I D C A N A L Y S T C O N N E C T I O N. T h e C r i t i cal Role of I/O in Public Cloud S e r vi c e P r o vi d e r E n vi r o n m e n t s

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1 ($B) I D C A N A L Y S T C O N N E C T I O N Rick Villars Vice President, Information and Cloud T h e C r i t i cal Role of I/O in Public Cloud S e r vi c e P r o vi d e r E n vi r o n m e n t s August 2012 IDC research shows that public IT cloud services will grow at almost four times the rate of the IT market as a whole. Worldwide revenue from public IT cloud services will reach $72.9 billion in 2015, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 27.6%. (See Figure 1 for worldwide infrastructure spending for cloud service providers.) As this market continues to mature, cloud service providers will need to develop a very broad portfolio of services for their customers by managing the movement of data between diverse assets and by reconfiguring and reallocating shared or pooled resources very quickly. To achieve this goal, cloud service providers will need a strong, stable, and highly scalable I/O foundation, which includes migration to 10GbE. F I G U R E 1 W o r l d w i d e I T I n f r a s t r u c t u r e H a r d w a r e S p e n d i n g f o r P u b l i c a n d P r i v a t e C l o u d S e r v i c e P r o v i d e r s b y S e g m e n t, Private cloud Public cloud SP (manuf actured systems) Public cloud (self -built) Source: IDC, 2012 IDC 1361

2 The following questions were posed by Emulex to Rick Villars, vice president of IDC's Information and Cloud research, on behalf of Emulex customers. Q. CIOs around the world are being asked to develop a strategy for cloud. What's driving organizations to consider public cloud services? A. The discussion around public cloud implementation often involves cost savings and how it might be able to improve a company's capital expenditures and operating expenditures. But if the company has been proactive in looking at the private cloud, CIOs will tend to focus more on agility from a business perspective with a focus on launching new IT applications. Public cloud solutions represent a foundation for making that happen. Now, interestingly, when companies talk about private cloud, in many ways, they're trying to recreate that agility inside their organization, and that's where we get back to the cost issues. Then they have to deal with precommitting enough hardware and resources. When we talk to organizations about private cloud, another important theme that emerges is recognizing that we're dealing with a world of mobile devices and a market where consumers and business people increasingly are expecting access to rich content, video feeds, and digital images and records. So another critical role that the public cloud is playing is being the foundation for many of these new services. Companies focused on adding value for their customers through the use of mobile facilities or by delivering richer content are also looking at the cloud as a way to jump-start infrastructure investment. Q. Where are organizations using public cloud most aggressively today? A. When we look at public cloud adoption today, we see a lot of survey data from IT organizations that identifies what specific applications or workloads are finding the most traction. Often, that survey data focuses on things such as collaboration and backup. But today, money is being spent in several areas. For example, start-ups and small businesses simply don't want to build their own datacenters. Cloud service providers are building highly scalable virtualized server environments to support the diverse, dynamic application workloads associated with new businesses. Having a scalable and easy-to-manage I/O fabric is critical to meeting the service expectations of these customers. Another significant use of public cloud today is companies trying to deliver information to an increasingly diverse user base. On the consumer side, this means delivering music, movies, games, and software. In the enterprise market, there is the need to deliver more information from medical records, sensor data, video surveillance, and other sources. If your job is to collect and then deliver content and information to many different devices and individuals, whether employees or customers, the cloud environment is very adept at offering high availability and reliability. Another major use case that sometimes is overlooked is that cloud is very good for quick analysis of a lot of data. So we see a number of companies in financial services, life sciences, and retail that recognize that a combination of a large storage pool and computing resources in the cloud gives them a very agile tool for doing a lot of batch processing, rapid analysis, ongoing job reporting, and scheduling. Q. How are cloud service providers meeting growing customer demands, and how important is I/O capability in cloud datacenters? A. As we look at the cloud service provider community, we see that it is going through a very rapid evolution. Many providers start with basic services where they're trying to deliver the equivalent of a server. In essence, they're trying to provide a virtual machine (VM) instance, but they want to be able to do that at scale. As they start the next phase, customers might ask: What about backup? How do I get availability and reliability? So backup services are IDC

