Home > May 2009

May 2009

The Enterprise Architect

Tuesday, May 26, 2009 0

Are you an Enterprise Architect. If you are you probably have little interaction with others of your ilk. Your one of a few in your company or working in a big consultancy house and always busy being billable.

If like me your are an EA you will find this panel discussion an interesting read about what your peers are thinking about in terms of your craft in todays climate. The transcript is from "The Open Group's 22nd annual Enterprise Architecture Practitioner's Conference in London"

There are some interesting comments such as

42 percent of the organizations have their enterprise architects actively involved in the strategic planning process
The point is that an enterprise architect needs to understand the mechanics of management. He needs to understand how decisions are made at the top level, and he needs to have an approach of presenting what he's doing and what he suggests in a way that is understandable and traceable for the most senior decision makers in the organization. We're basically moving towards management consulting.
Our EA team turns up with the best thing since sliced bread that they have been working on in a hothouse environment for the last three months, which will feed all known starving people across the world.

It doesn't help me select the business in terms of value. Recognizing value in terms of what the customer, in our case the actual user, wants is critical. EA should be much more physical, politically savvy, and much closer to their customers.
Go on, if you are an EA you will want to have a read. I know I did, which is funny because today my title changed from "Enterprise Architect - Virtualisation" to "Enterprise Architect - Virtualisation & Cloud". With that new title my wife now really has no clue as to what I do for a living.


Book : HPC, Grid, Data Grid, Virtualisation and Cloud Computing

Category : , 0

Getting into the cloud means seeking out sources of background information. I recently came across the book "HPC, Grid, Data Grid, Virtualisation and Cloud Computing" by Adam Vile and James Liddle. It is published as a Savvy Guide To which you order on demand via Lulu. I have picked up a few books via Lulu recently and recommend their service.

The book is 177 pages long and is a nice quick read. The chapters detail out a particular segment of the market and cover:

  • HPC
  • Grid
  • Distributed Data Caching and Datagrid
  • Virtualisation and Orchestration
  • Clouds on the Horizon
There is also a glossary, recommended reading list and an index.

The information is not too technical (no pages of formulas) and provides a good grounding for where the current state of Cloud has grown from. When someone asks you, "Well isn't todays Cloud just a form of Grid computing?" you can probably give a much better answer after reading this book. There is even a section on this topic, "Are Cloud and Grid the same" on page 133 - 135.

The section on Virtualisation was okay. However does a book set at this level need to describe what VMware Workstation and VMware GSX Server is? However it does mention and discuss vCloud, but don't expect it to reveal any deep details that are not in other sources.

For a taste, here is some of the text I highlighted whilst reading.
  • A grid can be thought of as a general computing resource in which different nodes of the grid work, in parallel, on computational tasks that have been broken down by the grid management software and farmed out using the grid scheduler.
  • Grid can be thought of as a virtualisation technology. [...] One way of thinking about the difference is to see Grid as enabling many processors to behave as one, and virtualistion enabling one processor to behave as many.
  • Cloud computing is essentially distributed computing that is built using services distributed over multiple locations. The services are typically delivered using a Grid or a cluster as a resource. Public clouds are hosted by companies such as Amazon and private clouds are typically specialised offerings that organisations build which adopt the technologies and practices of private cloud infrastructures, albeit with additional security.
  • The aims of Cloud match closely the original vision for Grid, and a convergence is inevitable.
  • We feel that HPC, Grid and Virtualisation have now crossed the chasm. Cloud is growing as a concept and it is only a matter of time, driven by competitiveness and economies at scale, that it too leaps the chasm.
  • Virtualisation is now being used successfully in production systems and is not not only a viable alternative, but, in some cases, is the only way to create the scale, flexibility and value required of the physical environment.
  • For the enterprise Orchestration and Virtualiastion go hand in hand.
  • VMware vCloud has a concept of vApps which could contain one or more virtual machines.
  • From a Grid persepctive virtualisation standards can only be a good thing as they protect from vendor lock in and make migration and mixed utilisation easier.
  • For grid computing to take hold on broader scale there is a need for a new layer of federated abstraction for coordinating all the connected pieces of hardware and a simple interface that hides the network's complexities from users. These are the ambitious standards that Citrix, VMware and a host of other vendors have set themselves to achieve.
  • On clouds It is this scalable or elastic nature of the clouds and the ability to be able to do this on demand that has attracted the attention of everyone from startup's to blue chip enterprises.
  • With most Grid and HPC applications being run inside of private data centers, and many already using virtualisation, the vCloud offering looks set to have a major impact on these environments, [...]
  • According to Gartner, private cloud Infrastructures are the future of IT.
  • According to Gartner this is much more suited to organisations real need for cloud right now because not everybody is ready to move wholesale to the cloud and many companies, whatever the size, will prefer a hybrid approach.
Of course the real meat is in the book, so if you have liked what you have read here and are wanting to know more about the earlier generations of Cloud and the wider HPC and Grid computing space then go order your copy. Enjoy.


What do you want from a vendor blog?

Monday, May 25, 2009 Category : 3

What information do you want to see in a vendor blog?

I noticed that Vizioncore have started a new company blog at http://vizioncorum.com/.

There were three entries on the home page which I read to get a feel for what they were going to do with this messaging to the world. Have they got it and should I come back was my thinking.

