Cloud Computing Integration: A pain in the ass!

Cloud computing providers should face reality and tell their potential clients the truth! The integration within the entire cloud stack leads to the biggest complexity in the cloud. This also includes the other costs which no public cloud provider, in addition to the on-demand and pay-per-use promises, transparent has on its marketing slides. An overview.

What is the expectation of the user?

Besides the on demand use and pay per use cloud computing provider promise easy access to IT resources. That sounds fantastic on paper and normally works very well. However, the fun stops when it comes to combine existing systems or even new services in the cloud. The integration caused the greatest pain.

Discussions with users and inquiries from cloud interested companies reflect a harsh reality. Expectations, for example, are to replace existing on-premise solutions with 1:1 equivalents in the cloud. The hope is that thus the integration effort – which formerly existed on premise – can be realized much easier, since the systems of the providers “are already within a centralized infrastructure”. It is thus assumed that the familiar interface problems that bother every IT department for decades can be implemented easier. From the user perspective this is a comprehensible expectation. Finally, the vendors keep the threads within their cloud infrastructure (including SaaS offerings) in their hand and could offer a simpler integration between multiple systems within the own services.

Similar feedback is coming from the cloud system integrators. APIs and integration of multi-vendor services but also provider proprietary services in the cloud lead to the same effort as on premise.

What is the reality?

In principle, the cloud should be the Mecca for every IT manager. He can pick out the best services for his use case, test it in advance without much effort, and then integrate it. However, the full extent of the disaster is reflected by current cloud marketplaces. Cloud marketplaces are trying to catalog best-of-breed solutions by merging individual cloud solutions in different categories and thus offer companies a comprehensive range of different solutions, with which a cloud productivity suite can be assembled. Nevertheless, these marketplaces, although they are very heavily controlled and supposedly integrated, at a crucial point massive problems with the integration. There are many individual SaaS applications that do not interact with each other. This means that no common data base exists and for example the email service can not access the data in the CRM service and vice versa. This creates individual data silos and isolated applications within the marketplace.

The number of new SaaS applications is growing everyday and with this the need to integrate these different solutions with each other to exchange data. Today, the cloud market moves uncontrolled in the direction of many small isolated application, each offering an added value for themselves but, in the end, lead to many data silos. With such developments, companies have fought back in the times before the cloud – for nothing.

What to consider?

One thing (prospective) cloud users should be aware of and especially understand. The cloud is unequal to the known on-premise infrastructure. This means that even the migration of an e-mail system, one of the supposedly highly standardised applications, becomes an adventure. The reason is that many companies do not use a standard e-mail system and instead have connected proprietary add-ons or self-developed extensions, that do not exist in the cloud.

There are also other applications that belong to the IT enterprise architecture to meet very individual needs. I spoke with the strategy manager of a German DAX company with a global footprint, which is currently evaluating a cloud strategy. The company has about 10,000(!) applications globally (desktop, server, production systems, etc.). This example is extreme and does not reflect the average challenges of a company. But it shows the dimension in which one can move and which can also be broken down to much smaller application infrastructures.

Before their path into the cloud, IT decision makers should take time to think about it and use the chance to eliminate the over the years evolved special cases. A 1:1 migration without great effort and additional costs would not work and the potential savings, which the cloud provides, put into perspective. Anyone who decides to move a individually developed application to a cloud infrastructure (IaaS) and Platform (PaaS) should plan with the development of the application on the Greenfield. A 1:1 migration (maybe depending on the cloud infrastructure/ platform) will not work and is a myth.

Who needs help for the operation of its virtual infrastructure (IaaS) and development platform (PaaS), should not rely on a public cloud provider, but on a managed cloud provider or hosted private PaaS provider, who both offer additional professional services.

Cutting out the middleman doesn’t work!

Due to the self-service the public cloud has a flavor of “cutting out the middleman” since the enduser purchased directly from the vendor. For distributors who have specialized exclusively on the pure resale of hardware and software, this is true. Software-as-a-service will lead to their death if they do not change. Cloud natives (start-ups, innovative enterprises) will also use self-service. However, this does not apply to the mass in the corporate environment.

System integrators are more important than ever before. “Cutting out the middleman” in the public cloud does not work. Considering that interface problems and the lack of cloud knowledge are present. With his assumption, that Accenture already makes a $3.6 billion revenue with cloud consulting and integration, Carlo is tend to be right. The evidence and feedback from the market are clear.

In any case, system integrators and integration-as-a-service providers can look forward to a rosy future.


Enterprise Cloud: IBM to get into position

Last week IBM announced to invest more than 1.2 billion dollar for improving its global cloud offering. For this, cloud services are delivered from 40 data centers and 15 countries world wide. The German data center is based in Ehningen. Softlayer, IBM acquired in 2013, will play a key role. Therefore its resource capacities will be doubled.

Investments are a clear sign

The 1.2 billion dollar is not the first investment IBM let flew into its cloud business in the last couple of years. Since 2007 over 7 billion dollar IBM invested for the expansion of this business area. Among others 2 billion dollar for acquiring Softlayer. In addition more than 15 other acquisitions, which brought more cloud computing solutions and know-how into the company. The last big announcement was the amount of 1 billion dollar, IBM will invest into its cognitive computing system Watson, to make it available as a service for the masses.

These investments show that IBM is serious with the cloud and sees it as one pillar for the prospective company strategy. This is also seen in the expectations. IBM assumes that the worldwide cloud market growth up to 200 billion dollar in 2020. Until 2015, IBM wants to earn seven billion dollar per year worldwide with its cloud solutions.

Softlayer positioning is of crucial importance

A special attention IBM will pay to the Softlayer cloud. Therefore the capacities will be doubled in 2014. According to IBM, due to the acquisition of the cloud computing provider in 2013, about 2.400 new customers had been obtained. With Softlayer the important markets and financial centers should be strengthen. In addition, the Softlayer cloud should profit from Watson’s technologies in the future.

