Posted on 25 April 2011
VMware announced that it is launching Cloud Foundry, a move that will put the company smack dab in the center of the Platform as a Service (PaaS) market. The project is in Beta for now.
As I wrote in Understanding the Different Levels of Cloud Computing, PaaS “…provides a platform on which you can build applications usually linked to a particular vendor.” VMware is traditionally known as a company that provides the software to build out virtual machines, a key component in building and deploying private clouds, so this takes them in a new direction.
Geva Perry, writing on his Thinking Out Cloud blog, says what’s interesting about this offering is that it offers a series of VMware branded services such as data and messaging services, but also uses an open architecture that enables enterprises to link other non-VMware services. This is in contrast to Salesforce.com, whose PaaS offering is really designed to lock you into the Salesforce platform (which is fine if that’s where you’re working, not everyone is about customer relationship management).
This is an intriguing offering for any IT pro because it provides a central place where you can build your cloud infrastructure with a mix of public and private services. Now what’s really interesting here is the open nature of this platform. If it’s truly open, and depending on how flexible the API is, perhaps you could also connect the whole kit and kaboodle to your monitoring tool. Imagine how that would be?
I’m not certain this is possible having just seen the picture of the architecture in the blog post, but if it were, it opens up some interesting possibilities as it would allow you to have the means to monitor your entire system from a single view, a pretty attractive idea.
If it’s not that easy to connect to an external monitoring system, it should be because this type of connectivity has to become a priority. IT pros need to have the tools to monitor the whole system wherever it resides and a tool like this that mixes services should provide that.
Photo by jenny-bee on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons License.
Posted on 16 March 2011
As you look at cloud computing, it’s useful to understand that there are three types of services offered:
- Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): This gives you access to storage and servers in the cloud. Examples of vendors in this space include Amazon, IBM, Rackspace and Verizon. The advantage of this approach is that you can expand and contract as needed. If you anticipate having a rush coming such as a big sale, you can expand your servers to meet the increased demand, then go back to your normal numbers when the sale period is over. It prevents your system from going down from because you don’t have the server capacity to handle the traffic. This elasticity (scaling capacity up and back as needed) and paying for what you use are two of the hallmarks of using IaaS.
- Platform as a Service (PaaS): This service provides a platform on which you can build applications usually linked to a particular vendor. A good example of this is Salesforce.com’s Force.com service, a cloud-based development environment for building applications on top of the Salesforce.com service. Force.com gives you access to a number of developer services you can tap into to help you build your applications.
- Software as a Service (SaaS): Perhaps the most recognized of the three cloud computing types, it provides access to a software service in the cloud. There are countless examples of this available today such as Google Docs or Gmail, which gives you access to word processing and email in the cloud. No documents or mail are stored locally and you can access your content from anywhere. All backups and updates are handled on the back end by the provider, greatly simplifying software maintenance.
Once you have a basic understanding of how cloud services break down, it’s useful to think about how these different levels of cloud services could affect your IT environment, how comfortable you might be farming out some of these services to the cloud and what impact it would have on your ability to understand and monitor these different services as part of your overall IT job function.
Photo by Lucien Savluc on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons License.