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.


Whether public or private, a cloud is indispensable for everyone!

In 2014, we are finally in the year of the cloud. Promise! As in 2012 and 2013, it will make the breakthrough this year. Promise! It is written everywhere. If we take the sarcasm a little bit aside and face the reality, the truth does not look so bleak. It just depends on the shape of the cloud. IDC and Gartner are talking about billions of dollars to be invested in the global public IaaS market in the coming years. Crisp Research has looked at the German IaaS market in 2013 and came to completely opposite numbers. In public IaaS about 210 million euros were invested, while private cloud infrastructures reached investments of several billion euros. The contrast between two markets can’t hardly be different. But that’s ok. This our German mindset. Careful. Slowly. Successful. However, one thing companies should write on their agenda for 2014 and the years ahead. Whether talking about a public or private cloud. One thing is certain. No company can do without a cloud anymore! Guaranteed! Why? Read on.

The deployment model of IT has changed

Basically, in a cloud it is about how IT resources are provided. This is done on-demand via a self-service and using a billing model that determined costs according to actual consumption.

The above mentioned IT resources, in the form of applications (SaaS), platforms (development environments; PaaS) and infrastructures (virtual servers, storage; IaaS) are provided as services that a user can order. This means in reverse, that you may not stop at an ordinary virtualization. Virtualization is just a means to an end. Finally, the user must somehow get to the resources. Pick up the phone, call the IT department and wait is not a sign that a cloud infrastructure is available. Quite the contrary.

Based on what kind of cloud the resources are provided depends on the use case. There is no “Uber Cloud” that solves all the problems at once. For a public cloud exist sufficient use cases. Even for topics or industries that seem far away at first. Bottom line, in many cases it is a question of data. And exactly these needs to precisely be classified. Then it can come to the decision that only a private cloud comes into question. In this case, a company will become its own cloud provider (with all the highs and lows a public cloud provider has to deal with), develops its own cloud infrastructure and supplies its internal customers directly. Or one can go to one of the managed cloud providers, that exclusively operate a private cloud within a dedicated environment, only for one customer and also have professional services in their portfolio, that public cloud providers typically offer only via a network of partners.

It is solely crucial that companies turn to a cloud model, because…

Employees ask for services on demand

Employees want services and they want them now and not in two weeks or three months. And if they do not get what they need, then they find a way to get it. Honestly! There are many attractive alternatives on the IT market for quite some time, which are just a few clicks and a credit card number away to satisfy the needs. That especially in the IaaS area still waits a lot of work, with this case most non IT people are unaware. But they obviously got what they needed and if it was just the desire for attention. The cloud provider has finally responded immediately. The miracle of self-service!

IT-as-a-Service is not just a buzz word. It is the reality. IT departments are under pressure to work as a separate business unit and even develop products and services for their company or to provide them at least according to the needs. Therefore, they must respond proactively. And here not to apply cuffs is meant, by closing the firewall ports. No, here it is about to question themself.

That this works, the Deutsche Bahn subsidiary DB Systel impressively demonstrated by reducing the deployment process from 5 days to 5 minutes(!) per virtual server with its own private cloud.

Keep hybrid cloud in mind

While the constant discussions, whether a public or private cloud comes into question, one should always keep the option of a hybrid cloud in mind.

A hybrid cloud allows a unique use case for the use of a public cloud. Here, certain areas of the IT infrastructure (computing power and storage) are translocated in a public cloud environment. The rest and mission-critical areas remain within the self-managed on-premise IT infrastructure or private cloud.

In addition, the hybrid cloud model provides a valuable approach for the architecture design by sections of the local infrastructure, which cause high costs, but equally are difficult to scale, are combined with infrastructure that can be provisioned massively scalable and when required. The applications and data to be rolled out on the best platform for the individual case and the processing between the two is integrated.

The use of hybrid scenarios confirms the fact that not all IT resources should be translocated in public cloud environments and for some it’s never even come into question. Are overall issues such as compliance, speed requirements and security restrictions considered, a local infrastructure is still necessary. However, the experiences gained from the hybrid model help to understand what data should be kept locally and which can be processed within a public cloud environment.


Why companies to be at a loss without their IT department

Cloud computing and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) to drive modern IT solutions in the enterprise. From the ordinary employee, through specialist departments up to the board members constantly new cloud services and innovative devices are taken within the company and used for the daily work. In particular, the rapid access and ease of use of cloud solutions and consumer products to make attractive opportunities. What sounds like a workable idea at first is in reality a huge issue for CIOs and IT managers. Cloud computing and BYOD have led to a new form of shadow IT. It is the uncontrolled growth of IT solutions which employees and departments use without the knowledge of IT departments. The payment usually go over credit cards or expense to pass the IT. According to the motto: “Dear IT departments, what you are not able to provide in a fast and sufficiently good quality we get ourselves arbitrarily.” However, this leads to situations where, for example, enterprise data is stored on private Dropbox accounts where this, not only because of corporate policies, have no place.

Skills, desire and time

The easy access to cloud services in general has driven opinions into the market that IT departments could become extinct in this decade and the Line of Business Manager (LOB) will have all strings in their hands to purchase IT on their own. A fatal message. The fact is that most LOBs do not have the time, desire and knowledge to make such decisions.

This raises the question which tasks and responsibilities a LOB manager have to take additionally. In addition to the strategic direction of its department, the leadership and other organizational issues, is there still enough motivation left to take care of the “annoying” IT? That is doubtful.

Surely there is one or the other LOB manager who feels at ease with the challenges and would like to gain more influence over it. But just because someone almost perfectly understands his iPhone and can use a SaaS application, he does not yet have by far the skills to purchase and implement key IT processes.

Data silos and integration

Of course, LOB managers are informed about what they need for their own area. But do they also have the knowledge of which systems and interfaces have to play together? It sounds great when the marketing and sales manager, everyone for himself, can purchase own IT services. But what happens when the marketing wants to access the sales data and vice versa?

It should not be forgotten that companies, for many years, have been struggling with not well-integrated isolated solutions of applications and data silos. Cloud services potentiate this problem many times and solutions such as Dropbox are just the tip of the iceberg.

IT departments have the responsibility

IT departments need more control. Not to maintain the status quo, but because someone has to have the responsibility and the overview of the hybrid IT infrastructure in the future. At the same time, only the IT departments are able to monitor the various IT processes within the company and to define standard interfaces for cross-sectoral access. After all, when each department goes its own way, who is responsible to put away the mess at the end? Right, the IT departments! This also providers of cloud services should understand.

IT departments need to work together with the LOBs to understand and implement the technical requirements. However, this means that IT departments need to become more communicative.


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.