Tag Archives: AWS

VMware on AWS: vCloud Director and What Needs to be Done to Empower the vCAN

Last week VMware and Amazon Web Services officially announced their new joint venture whereby VMware technology will be available to run as a service on AWS in the form of bare-bones hardware with vCenter, ESXi, NSX and VSAN as the core VMware technology components. This isn’t some magic whereby ESXi is nested or emulated upon the existing AWS platform, but a fully fledged dedicated virtual datacenter offering that clients can buy through VMware and have VMware manage the stack right up to the core vCenter components.

Earlier in the week I wrote down some thoughts around the possible impact to the vCloud Air Network this new offering could have. While at first glance it would appear that I was largely negative towards the announcement, after having a think about the possible implications I started to think about how this could be advantageous for the vCloud Air Network. What it comes down to is how much VMware was to open up the API’s for all components hosted on AWS and how the vCloud Director SP product team develops around those API’s.

From there it will be on vCloud Air Network partners that have the capabilities to tap into the VMC’s. I believe there is an opportunity here for vCAN Service Providers to go beyond offering just IaaS and combine their offerings with the VMware AWS offering as well as help extend out to offer AWS PaaS without the worry that traditional VM workloads will be migrated to AWS.

For this to happen though VMware have to do something they haven’t done in the past…that is, commit to making sure vCAN providers can cash in on the opportunity and be empowered by the opportunity to grow VMware based services… as I mentioned in my original post:

In truth VMware have been very slow…almost reluctant to pass over features that would allow this cross cloud compatibility and migration be even more of a weapon for the vCAN by holding back on features that allowed on-premises vCenter and Workstation/Fusion connect directly to vCloud Air endpoints in products such as Hybrid Cloud Manager. I strongly believed that those products should have been extended from day zero to have the ability to connect to any vCloud Director endpoint…it wasn’t a stretch for that to occure as it is effectively the same endpoint but for some reason it was strategically labeled as a “coming soon” feature.

Extending vCloud Director SP:

I have taken liberty to extend the VMWonAWS graphic to include what I believe should be the final puzzle in what would make the partnership sit well with existing vCloud Air Network providers…that is, allow vCloud Director SP to bridge the gap between the on-premises compute, networking and storage and the AWS based VMware platform infrastructure.

vCloud Director is a cloud management platform that abstracts physical resources from vCenter and interacts with NSX to build out networking resources via the NSX Manager API’s…with that it’s not hard in my eyes to allow any exposed vCenter or NSX Manager to be consumed by vCloud Director.

With that allowed, any AWS vCenter dedicated instance can become a Virtual Datacenter object in vCloud Director and consumed by an organisation. For vCloud Air Network partners who have the ability to programatically interact with the vCloud Director APIs, this all of a sudden could open up another 70+ AWS locations on which to allow their customers to deploy Virtual Datacenters.

Take that one step further and allow vCD to overlay on-premises compute and networking resources and then allow connectivity between all locations via NSX hybridity and you have a seriously rock solid solution that extends a customer on-premises to a more conveniently placed (remember AWS isn’t everywhere) vCloud Air Network platform that can in turn consume/burst into a VMware Dedicated instance on AWS and you now have something that rivals the much hyped Hybrid Cloud Strategy of Microsoft and the Azure Stack.

What Needs to Happen:

It’s pretty simple…VMware need to commit to continued/accelerated development of vCloud Director SP (which has already begun in earnest) and give vCloud Air Network providers the ability to consume both ways…on-premises and on VMware’s AWS platform. VMware need to grant this capability to vCloud Air Network providers from the outset and not play the stalling game that was apparent when it came to feature parity with vCloud Air.

What I have envisioned isn’t far off becoming a reality…vCloud Director is mature and extensible enough to do what I have described above, and I believe that in my recent dealings with the vCloud Director product and marketing teams at VMworld US earlier this year that there is real belief in the team that the cloud management platform will continue to improve and evolve…if VMware allow it to.

Further improving on vCloud Directors maturity and extensibility, if the much maligned UI is improved as promised…with the upcoming addition of full NSX integration completing the network stack, the next step in greater adoption beyond the 300 odd vCAN SPs currently use vCloud Director needs a hook…and that hook should be VMWonAWS.

Time will tell…but there is huge potential here. VMware need to deliver to their partners in order to have that VMWonAWS potential realised.

