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Cloud Immigrant vs. Cloud Native Applications

Lately I’ve been having discussion with customers around the topic of Cloud-Native Apps. It’s cool to talk about these new developments, but it also raises a lot of questions with my attendees and they want to know what my opinion / definition is about Cloud-Native.

Most of the times I refer to the analogy of Digital Natives vs. Digital Immigrant. This term was first coined by Marc Prensky with his article Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants in which he describes the failure of American educators to understand the needs of modern students. Or to look into a broader perspective, you have people (Digital Natives) that grow up with modern technology like computers, smartphones, tablets, etc. and people (Digital Immigrants) that have learned (or not) these new technologies later in life and have not grown up with them. It shows how different types of people consume the technology today and how they work with them.

And that’s where the analogy can be made to cloud native vs. cloud immigrant applications. Cloud in my opinion is a convergence of multiple technologies at the same time, that makes things possible that we’re not possible 5 – 10 years ago. But applications have been around since the start of the mainframe and boomed when we got the the client-server era. These applications nowadays reside on virtualized platforms. Platforms that are now converted to private clouds. Question however is if these applications make full use of the capabilities of a cloud environment. They were not designed with cloud in mind and are still very dependent of the capabilities that the infrastructure has to offer even if it’s all software-defined. They live in the cloud, but as they were not designed for it, they can be called “cloud immigrants”.

This of course is different from the applications that developers create today. If given the opportunity to design an application from the start, developers choose a resilient and scalable architecture and make use of architecture designs such as microservices. Everything is loosly coupled and can be replicated all over the cloud (or even clouds). This makes these applications “cloud native” and they make full use of all the benefits that a cloud architecture has to offer.

So both types of applications can run on a cloud platform, but both have different characteristics. Below a table showing the difference in some of the characteristics of “cloud immigrant” and “cloud native”.

There is no right or wrong when looking at the characteristics of the two different application structures. It just depends what the requirements are with regards to your applications. “Cloud immigrants” over the last decades have served us well. The majority of the applications today still are “cloud immigrants”. And for the years to come we’ll still need to support them and run them in our clouds. Migrating “cloud immigrants” to “cloud native” is not an easy task at hand and to give an example for that we just have to look into the past : we’re still running mainframe today, wasn’t that supposed to be migrated to the client-server model?

However “cloud native” is the way forward and IT departments need to prepare themselves to host these applications on top of their cloud infrastructures. Question then becomes : How do you run “cloud immigrants” and “cloud natives” jointly together?


The rise of the manager of managers

“One ring to rule them all…” The phrase from Lord of the Rings to define the one ring that can control everything including the other rings with magic power. Kind of a nerd intro, but it’s a good analogy to describe what is currently happening in the space of IT infrastructure automation.

A few years ago every vendor had it’s own little product portfolio in which they excelled and made most of their money. Microsoft has Windows / Office, Red Hat has Linux, VMware has virtualization, etc. But as cloud popped up the game changed and everybody started to move into the same space: management and control of the IT infrastructure.

With that move everybody needed (or is going) to expand their capabilities into terrain that was not their area of expertise. Every vendor is moving up or down the stack to get the most control over the IT infrastructure. It’s all about the control of the resources within the IT infrastructure and being the manager to control those resources.

So with each vendor creating their own “manager” for their part of the stack and making that manager capable of managing “other” stuff in the IT infrastructure creates the question : “What manager should control my IT infrastructure?”

And as with all evolution it’s not the strongest, nor the smartest that will rise and will surface on top. It is the one that can adapt to it’s environment. As the data center is not comprised out of multiple vendor product, it needs to be a product that can integrate with all of them; old and new ones.

VMware’s flagship in automation and orchestration is vRealize Automation (vRA). But the engine that really makes this manager adaptable is the synergy it has with vRealize Orchestrator (vRO).

vRO is the “glue” that makes it possible to connect all the data center components together and integrate them into vRA. vRA will then orchestrate whatever process (i.e. use case) that needs to be automated. vRA and vRO are the tools to link everything together.

This does not mean that vRA/vRO replaces the orchestration of other management tooling of other vendors. vRA/vRO just becomes the central entity to govern, orchestrate and automate everything within the data center. One central tool to make sure that all your policies are applied with the IT infrastructure. It uses the capabilities of all the other managers to orchestrate the workflow to create IT services. In other words it becomes the manager of managers.

