor level. We march on code, we march on goodwill and the back office teams of coders, administrators and the heart and soul of many organisations need the supported mature tools to go to work. Our commitment to you as we take these steps forward is that to do this openly and with confidence Red Hat is here to support you.

Linux often used to creep in quietly through the backdoor. We’ve moved on, we’re here to support you and to help you achieve your goals and to do it with confidence, never more so have you been more important to the ambitions of your parent organizations.

We are providing the ladders to climb up, to reinforce the ambitions and to make this achievable. Moving beyond proof of concept to deployed Cloud can be tricky and time consuming. Follow the links in these articles or reach out to me or your local team at Red Hat and we’ll try and show you the best way forward.