 

VMware on AWS: Thoughts on the Impact to the vCloud Air Network

Last week VMware and Amazon Web Services officially announced their new joint venture whereby VMware technology will be available to run as a service on AWS in the form of bare-bones hardware with vCenter, ESXi, NSX and VSAN as the core VMware technology components. This isn’t some magic whereby ESXi is nested or emulated upon the existing AWS platform, but a fully fledged dedicated virtual datacenter offering that clients can buy through VMware and have VMware manage the stack right up to the core vCenter components.

Note: These initial opinions are just that. There has been a fair bit of Twitter reaction over the announcement, with the majority being somewhat negative towards the VMware strategy. There are a lot of smart guys working on this within VMware and that means it’s got technical focus, not just Exec/Board strategy. There is also a lot of time between this initial announcement and it’s release first release in 2017 however initial perception and reaction to a massive shift in direction should and will generate debate…this is my take from a vCAN point of view.

The key service benefits as taken from the AWS/VMware landing page can be seen below:

Let me start by saying that this is a huge huge deal and can not be underestimated in terms of it’s significance. If I take my vCAN hat off, I can see how and why this was necessary for both parties to help each other fight off the growing challenge from Microsoft’s Azure offering and the upcoming Azure Stack. For AWS, it lets them tap into the enterprise market where they say they have been doing well…though in reality, it’s known that they aren’t doing as well as they had hoped. While for VMware, it helps them look serious about offering a public cloud that is truly hyper-scale and also looks at protecting existing VMware workloads from being moved over to Azure…and to a lesser extent AWS directly.

There is a common enemy here, and to be fair to Microsoft it’s obvious that their own shift in focus and direction has been working and the industry is taking note.

Erasing vCloud Air and The vCAN Impact:

For VMware especially, it can and should erase the absolute disaster that was vCloud Air… Looking back at how the vCloud Air project transpired the best thing to come out of it was the refocus in 2015 of VMware to prop back up the vCloud Air Network, which before that had been looking shaky with the vCANs strongest weapon, vCloud Director, being pushed to the side and it’s future uncertain. In the last twelve months there has an been apparent recommitment to vCloud Director and the vCAN and things had been looking good…however that could be under threat with this announcement…and for me, perception is everything!

Public Show of Focus and Direction:

Have a listen to the CNBC segment embedded above where Pat Gelsinger and AWS CEO Andy Jassy discuss the partnership. Though I wouldn’t expect them to mention the 4000+ strong vCloud Air Network (or the recent partnership with IBM for that matter) the fact that they are openly discussing about the unique industry first benefits the VMWonAWS partnership brings to the market, in the same breath they ignore or put aside the fact that the single biggest advantage that the vCloud Air Network had was VMware workload mobility.

Complete VMware Compatibility:

VMware Cloud on AWS will provide VMware customers with full VM compatibility and seamless workload portability between their on-premises infrastructure and the AWS Cloud without the need for any workload modifications or retooling.

Workload Migration:

VMware Cloud on AWS works seamlessly with vSphere vMotion, allowing you to move running virtual machines from on-premises infrastructure to the AWS Cloud without any downtime. The virtual machines retain network identity and connections, ensuring a seamless migration experience.

The above features are pretty much the biggest weapons that vCloud Air Network partners had in the fight against existing or potential client moving or choosing AWS over their own VMware based platform…and from direct experience, I know that this advantage is massive and does work. With this advantage taken away, vCAN Service Providers may start to loose workloads to AWS at a faster clip than what was done previously.

In truth VMware have been very slow…almost reluctant to pass over features that would allow this cross cloud compatibility and migration be even more of a weapon for the vCAN by holding back on features that allowed on-premises vCenter and Workstation/Fusion connect directly to vCloud Air endpoints in products such as Hybrid Cloud Manager. I strongly believed that those products should have been extended from day zero to have the ability to connect to any vCloud Director endpoint…it wasn’t a stretch for that to occure as it is effectively the same endpoint but for some reason it was strategically labeled as a “coming soon” feature.

VMware Access to Multiple AWS Regions:

VMware Virtual Machines running on AWS can leverage over 70 AWS services covering compute, storage, database, security, analytics, mobile, and IoT. With VMware Cloud on AWS, customers will be able to leverage their existing investment in VMware licenses through customer loyalty programs.

I had mentioned on Twitter that the image below was both awesome and scary mainly because all I think about when I look at it is the overlay of the vCloud Air Network and how VMware actively promote 4000+ vCAN partners contributing to existing VMware customers in being able to leverage their existing investments on vCloud Air Network platforms.

Look familiar?

