Developer-centric Private Clouds Set to Take Off in 2012

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1 Private Clouds Set December 20, 2011 Issue Charlotte Dunlap Current Analysis Principal Analyst, Early on, the cloud got a reputation for being among the most hyped of all IT market trends, yet important middleware technology advancements and integrations have significantly increased interest and growth potential around the systems and services associated with private clouds. private cloud deployments will prove to be the biggest growth prospect within the cloud among application platform providers within the next 18 months. This potential is not hype, but inevitable. This is because enterprises are discovering that the most compelling way to support modern application development is by leveraging the benefits of the cloud: on-demand services with elasticity for scale, safely delivered through a secure, on-premise Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) deployment model (e.g., compute infrastructure of servers, storage, network and virtualization), and now integrated with middleware technology (e.g., runtime container and messaging). The next-generation of application platforms will leverage the private cloud to attain the highest application performance levels and scalability, along with the most efficient application management. Leading application platform providers have made progress, enabling their core technology with selfservice capabilities delivered via a single private cloud platform, making IaaS even more attractive by adding an application infrastructure layer on top of the compute infrastructure layer already in place. Now, the notion of self-service application development is gaining in popularity as application developers look to focus more of their attention on being able to build new applications quickly, rather than wrestling with the traditional procurement process when launching new development projects. In this paper, we will define a developer-centric private cloud and look at the strategies and progress of some of the leading application platform providers, including IBM, Oracle and VMware, in order to gauge the greatest near term opportunities in this market segment. Current Perspective Cloud computing deployments within enterprise settings are finally coming to fruition in the form of private clouds. Enterprises are realizing they can have the benefits of shared services around computation and storage with private networks without losing the performance, security and control risks that public clouds pose. Infrastructure vendors involved in this market include Intel, HP, Microsoft and Cisco, among others. The next step in the private cloud scenario is to build on top of the compute infrastructure a standardized methodology for deploying applications, therefore merging developer-centric and cloud-centric solutions. This is why application platform providers moved into the cloud computing game over the past couple years, with an emphasis on private cloud solutions in Application platform providers involved in private cloud services and/or systems include IBM, Oracle, VMware and Red Hat, among others. The emerging benefit to enterprise customers is the ability to leverage the virtualized infrastructure to accelerate application development through application platforms which are either integrated with or Europe +33 (0) Or visit our Web site: 1

2 enabled for private cloud systems and solutions. The strategy directly addresses enterprises need for lowering the cost of developing and deploying enterprise applications through enhanced software options or engineered systems (e.g., appliances) to eliminate the pain associated with complex configuration and need for ongoing expertise and management. Enterprises are discovering that moving application development and deployment to the private cloud means that operations teams can more easily use virtual images to provision development teams with VMs that include middleware tools such as an application server. This IT-on-demand scenario delivered through a private cloud allows development teams to order up necessary middleware technology, tools and frameworks as well as data and other IT services. Not only is the process more efficient for each of these teams, but it also insures improved compliance under a more structured format. Private Cloud Opportunities for Middleware Vendors Middleware vendors are enhancing their cloud-enabled application platforms with advanced technologies and integration with infrastructure technologies such as virtualization to help drive adoption of application infrastructure in the private cloud (see details under Table 2). Leading providers have made significant inroads on these efforts in the last several months, announcing next-generation application platforms that are being integrated with emerging technologies such as in-memory caching for more efficient data management, and deeper integration with private cloud software infrastructure or hardware systems to automate and ease application development and management. Leading middleware vendors IBM and Oracle have invested heavily in building out their private (physical) cloud appliances, systems which are attractive to large enterprises looking to bypass highly complex configuration of such systems in order to adopt private clouds quickly through all-in-one boxes that include hardware, software, storage, networking servers, and more recently, application platforms. For example, Oracle recently integrated its enhanced foundational middleware technology, Oracle WebLogic Server 12c, with its private cloud appliance, Exalogic Elastic Cloud, representing a single integrated platform that supports standards based development. IBM recently built out its private cloud appliance offering under its SmartCloud Foundation to include new entry-level private cloud offerings that will serve as an on-ramp to the cloud and encourage adoption of its private cloud offering. Application platform vendors VMware and others have invested in software versions of private cloud solutions. VMware is leveraging its core virtualization customer base to promote adoption of its vfabric cloud application platform which supports the private cloud when it is bundled on top of the vsphere infrastructure, and is enabled through vcloud Director (VCD). Helping this process along, the company recently provided deeper integration between vfabric and and vcenter Operations Management. Enterprise Benefits of Private Cloud The underlying theme among each of these vendor efforts and technology innovations is the delivery of self-service capabilities. It is important for vendors to demonstrate to enterprise customers how the cloud is replacing traditional methods of application development with more agile and efficient mechanisms that include improved data management. The prospect of moving IT activities to the private cloud is attractive for a number of reasons, namely for its simplified management and administration of traditional IT tasks. New cloud interfaces that support intuitive self-service capabilities, such as the ability to automate provisioning, best illustrate how the cloud modernizes and simplifies traditional application development by eliminating cumbersome procurement procedures. Private cloud services are evolving through sophisticated technology to include full lifecycle management, to simplify processes such as online ordering, pricing, provisioning, metering and chargeback. It will be particularly important over the next year for application platform providers to hone their market strategy and messaging to help enterprises grasp the benefits of moving from traditional on-premises methods of application development to private cloud IaaS and PaaS options, therefore receiving the full benefits of new cloud-enabled middleware solutions. Current Analysis research shows Europe +33 (0) Or visit our Web site: 2