The Softlayer acquisition was an important step for IBM’s cloud strategy, to get a better cloud DNA. The IBM SmartCloud disappointed until today. These are not only the results of conversations with potential customers who, for the most part, comment negative on the offering and its usage.

The expansion of the Softlayer cloud will be interesting to watch. According to the official Softlayer website at the moment 191.500 servers are operated at seven locations worldwide.

  • Dallas: 104,500+ Servers
  • Seattle: 10,000+ Servers
  • Washington: 16,000+ Servers
  • Houston: 25,000+ Servers
  • San Jose: 12,000+ Servers
  • Amsterdam: 8,000+ Servers
  • Singapore: 16,000+ Servers

Compared to cloud players like Amazon Web Services (more than 450.000), Microsoft (about 1.000.000) and Google these are indeed peanuts. Even after doubling to 383,300 servers in 2014.

IBM’s worldwide cloud data centers

One part of the mentioned 1.2 billion dollar IBM will invest in 2014 to open 15 new data centers. In total, 40 data centers distributed over 15 countries will build the basis of the IBM cloud. The new cloud data centers will be located in China, Hongkong, Japan, India, London, Canada, Mexiko City, Washington D.C. and Dallas. The German data center is located in Ehningen near Stuttgart, the Swiss in Winterthur.

On the technical side, each cloud data center consists of at least for PODs (Points of Distribution). One single unit consist of 4.000 servers. Each POD works independently from another POD to provide the services and should have a guaranteed availability of 99.9 percent. Customers can decide for a single POD with 99.9 percent availability or a distribution over several PODs to increase the availability ratio.

The footprint within the enterprise

With its investments IBM wants to clearly position against the Amazon Web Services. However, one must distinguish one thing. Amazon AWS (AWS) is solely represented in the public cloud and this, according to a statement from Andy Jassy at last re:Invent, should remain. AWS believes in the public cloud and there is no interest to invest in (hosted) private cloud infrastructures. However, a company who brings the wherewithal get there quite its own private region, which is managed by AWS (similar to AWS GovCloud).

In the competition between IBM and AWS it is not primarily about the advance in the public, private, or else a kind of cloud shape. It is about the supremacy for corporate customers. AWS has grown up with startups and developers and tries to increase the attractiveness at companies for some time. This they have shown with several new services at the past re:Invent. This, however, is a market in which IBM has been present for decades and has a good and broad customer base and valuable contacts with the decision makers. This is an advantage, in spite of AWS’s current technical lead, should not be underestimated. Another advantage for IBM is the large base of partners in terms of technical support and sales. Because the pure self-service, a public cloud offers, does not fit the majority of enterprise customers. However, along with the Softlayer cloud IBM has yet to convince the companies technically and show customers a concrete benefit for the value to be successful.

What will prove to be an advantage for IBM over other cloud providers such as AWS, is the local presence with data centers in several countries. In particular, the German market will be appreciating this, when the offering fits the needs. It will be exciting to see if other U.S. cloud providers will follow and open a data center in Germany, to meet the concerns of German companies.

IBM’s investments indicate that the provider sees the cloud as a future supporting pillar and want to build a viable business in this area.


Off to private cloud. OpenStack is no infrastructure solution for the public cloud!

OpenStack is undoubtably the new rising star for open source cloud infrastructures. Many known players, including Rackspace, RedHat, HP, Deutsche Telekom and IBM rely on the software to build their offers. But one question remains exciting. Everyone is talking about to get market share from the undisputed market leader Amazon Web Services. Above all, the named public cloud providers, who have decided for OpenStack. No question, in the big cloud computing market everyone will find its place. But is OpenStack the right technology to become a leader in the public cloud, or is it in the end “only” sufficient for the private cloud (hybrid cloud)?

Rackspace is expanding its portfolio to include cloud consulting services

I already had written about the diversification problem and have called OpenStack as the golden cage in this context, because all involved providers stuck in the same dilemma and do not differentiate from each other. Because if you just confront the top two OpenStack provider Rackspace and HP, it shows that the portfolios are approximately equal to 99 percent.

To appease the favor of its shareholder Rackspace has already pursued first new ways and changed its strategy and even stopped the pursuit race in the public cloud. According to Rackspace CTO John Engates customers are increasingly asking for help, so Rackspace should support with its knowledge to build cloud infrastructures. Thus Rackspace seems a little less focus on hosting of cloud services in the future and instead invest more in consulting services of cloud infrastructures. This could be a smart move. Eventually, the demand for private cloud infrastructures continues and OpenStack will play a leading role here. Another opportunity could be the hybrid cloud, by connecting the private cloud infrastructures with Rackspace’s public cloud.

Own technologies are a competitive advantage

Another interesting question is whether a technology, what OpenStack ultimately only is, is critical of success? A look at leading vendors such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Windows Azure and now the Google Compute Engine as well as their perceived Crown Princes (CloudSigma, ProfitBricks) show one thing. All have built proprietary infrastructure solutions under the IaaS offerings. Although as far as all set on one or the other open-source solution. But in the end everything is self developed and integrated. This leads to the conclusion that proprietary technologies are a competitive advantage, since eventually only a single provider benefits from it. Or was Amazon AWS “just the first provider on the market” and therefore has this huge lead?

Figures speak for OpenStack private clouds

On the official OpenStack website use cases are presented, that show how OpenStack is actually used. These are divided into the categories: On-Premise Private Cloud, Hosted Private Cloud, Hybrid Cloud and Public Cloud. A look at the current deployment (as of 01/14/2014) for the OpenStack use comes to the following result.

OpenStack-Deployments 01/14/2014

Thus, On-Premise Private Cloud (55) installations are quite clear at the top with a wide margin followed by Hosted Private Cloud (19) and Public Cloud (17) deployments. The following are Hybrid Clouds (10) and not exactly specified projects (4).

Please note, the figures are the deployments that were officially reported to OpenStack. However, those show a clear trend where the future of OpenStack is. In the private cloud. Where I assume that hosted private cloud deployments and hybrid clouds will increase even more. As well as OpenStack installations that serve as a means to an end and build the pure infrastructural basis for Web services.