 

In truth of those 4000+ vCloud Air Network providers there are maybe 300 that are using vCloud Director in some shape or form and of those an even smaller amount that can programatically take advantage of automated provisioning and self service. There in lies one of the biggest issues for the vCAN…while some IaaS providers excel, the majority offer services that can’t stack up next to the hyper-scalers. Because of that, I don’t begrudge VMware to forgetting about the capabilities of the vCAN, but as mentioned above, I believe more could, and still can be been done to help the network complete in the market.

Conclusion:

Right, so that was all the negative stuff as it relates the vCloud Air Network, but I have been thinking about how this can be a positive for both the vCAN and more importantly for me…vCloud Director. I’ll put together another post on where and how I believe VMware can take advantage of this partnership to truly compete against the looming threat of the Azure Stack…with vCAN IaaS providers offering vCloud Director SP front and center of that solution.

References:

http://www.vmware.com/company/news/releases/vmw-newsfeed.VMware-and-AWS-Announce-New-Hybrid-Cloud-Service,-%E2%80%9CVMware-Cloud-on-AWS%E2%80%9D.3188645-manual.html

https://aws.amazon.com/vmware/

VMware Cloud™ on AWS – A Closer Look

https://twitter.com/search?f=tweets&vertical=default&q=VMWonAWS

VMworld 2016: Cross Cloud Platform – Raw Thoughts

I’m still trying to process the VMworld 2016 Day 1 Keynote in my mind…trying to make sense of the mixed messages that myself and others took away from the 90 minute opening. Before I continue, I’ll point out that this is going to be raw post with opinions that are purely driven buy what I saw and heard during the keynote…I haven’t had much time to validate my thoughts although from my brief discussions with others here at the conference (and on Twitter) it’s clear that the Cross Cloud migration tech preview is an attempt at VMware catering to the masses. I’ll explain below why that’s both a good and bad thing and why the vCloud Air Network should be rightly miffed about what we saw demoed on stage.

Yesterday’s opening was all about Pat trying to make sure that everyone who was listening understood that VMware is still cool and relevant. The message around be_tomorrow was lost for me by the overall message that VMware has grown up and matured, but are still capable of producing teen like excitement through cool and hip technologies. If there was ever a direct reaction to the disruptive competitors VMware has had to deal with (looking at you Nutanix) then this was corporates attempt to mitigate that threat. Not sure that it worked, but did it really need to be done when you are effectively preaching to the converted?

Pat Gelsinger used his keynote to introduce the VMware® Cross-Cloud Architecture™. This is a game-changing new architecture that, as he says, “will enable customers to run, manage, connect, and secure applications across clouds and devices in a common operating environment.

During the first part of the keynote things where looking good for the vCAN with vCloud Air not getting much of a mention over the strong growth in the vCAN as shown on stage in the image above. Pat then went through and talked about trends in public and private clouds which lead into the messaging that Hybrid Cloud is the way of the future…no one cloud will rule them all. This isn’t new messaging and I agree 100% that there is a place in the world for all types of clouds, from the HyperScalers through to the smaller but more agile IaaS providers and managed private clouds.

AWSworld? – vCloud Air Network Concerns:

The second part of the keynote was where things got a little confusing for me. We saw two demo’s of Cross Cloud Architecture in tech preview. Let me start by saying that the UI looked consistent and modern and even managed to integrate vRealize Network Insight (Arkin) seamlessly and the NSX network extension is a brilliant step forward in being able to extend cloud networks between on-premises to public to vCAN Service Provider.

Where things got a little awkward for me was when the demo of the Cross Cloud Management console went through managing services and instances on AWS and Azure…without any mention or example or listing of any vCAN service provider. Not withstanding the focus on the growing partnership with IBM Softlayer in the new Cloud Foundation ecosystem that naturally competes directly against vCAN service providers the specific focus of AWS made a lot of providers uneasy.

Now, I understand that the vCAN can’t do everything and the there is an existing and future sense of inevitability around clients using more hyper-scale cloud services…but here is why I found this to be a bit of a slap in the face to the 4000+ strong vCAN. If you are going to demo the use of cross cloud why not focus on what the hyper-scalers do best that is PaaS? Don’t demo creating and moving traditional workload instances on AWS and then move it to Azure.

Again, this is a raw post and I do need to digest this a little more and I will follow up with a more in depth post and make no mistake that I do see value in the tool…but it does nothing to build and grow the vCAN…and that is the sore point at this point in time.

AWS…Complex Simplicity?

I came across a tweet over the weekend which showed a screen grab of the AWS product catalog (shown below) and a comment pointing out the fact that the sheer number of AWS services on offer by Amazon was part of the reason why they are doing so well.