3 added. Then, at the next stage, customers want to add other services, such as more sophisticated applications, database services, archiving services, or data storage functions. As a result, the cloud service provider has to start building up a very broad and rapidly expanding portfolio of not just one but many different types of services for customers. That poses significant challenges because their architectures are typically based on a very standard siloed hardware foundation of servers, storage, and networking. To provide these different services, they need to manage the movement of data between the different assets and reconfigure and reallocate resources with agility and speed. The only way they can make that happen is by having a really strong, stable, and highly scalable I/O foundation. Q. How are changes and workload growth rates in public cloud datacenters affecting I/O network demands? A. As cloud service providers begin to address their customers' needs, they begin to recognize that they want to provide additional services. They want to add more traditional transactionoriented applications for commerce and product management that require the I/O performance associated with today's Fibre Channel based datacenter networks. They also want to support massive one-to-many information services, such as video streaming or surveillance, that can quickly consume all of the I/O capacity in the datacenter. In addition, they are all dealing with the new phenomenon of Big Data. Big Data has been a huge topic of discussion in the past year. Many companies have become more aware of the critical role that cloud service providers will play in their Big Data projects. Those providers need I/O systems that can handle the replication of data between different pools in a single datacenter and then increasingly across datacenters. All of these services are about leveraging technologies to get more information out of a set piece of data faster, and that is really at the core of what cloud service providers want to do. They will enable companies to very rapidly throw a lot of compute power at a large pool of data. Putting in the I/O infrastructures that allow them to provide those services is absolutely critical right now. How do they add this new analytic framework into their existing cloud environment? I/O is the foundation of making that happen because it facilitates real-time transactions between the datacenter and the cloud. There's clearly a need to link an analytic system to the transaction data system. But the other part of Big Data is the ongoing analysis and reanalysis of historical data, which involves constantly reassessing and reloading that information. This involves very rapidly moving data from a storage pool to a compute facility and from storage into memory. The I/O network that's in place to support this process must be optimized to avoid bottlenecks in performance. This requirement (especially with the addition of new Big Data applications such as Hadoop) is why cloud service providers need to be leaders in moving to 10GbE, low-latency I/O networks in their datacenters. Q. How will cloud service provider plans to deliver next-generation hybrid cloud services affect their I/O technology needs? A. The hybrid cloud is a very popular concept for many organizations. However, it can also be quite confusing to nail down. For many IT organizations, it simply means that they have some application services running in a public cloud and others in a private cloud in their own datacenter, fairly independent of each other. What they are really looking for is hybrid cloud management in areas such as access control, performance monitoring, and IT provisioning. Intelligent network environments can play a critical role in all of those areas. For a growing number of organizations, however, a hybrid cloud environment is about delivering different elements of an application using both public and private cloud IT assets. These functions can include capacity on demand, business continuity, or application 2012 IDC 3

4 mashups. We've talked to healthcare companies that use public clouds for transaction processing of medical bills but store patient data in a private cloud archive. To confuse things a bit more, some hybrid clouds include a public cloud element and a private cloud element that may reside in the same datacenter. IDC knows a number of service providers that deliver hosting/colocation services and public cloud services in the same datacenters. In all these cases, intelligent data movement is at the heart of making hybrid cloud work for service providers and their customers. They need to deploy advanced overlay networks that can deliver high bandwidth continuously and in short bursts between public cloud datacenters and customers' internal datacenters. The network is also at the heart of enabling scalable and highly dynamic levels of network segregation/security to support multitenancy requirements in both public and private domains. Q. What are the key I/O network technologies that will play a critical role in cloud datacenters? A. Many people focus on the move to 10GbE, but that is really about today's cloud datacenters. They are already aggressively deploying 10GbE at the core and looking to 40GbE and beyond. The real change is what's happening at the edges, such as the move to converged IT infrastructure. Cloud service providers are leading the way in deploying prebundled pools of server processors, storage pools, and I/O networks within highly virtualized environments. This approach improves system utilization, reduces operational burdens, and enables much more rapid capacity expansion. In the next year, we expect to see a critical new development: the addition of shared memory to these systems. With the availability of shared cache for rapid reloads of VM images, overlay networks for more dynamic use of VM mobility services, and the growing use of in-memory designs for databases, providers will be able to address a broader range of their customers' mission-critical workloads. The other key aspect is the desire of service providers to rapidly upgrade systems and applications without having to undertake complete I/O network upgrades. They want solutions that support a growing range of higher-level network protocols. Some will want to continue using Fibre Channel. Others need support for NFS and CIFS for rapid file movement. I/O networks also need to support new architectures and new standards such as REST interfaces and CDMI for high-speed Web services access. We can talk about I/O from a pure speed standpoint, but the network has to have the intelligence to be able to add QoS and do partitioning across different data sets. Technologies such as vnic/nic partitioning can add that intelligence and reconfigure and reallocate resources based on the requirements of individual applications. With the I/O network playing a critical role as the underlying foundation for intelligent, software-defined networks, cloud service providers need to pay particular attention to picking strong I/O connectivity when building a robust and scalable cloud service portfolio. A B O U T T H I S A N A L Y S T Richard Villars is a senior member of IDC's Information Infrastructure research team, which assesses the development and adoption of solutions for datacenter transformation and the exploitation of rapidly growing information assets. He develops IDC's viewpoints on the evolution of next-generation storage technologies and the adoption of public and private cloud solutions and advises clients on the impact of converged IT infrastructure, archival storage systems, Big Data applications, and rich content on organizations' storage and information management practices IDC

5 A B O U T T H I S P U B L I C A T I ON This publication was produced by IDC Go-to-Market Services. The opinion, analysis, and research results presented herein are drawn from more detailed research and analysis independently conducted and published by IDC, unless specific vendor sponsorship is noted. IDC Go-to-Market Services makes IDC content available in a wide range of formats for distribution by various companies. A license to distribute IDC content does not imply endorsement of or opinion about the licensee. C O P Y R I G H T A N D R E S T R I C T I O N S Any IDC information or reference to IDC that is to be used in advertising, press releases, or promotional materials requires prior written approval from IDC. For permission requests, contact the GMS information line at or Translation and/or localization of this document requires an additional license from IDC. For more information on IDC, visit For more information on IDC GMS, visit Global Headquarters: 5 Speen Street Framingham, MA USA P F IDC 5

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