Top 10 article on CloudUser in 2013

The year 2013 is coming to an end and it’s time for a little summary of the most-read articles on CloudUser. Here are the Top 10 of all English-speaking articles in 2013 (01.01.2013 – 30.12.2013).

1. Building a hosted private cloud with the open source cloud computing infrastructure solution openQRM

A how-to and backgrounds to build an own private cloud with the open source cloud infrastructure software openQRM.

2. Security Comparison: TeamDrive vs. ownCloud

A copious analysis on the security architectures behind TeamDrive and ownCloud.

3. The cloud computing market in Germany 2013

An inventory and analysis of the German cloud computing market in 2013.

4. My cloud computing predictions for 2014

My cloud computing predictions for the next year – 2014.

5. Caught in a gilded cage. OpenStack provider are trapped.

A critical comment on the issues of OpenStack and its community.

6. Amazon EBS: When does Amazon AWS eliminate its single point of failure?

An analysis on the abnormalities during most Amazon AWS outages where Amazon EBS played a leading role.

7. Google Compute Engine seems to be no solution for the long haul

A critical comment on Google’s public statements on the future of the Google Compute Engine.

8. The Amazon Web Services to grab at the enterprise IT. A reality check.

An analysis after the AWS re:invent on Amazon’s opportunities to embrace the enterprise IT.

9. Disgusting: Protonet and its cloud marketing

A comment on the cloud marketing strategy of Protonet – a social NAS solution.

10. Netflix releases more “Monkeys” as open source – Eucalyptus Cloud will be pleased

An analysis on Netflix open source tools and why Eucalyptus benefits from it.


Compared to the German Top 10, where private cloud and security topics are the most-read, amongst the English-speaking articles no favorite trend is readily identifiable.


Why I do not (yet) believe in the Deutsche Börse Cloud Exchange (DBCE)

After a global „drumbeat“ it has become quite silent around the Deutsche Börse Cloud Exchange (DBCE). However, I am often asked about the cloud marketplace, which have the pretension to revolutionize the infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) market, and asked about my estimation on its market potential and future. Well, summing up I always come to the same statement, that I, regarding the present situation, not yet believe in the DBCE and grant it a little market potential. Why? Read on.

Two business models

At first, I see two business models within the DBCE. The first one will become real in 2014. The marketplace for the supply and demand of virtual infrastructure resources (compute and storage), which should be used by enterprises to run their workloads (applications, store data).

The second one is a dream of the future. The trading of virtual resources, as we know it with Futures. Let’s be honest, what is the true job of a stock exchange? The real task? The core business? To organize and monitor the transfer of critical infrastructure resources and workloads? No. A stock exchange is able to determine the price of virtual goods and trade them. The IaaS marketplace is just the precursor, to prepare the market for this trade business and to bring together the necessary supply and demand.

Provider and User

For a marketplace basically two parties are required. The suppliers and demanders, in this case the user. Regarding the suppliers, the DBCE should not worry. If the financial, organizational and technical effort is relatively low, the supply side will offer enough resources quickly. The issues are on the buyer side.

I’ve talked with Reuven Cohen on that topic who released SpotCloud as the first worldwide IaaS marketplace in 2010. At the peak of demand, SpotCloud administrated 3.200 provider(!) and 100.000 server worldwide. The buyer side looked modest.

Even if Reuven was too early in 2010 I still see five important topics who are in charge of, that the adoption rate of the DBCE will delay: Trust, psychology, uses cases, technology (APIs) and management.

Trust and Psychology

In theory the idea behind DBCE sounds great. But why is the DBCE trustworthier compared to another IaaS marketplaces? Does a stock exchange still enjoy the confidence for what it stands respectively it has to stand for as an institution? In addition, IT decision maker have a different point of view. The majority of the enterprises is still overwhelmed with the public cloud and fear to outsource their IT and data. There is a reason why Crisp Research figures show that the spending’s for public IaaS in Germany for 2013 are just about 210 million euro. On the other side investments in private cloud infrastructures are about 2.3 billion euro.

This is also underwritten by a Forrester study which implies:

“From […] over 2,300 IT hardware buyers, […] about 55% plan to build an internal private cloud within the next 12 months.”

This, an independent marketplace does not change. On the contrary, even if it should offer more transparency, it creates a new complexity level between user and provider, which the user needs to understand and adopt. This is also reflected in use cases and workloads that should run on the DBCE.

Use Cases

Why should someone use the DBCE? A question that is not easy to answer. Why should someone buy resources through a marketplace, even if he can purchase them directly from a provider who already has a global footprint, many customers and a stable infrastructure? The price and comparability could be essential attributes. If a virtual machine (VM) at provider A is today at a reduced rate compared to provider B, then the VM of provider A is used. Really? No, this leads to a more complex application architecture which will be not in due proportion to its use. Cloud computing is too complex, that a smart architect to refrain from doing this. In this context you should also not forget the technical barriers a cloud user have to deal with by adopting current but further developed cloud infrastructures.

One interesting scenario that could be build with the DBCE is a multi-cloud concept to spread the technical risks (eg. outage of a provider).

Where we come to the biggest barrier – the APIs.

API and Management

The discussions on „the“ preferred API standard in the cloud do not stop. Amazon EC2 (compute) and Amazon S3 (storage) are deemed to be the de-facto standard which most of the provider and projects support.

As a middleware the DBCE tries to settle between the provider and user to provide a consistent own(!) interface for both sides. For this purpose the DBCE sets on the technology of Zimory, which offers an open but proprietary API. Instead of focusing on a best-known standard or to adopt one from the open source community (OpenStack), the DBCE tries to make its own way.

Question: Against the background, that we Germans, regarding the topic of cloud, not to cover us with own glory. Why should the market admit to a new proprietary standard that comes from Germany?

Further issues are the management solutions for cloud infrastructures. Either potential user already decide for a solution and thus have the challenge to integrate the new APIs or they are still in the decision process. In this case the issue comes with the non-supported DBCE APIs by common cloud management solutions.