The implication was that AWSs dominance was in part due to the fact they have what appears to be the complete product service catalog of Cloud and it provides a “simple”one stop shop

I’ve held a view for a while now that in order to go head to head against AWS Cloud Service Providers don’t need to go out of produce 1000+ cloud services…rather they should focus on keeping things figuratively simple by focusing on core strengths and doing what they do really well…really well.

Maybe I lack the impartiality to comment on this, but when I look at the AWS services page I get overwhelmed…and while from a technical point of view I can work through the configuration steps and multiple addon services…For small businesses looking to take their first steps into a hybrid cloud world AWS is not the panacea proclaimed by some. Even for small to large enterprises the simple fact AWS carries so much apparent choice should throw up some flags and be enough to make decision makers look at smaller more streamlined offerings that offer targeted solutions based on actual requirements.

AWS are massive…AWS are a juggernaut backed by seemingly endless research and development funding and enough scale to offer what appear to be cheaper services…and though they don’t market as much as Microsofts Azure they are still front of mind for most when cloud is talked about. Smaller providers such as IaaS in the vCloud Air Network can complete if the focus on delivery of a smaller subset of products and services is done with quality and reliability in mind…in my eyes, that’s enough to offer enough differentiation to compete.

So as a final thought…lets not be caught up with what customers think they might need…but what they actually require!

The Reality of Cloud – Outages are Like *holes…

It’s been a bad couple of weeks for cloud services both around the world and locally…Over the last three days we have seen AWS have issues which may have been indirectly related to the Leap Second on Tuesday night and this morning, Azure’s Sydney Zone had serious network connectivity issues which disrupted services for approximately three to four hours.

Closer to home, Zettagrid had a partial outage of our Sydney Zone last Wednesday morning which impacted a small subset of client VMs and services and this was on the back of a major (unnamed) provider in Europe being down for a number of days as pointed out in a blog post by Massimo Re Ferre’ linked below.

http://it20.info/2015/06/iaas-cloud-outages-get-over-it/ 

Massimo struck a cord with me and as the title of Massimo’s blog post suggests it’s time for consumers of public cloud services to get over outages and understand that when it comes to Cloud and IaaS…Outages will happen.

When you hear someone saying “I moved to the cloud because I didn’t want to experience downtime” it is fairly clear to me that you either have been heavily misinformed or you misunderstood what the benefits of a (IaaS) public cloud are

Regardless if you are juggernauts like Amazon, Microsoft or Google…or one of the smaller Service Providers…the reality of cloud services is that outages are a fact of life. Even SaaS based application are susceptible to outages and it must be understood that there is no magic that goes into the architecture of cloud platforms and while every effort goes into ensuring availability and resiliency Massimo sums it up well below.

Put it in (yet) another way: a properly designed public cloud is not intrinsically more reliable than a properly designed Enterprise data center (assuming like for like IT budgets).

That is because sh*t happens…

The reality of what can be done to prevent service disruption is for consumers of cloud services to look beyond the infrastructure and think more around the application. This message isn’t new and the methods undertaken by larger companies when deploying business critical service and applications is starting to change…however not every company can be a NetFlix or a Facebook so in breaking it down to a level that’s achievable for most…the question is.

How can everyday consumers of cloud services architect applications to work around the inevitable system outage?

  1. Think about a multi cloud or hybrid cloud strategy
  2. Look for Cloud Service Providers that have multiple Availability Zones
  3. Make sure that the Availability Zones are independent of one an other
  4. Design and deploy business critical applications across multiple Zones
  5. Watch out for Single Points of Failures within Availability Zones
  6. Employ solid backup and recovery strategies

They key to the points above is to not put all your eggs into one basket and then cry foul when that basket breaks…do not set an expectation whereby you become complacent in the fact that all Cloud Service Providers guarantee a certain level of system up time through SLA’s and then act surprised when an outage occurs. Most providers who are worth their salt do offer separate availability zones…but it’s very much up to the people designing and building services upon Services Provider Clouds to ensure that they are built to take advantage of this fact…you can’t come in stamping your feet and crying foul when the resources that are placed at your disposal to ensure application and service continuity are not taken advantage of.

Do not plan for 100% uptime…it does not exist! Anyone who tries to tell you otherwise is lying! You only have to search online to see that Outages are indeed like Assholes…everyone has them!

References:

http://au.pcmag.com/internet-products/35269/news/aws-outage-takes-down-netflix-pinterest

http://it20.info/2015/06/iaas-cloud-outages-get-over-it/

https://downdetector.com/status/aws-amazon-web-services/news/71670-problems-at-amazon-web-services