3 that some IT professionals still view custom application development as being limited in its ability to access cloud services, including private cloud (see Table 1). Some customers believe that cloud service providers have not been able to fulfill their specific application development needs, likely because traditional middleware tools were not cloud-enabled through IaaS and PaaS integrations. We therefore see significant growth opportunity around cloud services supporting enterprises conducting custom application development in-house, once they realize that IaaS and PaaS currently under adopted allow them to access additional cloud services. Further, we still see a lot of education needed among enterprises, where 35% of those surveyed by Current Analysis believe their roles in the IT department will not change. It is up to vendors to insure this fear of change does not impact adoption and growth of private clouds. Table 1 (Note, those responsible for implementing cloud services within enterprises were surveyed.) Providing customers with best practices is a good start in vendors messaging for helping to lower the adoption barrier. Enterprises planning to implement private clouds should be encouraged to: Define their private/cloud strategy and reevaluate goals again in three to six months Consider partnering with vendors that are documenting real practical user implementations Rethink old methods of conducting an elaborate proof-of-concept, then launching a massive project Decide on which workloads to start with that feel comfortable within the operations team. Private clouds mean different things to different people especially among the various technology conglomerates looking to get into the private cloud market. At a basic level, developer-centric private clouds are essentially a virtualization infrastructure, the runtime container and messaging or application layer, the data approach or management, and application management. The underlying concept is for a data center admin to provide users with self-service capabilities through a user interface and standardized images in which to deliver those elements. Components of a developer-centric private cloud include: Virtualized infrastructure to deliver standardized images (of server, storage and network elements) Middleware/application platform--namely application server, messaging Data management or in-memory Load balancing Systems and software management including eventually unified management of hybrid computing. As part of the private cloud-enabled middleware discussion, it s important to note advanced technolo- Europe +33 (0) Or visit our Web site: 3

4 gies, including management and in-memory caching, which are emerging as critical components to the success of such cloud services, especially for those large enterprises looking for the highest levels of application platforms to support mission critical applications. These include applications such as those used by the financial industry and others that require high performance, distributed transactions, high availability, security, messaging and integration. In-memory computing typically includes distributed caching capabilities to support transactional capabilities in order to support significant workloads. Another technology important to the success of private cloud offerings by application platform providers is management software for provisioning and monitoring (not to mention capacity planning and chargeback), technology which will eventually provide customers with a complete view of all their resources, including on-premise data centers, and public and private cloud deployments. This type of centralized management can monitor activities, provision resources dynamically, and insure unified policy management for starters. Table 1 A Scorecard Illustrating Application Platform Providers Private Cloud Offerings and Strategies Vendor Current Capabilities/Future Opportunities Private Cloud Strategy Score (1-5 with 5 as he best) IBM Oracle VMware IBM has built on its earlier (2009) IaaS efforts, which started around dev and test services, and is developing a comprehensive private cloud offering which leverages key acquisitions such as Cast Iron, for hybrid cloud management technology. Its IT as a service offering now includes virtualization with automated resource balancing, automated deployment, and an integrated service management platform with automated IT service deployment, lifecycle management, metering and chargeback. IBM recently stepped up its private cloud efforts through IBM SmartCloud Foundation, which consists of four IaaS offerings (and one PaaS offering), aimed at helping spur private cloud adoption through quick and easy deployment. The portfolio includes its Base Virtualization and Management hardware/software system, SmartCloud Entry (previously IBM Starter Kit for Cloud), SmartCloud Provisioning (previously IBM Service Agility Accelerator for Cloud), and TSAM/ISDM/CloudBurst. Key differentiations of its IaaS offerings include sophisticated management and administration capabilities. Oracle s private cloud appliance, Exalogic Elastic Cloud, is part of its engineered systems integrated hardware/software solutions, which provide extreme performance for Java applications, Oracle applications and other enterprise application. It ultimately represents an enterprise s lowest cost option for deploying and operating Oracle s application platforms. Oracle continues to evolve its private cloud service, gradually integrating with its middleware technology including the recent integration with Oracle WebLogic Server 12c. Oracle looks to differentiate through advanced technology innovation, which insures high levels of performance, important to its core customer base. Enterprises look to Oracle for best of breed application platform technology to support its mission critical applications. VMware s software-based private cloud offering is built on its vsphere virtualization infrastructure, coupled with vcloud Director (VCD), which creates resource pools to provide the ability to group vsphere instances together on which to push application workloads. Many of its traditional virtualization customers are now licensing vfabric, VMware s cloud application platform, on top of vsphere, to take private clouds to the next level with a standardized application platform, despite the fact that VMware has not bundled vfabric and vsphere as a turnkey offering. Under its Cloud Foundry cloud vision, VMware differentiates from IBM and Oracle through its messaging around an open, portable, and lightweight approach to application development. VMware participates in a mega-appliance offering that includes its vfabric technology, called vblock Application Lifecycle Platform (ALP), sold through the VCE coalition, formed between Cisco, EMC and VMware Continued Europe +33 (0) Or visit our Web site: 4