System integrator and Cloud-Broker

There exist two target groups who have the potential to open the door to the user. System integrators (channel partner) and cloud-broker.

A cloud service broker is a third party vendor, who, on the demand of its customer, enriches the services with an added value and ensures that the service fulfills the specific requirements of an enterprise. In addition, he helps with the integration and aggregation of the services to increase its security or to enhance the original service with further properties.

A system integrator develops (and operates) on the demand of its customer a system or application on a cloud infrastructure.

Since both are acting on behalf of the user and operate the infrastructures, systems and applications, they can adopt the proprietary APIs and make sure, that the users don’t have to deal with it. Moreover, system integrators as well as cloud-broker can use the DBCE to purchase cloud resources cheap and setup a multi-cloud model. Therefore the complexity of the system architecture in the cloud plays a leading role, but which the user may not notice.

It is a matter of time

In this article I’ve asked more questions as I’ve answered. I don’t want to rate the DBCE too negative, because the idea is good. But the topics mentioned above are essentially important to get a foot in the door of the user. This will become a learning process for both sides I estimate a timeframe of about five years, until this model leads to a significant adoption rate on the user side.


Diversification? Microsoft’s Cloud OS Partner Network mutates to an "OpenStack Community"

At first sight the announcement of the new Microsoft Cloud OS Partner Network sounds indeed interesting. Who doesn’t want to use the Microsoft public cloud directly, as of now can select from one of several partner to access the Microsoft technologies indirectly. It is also possible to span a hybrid cloud between the Microsoft cloud and the partner clouds or the own data center. For Microsoft and its technological extension within the cloud it is indeed a clever move. But for the so-called „Cloud OS Partner Network“ this activity could backfire.

Microsoft Cloud OS Partner Network

The Cloud OS Partner Network consists of more than 25 cloud service provider worldwide, which, according to Microsoft, focuses especially on hybrid cloud scenarios based on Microsoft’s cloud platform. For this purpose, they rely on a combination of the Windows Server with Hyper-V, System Center and the Windows Azure Pack. With that, Microsoft tries to underwrite its vision to establish its Cloud OS as a basis for customer data center, service provider clouds and the Microsoft public cloud.

For this reason, the Cloud OS Partner Network serves more than 90 different markets with a total customer base of three million companies worldwide. Overall 2.4 million server and more than 425 data center build the technological base.

Among others the partner network includes provider like T-Systems, Fujitsu, Dimension Data, CSC and Capgemini.

Advantages for Microsoft and the customer: Locality and extension

For Microsoft, the Cloud OS Partner Network is a clever move to, measured by the distribution of Microsoft cloud technologies, gains more worldwide market share. In addition, it fits perfectly into Microsoft’s proven strategy to serve the customer not directly but over a network of partner.

The partner network also comes towards the customer. Companies who avoided the Microsoft public cloud (Windows Azure), due to data locality reasons or local policies like data privacy, are now able to find a provider in their own country and do not have to dispense with the desired technologies. For Microsoft, another advantage is the fact, not coercively to build a data center in each country, but to concentrate on the existing or the strategically important once.

With that, Microsoft can lean back a little and let again make a partner network do the uncomfortable sales. The incomes come, as before the age of the cloud, over selling licenses to the partner.

Downside for the partner: Diversification

You can find great stories about this partner network. But the fact is, with the Cloud OS Partner Network, Microsoft creates a similar competitive situation you can find in the OpenStack Community. Especially in the public cloud, with Rackspace and HP, there exist just two „top provider“, who only play a minor part in the worldwide cloud circus. Notably HP fights more with itself and is therefore not able to concentrate on innovations. However, the main problem of both and all the other providers is that they are not able to differentiate from each other. Instead, most of the providers stand in a direct competition to each other and currently not diverge significantly. This is due to the fact, that all set on the same technological base. An analysis on the current situation of the OpenStack community can be found under “Caught in a gilded cage. OpenStack provider are trapped.

The situation for the Cloud OS Partner Network is even more uncomfortable. Unlike in OpenStack, Microsoft is the only technology supplier and decides where it is going on. The partner network need to swallow what is set before them and just can adapt further technology stacks which lead to more overhead and thus further cost for development and operations.

Except for the local markets, all Cloud OS service provider are in a direct competition and based solely on Microsoft technologies are not able to differentiate otherwise. Good support and professional services are extremely important and an advantage but no USP in the cloud.

If the Cloud OS Partner Network flops, Microsoft will get away with a black eye. The great harm the partners will carry home.

Technology as a competitive advantage

Looking at the real successful cloud provider on the market it becomes clear that those who have developed their clouds based on an own technology stack and therefore differentiate technological from the rest. These are Amazon, Google or Microsoft and precisely not Rackspace or HP who both set on OpenStack.

This, Cloud OS partner like Dimension Data, CSC or Capgemini should keep in mind. In particular CSC and Dimension Data have big claims to have a say in the cloud.


Hosted Private Platform-as-a-Service: Chances and opportunities for ISVs and enterprises

While platform-as-a-service (PaaS) has repeatedly predicted a rosy future, the service model not really gains momentum. During conversations you find out, that PaaS is likely be used for prototyping. But when it comes to production environments it is switched to infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offerings. The main reason for this is the level of control. This is the main selection criterion for respectively against a PaaS. IaaS just offers more opportunities to influence the virtual infrastructure, software, and services. In contrast using a PaaS you have to develop against a standardized API, which offers not a lot liberty. Especially for ISVs (Independent Software Vendor) and enterprises a PaaS offers some capabilities to comfortable serve developers with resources. Who has no trust in a public PaaS can also access so-called Hosted Private PaaS.


Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) is the middle layer of the cloud computing service model and goes one step further as infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS). A PaaS is responsible to provide a transparent development environment. Here the provider serves a platform on which web-applications can be developed, tested and hosted. Afterwards the applications are running on the infrastructure of the provider using its resources. Thereby the complete lifecycle of an application can be managed. The services on the provider’s platform are accessed using its APIs. The benefits, especially for small companies, exist to reduce the development infrastructure to a minimum. They only need a computer, a web browser, maybe a local IDE, a data connection and their knowledge to develop the application. The rest is part of the provider who is responsible for the infrastructure (OS, webserver, runtime environments, etc.).

Platform as a Service
Source: Cloud Computing mit der Microsoft Plattform, Microsoft Press PreView 1-2009

Hosted Private Platform-as-a-Service

Hosted Private Platform-as-a-Services (Hosted PaaS) converts PaaS into a dedicated and by a provider-managed alternative. It is especially attractive to enterprises that try to avoid the public approach (shared infrastructure, multi-tenancy) but do not own the resources and knowledge to provide their developers a true PaaS within the own infrastructure. In this case, they can access provider who offer them an exclusive PaaS in a reserved environment. The advantage is that the customer can use the hosted private PaaS exactly as a public PaaS but within a non-shared infrastructure, which is located in the data center of the provider.

Another advantage of a hosted PaaS is the professional services the vendor directly includes to help its customers migrating the application onto the PaaS or develop them from scratch. The concept is comparable to the managed clouds respectively business clouds in the IaaS area. ( This is interesting for enterprises as well as ISVs, who until now, has not much or no experiences developing cloud applications or do not trust public cloud offerings like Amazon Elastic Beanstalk, Microsoft Windows Azure, Heroku or

A sign that public PaaS in Germany is not gaining momentum, is the fact that Germany’s very first PaaS provider cloudControl encapsulated its public PaaS into the Application Lifecycle Engine to offer it as a private PaaS for enterprises and webhoster (white label) to empower them running a PaaS in a self-managed infrastructure. In addition it’s possible to span a bridge to a hybrid PaaS.

The managed IaaS provider Pironet NDH is the first German provider who has jumped on the hosted private PaaS train. The company from cologne tries to offer ISVs and SaaS provider a platform including professional services to let them provide their web applications from a German data center. Besides .NET, PHP, Java, Perl, Python, Ruby, node.js or Go, Pironet NDH offers a complete Windows Azure PaaS support, which is known from Microsoft’s Windows Azure public cloud. With that, Azure developed applications can also be operated within the German Pironet NDH data center. Both PaaS offerings are building separately. The polyglot PaaS (multi-language) based on a RedHat OpenShift implementation. The Azure PaaS based on the Windows Azure Pack. Even if Pironet NDH mostly focus on one on one business relationships, they also start a public PaaS alternative in Q1/Q2 2014, but which are just market secondary.

In particular at traditional ISVs, Pironet NDH and its offering to preach to the choir. In the future its customers will more and more ask for web applications, which will become a big challenge for one or the other ISV. Amount other things, these will profit from professional services to deliver existing and new applications faster to the market.

Public cloud provider need to react

The „hosted private“ trend comes from the IaaS area, where currently also Hosted Private Clouds have a high momentum for managed respectively business clouds. This for a good reason. Especially the data privacy topic pushes ISVs and enterprises into the arms of provider with dedicated solutions. In addition, customers are willing to pay more for higher security, data control and consulting.

Public cloud provider needs to react to face customer requirements. With Salesforce, the first big public cloud player drops its pants down. First, a quote by Joachim Schreiner, Managing Director, Salesforce Germany: “Private clouds are no clouds. This is nothing else like an application service provider contract, which already had been closed in the year 2000, when the necessary bandwidth had been available.” Apparently, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff sees this quite different. Eventually, the cash till keeps ringing when the customers are satisfied. For this, Salesforce introduced its „Salesforce Superpod“ during the Dreamforce 2013. This is a dedicated cloud based on HPs Converged Infrastructure. Thus, in principle nothing else like a hosted private cloud.


Quo vadis VMware vCloud Hybrid Service? What to expect from vCHS?

In May of this year, with the vCloud hybrid service (vCHS) VMware presented its first infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) offering in a private beta. The infrastructure service is fully managed by VMware and is based on VMware vSphere. Companies that already have virtualized their own on-premise infrastructure with VMware, are to be given the opportunity to seamlessly expand their data center resources such as applications and processes to the cloud, to span a hybrid cloud. As part of the VMworld 2013 Europe in Barcelona in October, VMware has announced the availability of the vCHS in England with a new data center facility in Slough near London. The private beta of the European vCloud hybrid service will be available from the fourth quarter of 2013, with general availability planned for the first quarter of 2014. This step shows that VMware ascribes the public cloud an important role, but was especially made ​​to meet the needs of European customers.

Be softly with gleeful expectations?

During the press conference at VMworld in Barcelona VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger made ​​the glad announcement that instead of the expected 50 registrations even 100 participants have registered for the test of vCHS private beta. After all, this is an improvement over the expectations by 100 percent. However, 100 test customers cannot be a success for a vendor like VMware. Just take a look on the broad customer base and the effectiveness of their sales.

It is therefore necessary to ask the question how attractive a VMware IaaS offering actually can be and how attractive VMware technology, most notably VMware’s in the enterprise widespread hypervisor, will be in the future. Discussions with IT leaders arise more frequently that VMware’s hypervisor for cost reasons and sense of independence (lock-in) should be superseded by an open source hypervisor like KVM in short to medium term.

Challenges: Amazon Web Services and the partner network

With vCHS VMware is positioning itself exactly as about 95 percent of all vendors in the IaaS market: With compute power and storage. A service portfolio is not available. However, VMware sees the Amazon Web Services (AWS) as a main goal and primary competitor when it comes to attract customers.

However, AWS customers – also enterprise customers – use more than just the infrastructure. Every time I talk to AWS customers, I ask my standard question: “How many infrastructure-related AWS services do you use?” If I sum up all previous answers together, I come to an average of eleven to twelve services that an AWS customer is using. Most say that they would use as many services as necessary in order to have as little effort as possible. A key experience was a customer who, without hesitation and with wide eyes, said he is using 99 percent of all the services.

