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Clouds

I get press releases every week about some new (or old!) company and their so-called cloud solution. Some folks are clearly abusing the popularity of the “cloud” buzzword, and others are actually doing interesting things with distributed computing, infrastructure- and platform-as-a-service, orchestration, and related technologies. Amazon is the prime mover on IaaS, but OpenStack, CloudStack and Eucalyptus are all making strong plays in that space. VMware’s Cloud Foundry and Red Hat’s OpenShift are pushing open source PaaS, while services like Heroku, Engine Yard and dotCloud (among others) are pushing to be your hosted PaaS solution.

It’s not surprising that so many people are looking to differentiate their cloud solutions, and on the balance I think competition is a good thing that eventually benefits end-users. But as things stand today, it strikes me as exceedingly hard to formulate a comprehensive “cloud strategy” given the plethora of options.

If you care strongly about open source, that helps limit your options. VMware’s Cloud Foundry has been open source for quite some time, and recently celebrated its first birthday. Red Hat’s OpenShift is not yet open source, but work is underway to remedy that. Red Hat, obviously, has a long history of successfully open sourcing their work. Red Hat also recently announced that they would be a platinum member of the newly reorganized OpenStack governing board. VMware, on the other hand, is not a company with which I readily associate open source culture or success; and I don’t see a very robust ecosystem coalescing around Cloud Foundry. Hopefully that situation improves.

And there’s also Canonical, the folks behind the Ubuntu Linux distribution. Canonical has made a real effort to advocate for OpenStack, but their actual contributions to OpenStack don’t seem to tell the same story. Rather than focus on directly contributing to IaaS or PaaS offerings, Canonical is busy making helper products like Metal-as-a-Service and their newly announced “Any Web Service over Me” (with the righteous acronym AWESOME) which aims to provide an API abstraction layer to facilitate running workloads on Amazon’s cloud and on an OpenStack cloud.

The end result of all of this a lot of ambiguity for customers and companies looking to deploy cloud solutions. If you want a private cloud, it doesn’t seem to me that you can make a decision without first reaching a decision as to whether or not you will eventually need to use public cloud resources. If so, your choice of private cloud technology demonstrably hangs on the long-term viability of your intended public cloud target. If you think Amazon is where it’s at for public cloud, then it seems that Eucalyptus is what you build your private cloud on (unless you want to fiddle with even more technology and implement Canonical’s AWESOME). If you think Rackspace is where it’s at, then OpenStack is a more appealing choice for you. But what if you’re wrong about your choice of public cloud provider?

As such, I’m curious to learn what you — the reader — are currently doing. Have you made a technology decision? Did you go all in, or are you leaving room to shift to a different provider if need be? Did you go IaaS or PaaS? Are you a new company, or are you an established organization moving existing workloads to new platforms? Finally, I’m particularly interested to hear from folks in regulated industries — banking, health care, insurance, etc — where your decision as to where to run your applications may be predicated on legal issues.

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New submitter multimediavt writes "Ok, here's my problem. I have a lot of personal data! (And, no, it's not pr0n, warez, or anything the MPAA or RIAA would be concerned about.) I am realizing that I need to keep at least one spare drive the same size as my largest drive around in case of failure, or the need to reformat a drive due to corrupt file system issues. In my particular case I have a few external drives ranging in size from 200 GB to 2 TB (none with any more than 15 available), and the 2 TB drive is giving me fits at the moment so I need to move the data off and reformat the drive to see if it's just a file system issue or a component issue. I don't have 1.6 TB of free space anywhere and came to the above realization that an empty spare drive the size of my largest drive was needed. If I had a RAID I would have the same needs should a drive fail for some reason and the file system needed rebuilding. I am hitting a wall, and I am guessing that I am not the only one reaching this conclusion. This is my personal data and it is starting to become unbelievably unruly to deal with as far as data integrity and security are concerned. This problem is only going to get worse, and I'm sorry 'The Cloud' is not an acceptable nor practical solution. Tape for an individual as a backup mechanism is economically not feasible. Blu-ray Disc only holds 50 GB at best case and takes forever to backup any large amount of data, along with a great deal of human intervention in the process. So, as an individual with a large data collection and not a large budget, what do you see as options for now (other than keeping a spare blank drive around), and what do you see down the road that might help us deal with issues like this?"


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