5 Table 1 A Scorecard Illustrating Application Platform Providers Private Cloud Offerings and Strategies (Continued) Vendor Current Capabilities/Future Opportunities Private Cloud Strategy Score (1-5 with 5 as he best) Red Hat TIBCO Red Hat CloudForms creates and manages IaaS to provide for on-premises (private) cloud deployments. A key part of the service is comprehensive application lifecycle management, which leverages Red Hat s current content management and runtime compliance technology, to control and govern applications across physical, virtual and cloud computing resources. CloudForms, managing IaaS and hybrid/cloud deployments, benefi ts from the Red Hat JBoss Operations Network service which provides cloud-based provisioning and management for the development, testing and deployment of the application lifecycle. CloudForms complements Red Hat s PaaS service, OpenShift, which supports a number of frameworks, languages and clouds, providing broad development and deployment resources for open source developers and highlighting a major differentiation from leading middleware vendors of proprietary software. TIBCO s private cloud platform, TIBCO Silver Fabric, supports a single platform for its hybrid cloud offering. The revamped platform insures a smoother transition for moving customers existing onpremise application platform technology into an automated and virtual hybrid cloud model. TIBCO s hybrid cloud offering emphasizes self-service provisioning of software where application developers log into a self-service portal and provision an approved enterprise application infrastructure platform. The service is most likely to attract today s mid-sized startup, at least initially, which has minimal IT staff yet still needs the sophistication of best-of-breed middleware technology. One of the company s most popular platforms, BusinessWorks, is among the fi rst platforms supported under Silver Fabric, with support for the ActiveMatrix Service Grid platform close on its heels. 4 4 Recommended Actions Vendor Actions IBM should continue to leverage its advanced Tivoli management technology and get in front of competitors in 2012 with additional centralized management capabilities. The next step in private cloud offerings for all application platform providers is to take management technology to the next level to support broader cloud deployments including hybrid/cloud computing, through unified policy management. Oracle needs to explain not only the performance value gained by running WebLogic on top of its Exalogic (appliance) system, but also TCO advantages of its appliance approach, versus competitors software approach (such as VMware). The company needs to counter VMware s pricing advantage claims under its new per VM licensing structure, messaging which takes aim at traditional application platform vendors per CPU pricing model, indicating customers are being charged for capacity they aren t using. VMware needs to offer its private cloud solution, including vsphere, vcloud Director and vfabric as a turnkey solution. This will encourage the company s sales support to naturally promote the concept of adding the application infrastructure layer to enterprise customers virtualization infrastructure. While the two technologies, vsphere and vfabric, are typically sold to two different groups within an enterprise, but bundling the technologies would press the point that vfabric is a natural next step for customers to take in evolving their private cloud implementations and ease application development and deployment. Application platform providers should be looking for infrastructure vendors (i.e., network, storage, virtualization), which have committed to private cloud strategies, to partner with. One example would be Cisco which just launched CloudVerse, representing integrated components to help enterprises build out private clouds. These vendors have broad access to enterprise customers through infrastruc- Europe +33 (0) Or visit our Web site: 5

6 ture technology, but are lacking in middleware technology to include in their evolving private cloud strategy. User Actions Deciding how to cloud-enable the data center of medium to large enterprises is not easy, particularly when it comes to bringing together systems, network and storage groups. While this paper s best practices suggestion is a gradual approach to moving workloads to the private cloud, at the same time customers need to be having high level discussions around how they intend to remove the silos within a data center in order to receive the shared services benefits of cloud computing. At the same time, operations teams need to start addressing their end users changing attitudes around the consumerization of IT (stemming from products like iphone and ipad). Enterprise IT is increasingly aware that if they don t deliver on the needs of their development teams, these users can go to outside cloud resources such as Amazon to order up VMs, for example, to fulfill their needs easily, moves which risk non-compliance actions. While the potential around private clouds which are developer-centric are great, enterprises are still forced to interpret various vendors definition and visions of private clouds. This is because vendors becoming involved in private cloud offerings from infrastructure to application platform providers have an agenda which is to promote their cloud services in order to help push their traditional technology. Therefore, plenty of due diligence and research is required on the part of customers, who should also seek information from traditional partners during this process. Large enterprises are particularly attracted to the high end appliances offered by companies such as IBM and Oracle for their pre-configured format, making the difficult task of set-up and management run much easier. On the other hand, the argument for software-based application platforms that make up private clouds is agility and lower cost investments, which is promoted by vendors such as VMware and Red Hat. Enterprises conducting due diligence should include as part of their research an argument for adopting both appliance and software form factors. Europe +33 (0) Or visit our Web site: 6

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