AWS is a popular and particularly attractive target. With the view on AWS only, VMware should be careful and not lose its network of partners and in particular lose the sight of the service provider that have built their infrastructures with VMware technology, including CSC, Dimension Data, Savvis, Tier 3, Verizon or Virtustream.

From first service providers there are already comments, to turn one’s back on VMware and support other hypervisors such as Microsoft Hyper-V. VMware sees these discussions so far relaxed as vCHS is intended purely for standardized workloads and VMware-powered service provider should take care of the specific customer needs.

Quo vadis vCloud Hybrid Service?

Because of its technology, which is used in a variety of cloud service providers, VMware operates passive for some time in the IaaS environment. However, the still in the beta vCloud hybrid Service is in direct competition to this partner network, so it will come to the question of trust between the two sides.

This is particularly due to the fact that vCHS offers more functionality than the typical vCloud Datacenter Service. This includes, among other things, the new vCloud hybrid service online marketplace, with which the user in accordance to VMware have access to more than 3,800 applications and services, which they can use in conjunction with vCHS.

VMware’s strategy consists primarily to build a seamless technical bridge between local VMware installations and vCHS – including the ability to transfer existing standard workloads between the own data center and vCHS. How much success VMware will have with this strategy needs to be seen.

One result of our exploration of the European cloud market has shown that most European companies like the properties of the cloud – flexible use, pay-per-use and scalability – but rather passed the construction and operation of their applications and systems to the provider (as a managed or hosted service).

These are good conditions for all service providers who have built their infrastructure based on VMware technology, but help customers with professional services on the way to the cloud. However, these are not the best conditions for VMware vCHS since vCHS will only support self-service and standard workloads.

As is typical for U.S. companies, VMware launched its European vCHS in England. The company has already announced plans to be active in other countries within Europe. The European commitment has mainly the background to appease the concerns of Europeans and to respond to their specific needs. Here VMware’s EMEA strategy envisages the points data locality, sovereignty, trust, security, compliance and governance. I do not want to appear too critical, but here the name is interchangeable: All cloud providers advertise with the same requirements.

Basically it can be said that the vCloud hybrid service in combination with the rest of VMware’s portfolio has a good chance to play a leading role in the IaaS market. This is mainly due to the broad customer base, a strong ecosystem and the many years of experience with enterprise customers.

According to VMware figures more than 500,000 customers including 100 percent of the Fortune 500, 100 percent of the Fortune Global 100 and 95 percent of the 100 DAX companies using VMware technology. Furthermore, more than 80 percent of virtualized workloads and a large number of mission-critical applications running on VMware.

This means that the transition to a VMware-based hybrid cloud is not an unusual step to scale without great expense. Furthermore, VMware like no other virtualization or cloud provider have a very large ecosystem of partners, resellers, consultants, trainers and distribution channels. With this ecosystem VMware has a great advantage over its competitors in the IaaS and generally in the cloud computing environment.

The situation is similar in the technical attractiveness. Organizationally VMware does not set on a typical public cloud environment, but either provides a physically isolated dedicated cloud per customer or a virtual private cloud. The dedicated cloud provides much more power than the virtual private cloud and provides the customers a physically separated pool of vCPUs and vRAM. The storage and network are logically isolated between the client. The virtual private cloud provides customers with the same design architecture of the dedicated cloud with resources, but these are only logical and not be physically separated.

With vCHS existing VMware infrastructures can comfortable be spanned to a hybrid cloud to move resources back and forth as needed. In addition, a company can thus build test and development or disaster recovery environments. However, this is for what a number of VMware service providers stand by, which could be the biggest challenge for both sides.


Cloud Computing Myth: Less know-how is needed

I recently found an interesting statement in an article which describes the advantages of cloud computing. A caption was named “It’s not needed to build additional know-how within the company”. This is totally wrong. On the contrary it’s exactly the opposite. It is more knowledge needed as each vendor is promising.

There is a lack of knowledge

The kind and amount of the needed knowledge depends on the service that is used from the cloud. For an alleged high-standardized software-as-a-service (SaaS) application like e-mail there is less knowledge needed regarding the service and its characteristics compared to a service, which maps a certain process.

For the use of infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) or platform-as-a-service (PaaS) it looks quite different. Although the provider takes care about building, operating and maintaining the physical infrastructure in this case. The responsibility for the virtual infrastructure (IaaS) behooves by the customer. The provider itself – for fee-based support – or certified system integrator help here by building and operating. It’s the same while operating an own application on a cloud infrastructure. The cloud provider is not responsible and just serves the infrastructure and means and ways with APIs, web interfaces and sometimes added value services, to help customers with the development. In this context one need to understand, that depending on the cloud scale – scale out vs. scale up – the application have to be developed completely different – namely distributed and automatically scalable across multiple systems (scale out) – as in the case of a non-cloud environment. This architecturally knowledge is lacking in most companies at every nook and corner, which is also due to the fact that colleges and universities have not taught this kind of programmatic thinking.

Cloud computing is still more complex than it appears at first glance. The prime example for this is Netflix. The U.S. video-on-demand provider operates its platform within a public cloud infrastructure (Amazon AWS). In addition to an extensive production system, which ensures the scalable and high-performance operation, it also has developed an extensive test suite – the Netflix Symian Army – which is only responsible for ensuring the smooth operation of the production system – inter alia virtual machines are constantly arbitrarily being shot down, but the production system must still continue to function properly.

The demand for the managed cloud rises

Although, the deployment model can less reduce the complexity, but the responsibility and the necessary know-how can be shifted. Within a public cloud the self-service rules. This means that the customer is first 100 percent on his own and is solely responsible for the development and operation of his application.

This, many companies have recognized and confess to themselves that they either do not have the necessary knowledge, staff and other resources to successfully use a public cloud (IaaS). Instead, they prefer or expect help from the cloud providers. In these cases it is not about public cloud providers, but managed cloud/ business cloud providers who also help in addition to infrastructure with professional services.