First a post by Scott Herold on PowerShell. This was a great post that took a topic and added some good insight. It told me what Vizioncore were doing in the space and why the topic linked with them. There was a statement about why I would be interested in coming back and hearing more (tips and tricks are coming) and it finished with some useful links. Spot on Scott, that post was worth my time in visiting a vendor site.

Second was a post on Cloud by David Feathergill, Chief Software Architect at Vizioncore. Being a Cloud nut I was expecting to see some insights on Cloud from the Vizioncore perspective. What is presented is a 101 on Cloud you could read at any old site with the closure of "I hope that this has helped to understand cloud computing and see how virtualization is an enabler for it." No value add, no insight on Vizioncore and what they are doing. Missed the mark.

Third was a post by Thomas Bryant. I am biased here as I have met Tom a few times and he is one great guy who knows his VMware stuff. Toms post was on capacity planning and it certainly gets a tick for some good insight. Did not do a lot about telling me what Vizioncore is doing for capacity management tools that don't use simple models. Good post.

So if we were to do a score I think a 6 out of 10. Is that going to make me add this site into my RSS feed, probably not, but I suspect most will just in case there is some good stuff coming based on their existing brand. However unless the interesting stuff does not start coming I suspect people will drop it.

Is this really a vendor blog though? If you look carefully Vizioncorum is "a Blog Community Dedicated to Virtualization Professionals" which is sponsored by Vizioncore. Given that every single panelist/contributor is a senior Vizioncore employee it certainly looks like a Vendor site. Its certainly the impression you get when you visit.

So why rave on about this stuff. Vendors are trying to get eyeballs of all of us people, the time to get those eyes is at launch time. With so much blog reading to keep up with these days people are going to get more and more selective. Sure new people are coming in to this community all the time and they will stumble across stuff; however its the existing community you want to excite and if they love and talk about your content others will pick it up, including new people coming in.

It goes both ways though. We as readers also need to give feedback and comment to the vendor blogs. Engage with the authors, post comments, tell them what we want.

After all what we as specialist in the virtualisation space want is relevant and clear information that helps us understand the vendors products and their stance and position in the changing market. Those that get it right will get those valuable eyeballs they all seek.


P.S. Go on you can now hammer me in my own comments. Just remember I am not a vendor, and its called "Musings" for a reason. :)

Update : Opps, I just noticed that James Kahn a SE from Vizioncore Australia wrote an earlier article. The article met the mark, talked about the problem, how its changed and then linked to a best practice paper on the relevant Vizioncore product. Good one James. Disclaimer I have worked with James in his current role so again I am biased.

KB article : Installing ESX 4.0 and vCenter 4.0 best practices

Saturday, May 23, 2009 Category : 0

A few KB articles are coming out for vSphere close to the launch.

Check out this helpful run through before your install, especially for those who never check the manuals or release notes.

Installing ESX 4.0 and vCenter 4.0 best practices


Federated networking for the Cloud

Thursday, May 07, 2009 Category : , , 1

We see in the VMware Cloud space lots of discussion around the federated cloud. In this context we are referring to the federation of the VMware management layers to orchestrate interaction between a companies on-premise internal cloud with a cloud provider.

What if we take this federation to the next step and federate the networking, here is what I mean and why I think this next evolution is important.

If an organisation wants to extend their Data Center into the cloud the networking capabilities should not play a second cousin to the virtual machine capabilities that are delivered from the cloud. If I can operate my virtual machine in all its glory via the the same interface irrespective of location, I should be able to do this will my networking. If I want to apply an ACL, create VLANs, monitor ports or use RMON to troubleshoot a network issue within my internal cloud we should be able to do this within the external cloud.

Not all implementations are going to to require such rich features. Yet if the cloud is to be relevant to each and every organisation, which it should be then it is elements such as these which will allow the majority adoption. I think the key here is security, many of these features are security requirements and will help to address some of the cloud security issues.

How could this happen? Take some of the emerging technologies in the networking space, vSphere vNetwork Distributed Switches, Cisco Unified Compute System and the Nexus range including the N1000V. The N1000V brings the rich networking features of the Nexus Data Center fabric right up to the virtual machine layer and interfaces. If you have experimented with the N1KV as I have you will know that it is executed as a virtual machine and can communicate back to your physical Nexus equipment. So lets take this architecture one step further. What if the external cloud ran a N1K virtual switch instance which created a vNetwork Distributed Switch simply for me as a customer on that cloud, in my own realm/domain that federated and communicated back into my own Data Center networking fabric. Now just as for my Virtual Machine management I have location transparency for networking configuration and management between my internal and external clouds. My network staff can provision network ports with appropriate with rich settings just as if they were doing it internally. A key benefit here is the increased demarcation and functions in the security area.

Its early days on my thoughts on this but I hope you get the idea of the concept and why this really should be on the roadmap for the vendors. So how about it Cisco and VMware, can we have a date? When can we have federated networking for the cloud?

As a side note, notice how this architecture is only possible because the switching is executed as a virtual machine and not as a physical piece of hardware. When we state that the new atomic unit of the data center is the virtual machine you can see just how fundamental this is to the data centers of the future and how true it is coming to be, maybe faster than many of us thought.


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