All Posts in “Cloud Architecture”

Jets vs. TurboProps the Hybridity Approach

If you have spent any time with military pilots you have inevitably heard them debate turbo prop vs. jet engines. Sometimes to the point where you have to throw a beer at their heads. If you haven’t heard of this it can be funny the first 5 times but you can imagine it gets old.

But it got me thinking jets and props have specific use cases, jets are fast, very maneuverable but not very efficient, where as props allow for greater mass movement and are reliable. Or so the two sides say I am not an aeronautical engineer. Similarly IT organizations looking at private and public clouds are faced with a decision. Do they use what they know and has worked for them their on-premises datacenter and IT team (TurboProps) or do they leverage the capability of a hosted cloud provider (Jet engines).

Invariably during the conversation with the military aviators, I bring up the C-130 Hercules. It’s one of my favorite airframes since it has been in service for next to forever. But my favorite part of it is, growing up as a Navy brat I went to a lot of airshows. The Blue Angels were my favorite act and I have tons of memorabilia including signed posters. The Blue Angels fly around with a C-130 nicknamed Fat Albert. Fat Albert is for logistical support and carries show gear etc, but it also is part of the show. The coolest part if you ask me. What it does is it demonstrates a C-130 tactical short runway take off. Here is a pic.FatAlbertTakeoff

Notice something? Yeah the flames coming out of the aft of the plane those are jets that help provide lift. This is where things get interesting because that C-130 is pretty widely respected as a beast and it uses both props and jets when the use case requires it.

I know I am a sonofbitch for what I just did but the light hopefully clicks this is where a hybrid cloud approach makes sense. If not my thinly veiled story of military aviation was at least entertaining.

The industry understands it, Amazon has made announcements around their hybrid cloud strategy, VMware has been talking hybrid cloud for years, and EMC has the Enterprise Hybrid Cloud (EHC) offering that I as an EMC vSpecialist talk about so much that I have to change the slide deck weekly to keep it interesting for the non-technical people in the room who have heard it a million times.

Garner has been talking about Bi-modal IT lately the point of their buzz word is less about the IT transformation which, if you are in Simon Wardley’s camp is more of a tri-modal approach, and more about the CIO\CTO level realization that traditional internal IT approaches are failing the business needs. It’s evolve or die time and if the industry doesn’t start rocking towards a bi or tri modal approach than they will be left for the carrion.

I don’t believe in scare tactics I swear I don’t, I think fear can be a motivator but it’s not for me to make someone scared of situation or impending event. Instead though I see this as an opportunity to embrace the change. I think the time to do so is running out. We are closer today to the end of silo’d traditional IT stacks than we are to it’s beginning. Scaling approaches and abstraction technologies are already evolving beyond where we were. This is a cyclical event like all things in IT, but this time the distributed to converged model is going to be done in the cloud. Hybridity is the first step to public hosted acceptance. Once we get there workloads won’t be coming back, once the cost models are fully fleshed out and applications are Platform 3 micro-services and not platform 2. This is going to happen, it’s happening now. The argument of we are not Netflix isn’t going to fly when you need Netflix like flexibility and agility to meet business needs. You may not need to run Chaos Monkey but you can not rest on your laurels and expect to be ahead in 6 months to a year.

The business you are in won’t matter either, the argument of we have workloads that will never go to the cloud is only true until they do move to the cloud. We used to say we weren’t moving apps to x86 or to virtual platforms until we did. Accept and embrace the change, change is life, stagnant water kills you with bacteria, flowing water is more potable.

Whether you are ready to rock a jet or are in a sports class Cessna and eyeing the gulfstream, look at Hybrid Cloud as a viable path to get that next airframe certification.

Just as a fun side note I did a little bit of digging and found that the Navy’s first jet was also a hybrid with a prop on the front. Here is the really cool history.

PaaS is BadaaS

Admittedly it has been a long time since I have written code as part of my job. I have written scripts and worked on projects but not really true code writing to build an application. Now everyone seems to be doing just that, my 9 yr old daughter is interested in writing her first app for her iPod Touch, my 13 yr old nephew has taken coding classes and gone to coding summer camp.

I am however a big consumer of apps, whether it is the Movember app during the month of prostate awareness in November, or twitter or any of the countless others that I have installed across devices. The saying “software is eating the world” appears to be true. I am constantly looking for ways to interact with customer service and sales people less and less and report issues or buy things through apps.

The types of applications have changed too, I am not talking about the Exchange and SharePoint monoliths that require months of planning and deployment time and consulting hours. I am talking about the mobile applications and the homegrown in house finance and collaboration systems that are popping up through out corporations and agencies. These applications are written in Java, Python or Ruby and are developed using agile methodology. They are deployed iteratively and constantly updated to ensure they are meeting their users needs and requests. This is the age of software, and perhaps it really is eating the world.

Enter PaaS

That’s where PaaS comes in, let’s imagine a world where corporate Git repositories are leveraged to collaborate on application builds. The code is then stored in the repository, the agency has infrastructure in multiple datacenters and have already tackled the job of creating a service catalog for the traditional platform 2 applications (Exchange, Windows, SharePoint). In this world there would be a PaaS instance deployed in each of their datacenters, as well as into a public cloud offering like vCloud Air\vCGS or even AWS. Now let’s say that our Developers have access to that PaaS and a browser (crazy talk I know).

Leveraging a Cloud Foundry deployment they could perform CF Push commands from the CLI or via the browser GUI call the Git Repository and deploy their application to any of the sites available to them or all the sites at once. Each dev team could have their own agnostic CF environments to deploy their application into and unlike OpenShift from RedHat these teams won’t be able to see or sniff the traffic running in other dev instances.

These applications can be pushed across sites and scaled up in seconds, 100’s of instances near instantly deploying all from code. The PaaS examines the code determines the infrastructure requirements and if they have the appropriate pieces be it a linux VM or an in memory database service and builds the required pieces as it deploys the application.

I know what you are going to say so let me beat you to it, “But Docker can containerize the application and allow me to deploy it to blank infrastructure as well”. The answer there is both yes and no, because Docker can enable application decoupling from the infrastructure and container based apps can be deployed more nimbly, however Docker requires a pretty sturdy infrastructure to stand on and still relies on a third party configuration and automation layer; think Puppet, Chef or Ansible. Docker is a cool technology but it fails to meet the same ease of deployment that Cloud Foundry has.

Don’t believe me? Check out this video demo:

Ok I get that it’s a marketing video but you see the potential it’s a matter of pushing out application code and being able to do it across instances and change pointers without downtime. Meaning you can have continual releases of the application. All Cloud Foundry cares about is Apps, DNS names, and number of instances, you don’t have to worry about whether the instance is starting because once you push you are told when the app is deployed. No more checking on your AWS instance to see if each service started.

To me PaaS really is the future and it’s cool as hell.

Try it yourself at

The view from the cloud

I am at 30,000 ft going about 200 miles per hour and I look out my window and sIMG_0998ee this.

Many of you have seen clouds before from both above and below, but have you thought about those opposing views when it comes to the IT version of the cloud?

From the ground a solid cloud cover can look flat with few ripples and honestly looks a lot like a blanket be it white, grey or black but it can block out the sun and bring trouble. From above the cloud deck the clouds look different even storm clouds seem thin and light like wispy mountains of marshmallow fluff. Ok maybe there is some poetic license taken there but you get the drift. From above the clouds have peaks and wisps. The gaps between the clouds are more visible because the contrasting color of the ground, sometimes the ground isn’t even visible at all.  When traveling through the clouds on the way to cruising altitude there is typically turbulence as you hit the air pockets and temperature differences that help clouds form in the first place.