Find more on the topic of managed cloud at “The importance of the Managed Cloud for the enterprise“.


Dropbox alternatives for the enterprise IT

The popularity of easy of use cloud storage services like Dropbox to cause IT decision makers quite a headache. Withal, the market already offers enterprise ready solutions. This article introduces cloud services for the professional use.

Dropbox drives shadow IT

Dropbox has driven cloud storage services into the enterprise. The fandom of the US provider extends from the ordinary employee up to the executive floor. In particular, the fast access, the ease of use on each device and the little costs made Dropbox to an attractive product. But what sounds like a true success story at first, is in reality a serious problem for CIOs and IT manager. Dropbox has led to a new form of shadow IT. Meant, here is the widely uncontrolled growth of IT solutions, employees and departments use without taking care of the IT department, purchasing these using credit cards. Behind this mostly stands the criticism internal IT departments are not able to deliver suitable solutions fast and in a desired quality. This leads to situations, where company data are stored on private Dropbox accounts, where they do not have to belong.

The Dropbox boom and the easy access to public cloud services in general led to a discussion about the right to exist of traditional IT departments. Sooner or later they could die out some analysts predict. Then the IT strings are in the hand of the Line of Business Manager (LOB). Yet, the reality looks different: In particular, the often anxious LOB Manager have normally neither the time nor the knowledge, to make such IT decisions. They indeed know what is important for their area, but do they have the knowledge, which systems also have to play together? For many years companies fight with not ideal integrated isolated applications and data silos. Public cloud solutions exponentiate this problem and Dropbox is just the tip of the iceberg.

To get the Dropbox phenomenon under control several vendor of enterprise cloud storage have established in the past years. The widely used Dropbox service offers by far not what typical enterprise policies and IT governance models demand.

Dropbox for Business

Since 2011 “Dropbox for Business”, a corporate offer with advanced features for more safety, team management and reporting capabilities, exists. However, the solution does not have the breadth and variety of functions like other similar offers on the market. Therefore, Dropbox is more suited for small and familiar teams that do not require as much control as larger companies. For $795 per year for five users unlimited space is available. Each additional user cost $125 per year.

Administrators get access over a dashboard to information about the activities of their users. This includes the used devices, browser sessions and applications. Here it is also possible to close browser sessions, disconnect devices and disable third-party apps.

For improved security, various authentication mechanisms can be activated, including a two-factor authentication. There is also a single sign-on (SSO) integration with Active Directory and other SSO providers. For the technical infrastructure Dropbox uses Amazon S3. This means that the data is stored in one of the global Amazon data centers. Although these data centers meet high safety standards as SSAE16, ISAE 3402 and ISO 27001. However, Dropbox does not guarantee a specific location of the data within the Amazon Cloud, like a data center in the EU. Dropbox indicates that the data is encrypted with AES 256-bit before it is stored on Amazon S3. However, Dropbox has plain text access to user files. A separate encryption is only possible with external tools.

Another deficit is the lack of audit mechanisms at file level and activities of the user. It is not possible to centrally look into a single user account, or to look for an earlier version of the file. This only works if one register as a user to look into the data. In addition, the reports provide no information about user activities such as uploading and sharing of files – a big gap in the audit process.


  • Ease of use.
  • Supports the major operating systems.
  • Big market share and acceptance in consumer space.
  • Unlimited storage space at an attractive price.


  • Dropbox has full plain text access to user files.
  • No end-to-end encryption.
  • Data encryption using external tools.
  • Weak reporting.
  • Insufficient administration and audit options.
  • Location of the data can not be set.


Box is one of the well-known providers of public cloud enterprise storage and targets its functions to small and medium-sized as well as large companies.The business plan is $15 per user per month for 3 to 500 users. This includes 1,000 GB of storage space. Box for Enterprise IT offers an unlimited number of users and unlimited disk space, the prices are obtained on request.

Clients for common desktop and mobile operating systems allow synchronization and uploading of data with almost any device. Files can be locked and automatically be released after time. In addition, depending on the plan, the version history is stored between 25 to 100 files. Other functions allow external authentication mechanisms, user management and auditing capabilities. The enterprise plan offers further management functions and access to APIs.

Depending on the plan more functions open. This can be particularly well seen on the permissions level. The higher the plan, the more types of users and access rights can be assigned to an object. Business and enterprise customers also get detailed reporting capabilities. These include, among other things, information on who has viewed and modified which files. Other safety features Box offers with authentication mechanisms for Active Directory, Salesforce, NetSuite, Jive and DocuSign and single sign-on (SSO) integration capabilities. In terms of data center capacity Box cooperates with Equinix. Among others, there is a data center in Amsterdam for the European market. Where Equinix has no sites, Box relies on Amazon Web Services.

Box ‘biggest weakness is the limitation on 40,000 objects for files and folders. This restrictions customers have already pointed out in mid-2012. So far, nothing has changed. There is only the information that the limit is raised to 100,000 objects in “Box Sync 4”.


  • Ease of use.
  • Variety of extensions.
  • Supports the major operating systems.
  • Many relevant features for business (management, audit, etc).


  • Files and folders are limited to 40,000 objects.
  • Encryption codes are owned by Box.


TeamDrive from Hamburg is a file sharing and synchronization solution. It is intended for companies that do not want to save their sensitive data at external cloud services, but still want to allow their teams to synchronize data or documents. For this TeamDrive monitors any folder on a PC, laptop or smartphone that can be used and edited together with invited users. Thus, data is also offline available at all times. An automatic synchronization, backup and versioning of documents protect users against data loss. With the possibility to operate TeamDrive registration and hosting server in an own data center, the software can be integrated into existing IT infrastructures. For this reason all necessary APIs are available. For TeamDrive Professional enterprise customers pay 5.99 euros per user per month, or 59.99 euros per year.

Using the global TeamDrive DNS service several independently operated TeamDrive systems can be linked together. If necessary, this allows customers to build a controlled community cloud in a hybrid scenario.

TeamDrive offers many business-related functions for the management and control of a storage service. These include a rights management on Space-level for different user groups, as well as a version control system to access older versions of documents and changes of group members. For the synchronization of the data, clients for all major local and mobile operating systems are available, including Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS and Android. With TeamDrive SecureOffice, the vendor has also brought an expansion of its mobile clients on the market, with which documents can be processed within an end-to-end encryption. An integrated mobile device management (MDM) helps to manage all devices used with TeamDrive. These can be added, blocked or erased. TeamDrive can be bound to existing directory services such as Active Directory and LDAP to synchronize the user administration.

In addition to these management functions TeamDrive features a fully integrated end-to-end encryption where the encryption keys are exclusively owned by the user. Thus, TeamDrive is not able to access the data at no time. For encryption, TeamDrive relies on AES 256 and RSA 3072

It should also be mentioned that TeamDrive, as the only enterprise storage solution, carries the privacy seal by the Independent Centre for Privacy Protection Schleswig-Holstein (ULD). The privacy seal confirms that TeamDrive is suitable for the use in businesses and governments for the confidential exchange of data.


  • End-to-end encryption.
  • Different encryption mechanisms.
  • SecureOffice for mobile secure processing of documents.
  • Certification by the ULD.
  • Integrated mobile device management.
  • Many relevant functions for businesses.


  • No locking of files.
  • No browser access.

Microsoft SkyDrive Pro

SkyDrive Pro is Microsoft’s enterprise cloud storage, which is provided in conjunction with SharePoint Online and Office 365. The service is exclusively designed for business purposes and therefore should be different from SkyDrive. SkyDrive is aimed at home users who should predominantly store and share documents and photos in the Microsoft cloud. The management of SkyDrive Pro is in the responsibility of a company. Employees should store, share, and collaborate business documents with colleagues within a private domain.

SkyDrive Pro is fully synchronized with SharePoint 2013 and Office 365. An administrator decides how the libraries can be used within SkyDrive Pro for each user. For this purpose, different access rights for users and user groups can be assigned. Using a client documents can be synchronized with the local computer. Mobile clients are available for iOS and Windows Phone. Android and Blackberry are currently not supported.

Documents or entire folders can be shared with individual colleagues or distribution lists. Access rights can be assigned for read or write access. A recipient then receives an e-mail including the comment and the link to the document and can follow it to get change information later. Sharing with partners and customers outside the domain is possible if the company supports external sharing.

According to Microsoft, all data in SkyDrive Pro will be protected with several layers of encryption. The only way to get the information, is if an administrator granted access rights to it. Furthermore, Microsoft guarantees that the private corporate data is protected from search engines so that no meta-data is collected in any form. In addition, SkyDrive Pro is compliant with HIPAA, FISMA and other data protection standards.


  • Integration with Office 365 and SharePoint.
  • Clients for mobile operating systems.


  • Proprietary Microsoft system.
  • European data center only (Dublin, Amsterdam).
  • No Android client.

Amazon S3

Over a web service, Amazon S3 (Amazon Simple Storage Service) provides the access to an unlimited amount of storage in the Amazon cloud. Unlike to competing cloud storage services the storage can only be accessed via a REST and SOAP interface (API). Amazon does not provide an own local client for synchronization. This is due to the fact, that Amazon S3 basically serves as a central storage location, many other Amazon services use to store or retrieve data. Here an ecosystem of partners help with paid clients to make use of synchronization capabilities with desktop and mobile operating systems. Using the own Amazon AWS Management Console, folders and files can be accessed via the web interface.

With the API, data as objects can be stored, read, and deleted in the Amazon Cloud. The maximum size of an object is 5 GB. Objects are organized in buckets (folders). Authentication mechanisms ensure that the data is protected from unauthorized third parties. For this purpose, objects can be marked for private or public access and assigned with different user access rights to the objects.

Amazon S3 pricing varies by region in which the data is stored. One GB of storage used for the first TB in the EU region cost 0,095 U.S. dollars per month. In addition, the outgoing data transfer is charged. Up to 10 TB per month the traffic costs $0.12 per GB.

Many other cloud storage services use Amazon S3 to store the user data, including Dropbox, Bitcasa or Ubuntu One.


  • The API is the de facto standard in the market.
  • Very high scalability.
  • Very good track record.


  • No own clients.
  • The pay-per-use model requires strict cost control.


Like TeamDrive, ownCloud is a file sharing and synchronization solution. It is aimed at companies and organizations that want to keep their data under control and not to rely on external cloud storage services. The core of the application is the ownCloud server. This allows to integrate the software along with the ownCloud clients seamlessly into the existing IT infrastructure. In addition, the server enables the use of existing IT management tools. ownCloud serves as a local directory which mounts different local storages. Thus, the files are available to all employees on all devices. In addition to a local storage, directories can be connected via NFS and CIFS.

The ownCloud functions form a set of add-ons that are directly integrated into the system. These include a file manager, a contact manager and extensions to OpenID, WebDAV and a browser plugin for viewing of documents such as ODF and PDF. Other applications for enterprise collaboration are available on ownCloud’s own marketplace. Files can be uploaded using a browser or synchronized with clients for local and mobile operating systems.

Security is provided via a plugin for the server-side encryption, but which is not enabled by default. Is the plugin enabled, the files are encrypted when they are stored on the server. Here, only the contents of the files, the file names themselves are not encrypted. In addition ownCloud relies exclusively on security “at rest”.

The biggest advantage of ownCloud is also its disadvantage. The control over the data, which a company recovers through the use of ownCloud, on the other hand causes costs for the setup and operation. Administrators need to have enough knowledge about the operation of web servers such as Apache, but also about PHP and MySQL to successfully run ownCloud. In addition, a meticulous configuration is needed, without the expected performance of an ownCloud installation can not be reached.


  • Open source.
  • Variety of applications.
  • Clients support the major operating systems.


  • Weak security and encryption.
  • High costs for the operation of an own ownCloud infrastructure.