Below you’ll find a picture of the integration of vRealize Automation with vRealize Orchestration and how integration takes place with all the other components within the data center.

In the end it all comes down to integration and connecting all IT infrastructure services within the data center. vRealize Automation is the tool to provide that functionality and make sure that you can build a software-defined data center that can run any application.


Project Photon and Lightwave, the start of a new VMware era

VMware Cloud-Native Apps released their first open-source projects with the announcement and release of project Lightwave and Photon. This is a new step in the path forward for VMware. VMware has always been closed source and supportive of other open-source projects, but this is the first time that VMware is taking the lead and released code through open-source for it’s own projects.

A new step and it suits the approach of making “developers first class citizens of the datacenter”. I’ve been working with VMware products for some years now and have seen this trend slowly building up. Their is a shift happening. No longer are applications the turf that only belongs to developers and nor is IT infrastructure the turf that only belongs to the IT operations guys. Call it evolution, call it “DevOps”, but more and more organisations see the benefit of making applications and IT operations work closely together to get the best out of both worlds : a platform that can run any applications; legacy or cloud-native.

In my opinion it is a good move for VMware to follow this trend and to transform itself from an IT infrastructure company into a company that acknowledges the needs of both the developers and the IT ops guys. VMware is one of the thought leaders in the space of virtualization and cloud computing and has experience of introducing complex software concepts into enterprise environments. Server virtualization was the start, with Software-Defined Data Center being the vision that build on the advantages that virtualization provides.

VMware Cloud-Native Apps is a new era. A new step forward in the continuing to support the application evolution into the cloud. And in my opinion its was only natural to choose the path of open-source. If you want to treat developers as “first class citizens”, you need to make them part of the VMware application development lifecycle.

This is that start of more things to come. I hope we’ll see more projects targeted at the next generation of applications with lost of community involvement and the opportunity to be part of something great. VMware ❤️ Developers!

For more information on project Photon & Lightwave got to http://vmware.github.io/


VMware support for CoreOS

As of today VMware provides support for CoreOS on both vSphere and vCloud Air. This again marks the effort of VMware to support  the containerized world.

CoreOS is one of the lightweight Linux OS distribtutions that is ideal for containers. It is a minimum footprint OS and is designed to run apps that can benefit from a distributed architecture.

It is this distribution architecture that makes it possible to run services at scale with high resilience.

Bringing CoreOS to vSphere and vCloud Air really creates the best of both world: running an OS tailored for Cloud-Native Apps on an infrastructure platform that is build to provide the best performance and resilience from an infrastructure percepective.

The CoreOS OVA has the open-vm-tools natively installed and can get the full benefits of all the VMware has to offer to the OS.

More on the announcement can be found at VMware and CoreOS.


Positioning Openstack within the VMware SDDC

Openstack is the leading open-source platform for deploying virtual machines in data centers. It allows IT infrastructure teams to deploy virtual machines and other IT infrastructure components. Either through the service portal or through the API that comes with Openstack.

The discussion that I have with most customers around Openstack if fact that they think the functionality of Openstack and VMware vRealize Automation (vRA) is the same.

In fact customers are right. We do offer the same functionality that Openstack has to offer, but vRA is much more than an Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) platform. To define the positioning I have plotted Openstack in the VMware SDDC solution offering below.

Openstack VMware SDDC

vRA (Cloud Automation) in its core is a self-service portal that can deploy virtual machines. It consumes the resources that are provided to it from the compute, network and storage layer in order to create virtual machines that can host applications. This is the same functionality that Openstack offers.

However vRA and the rest of the vRealize suite can do a lot more then provision infrastructure resources. Providing IaaS is just the first step of automation. The end goal is to provide full management capabilities to manage and monitor all the data center resources in order to provide virtual machines and application resources. Integration of all the IT management components is crucial for the creation of a Software Defined Data Center.

And that’s where the big difference is: Openstack in its essence is an IaaS tool, vRealize Automation is a automation & orchestration engine to create a SDDC (and also includes IaaS).

SDDC is not a VMware-only stack. SDDC is a term for the automation, orchestration and integration of all IT components in the data center. It needs to work with all the IT solutions you already have inside your data center. So it could well be that you have a VMware estate next to an Openstack estate, to service different workloads within your datacenter. Whatever flavour of Openstack is the choice of the customer. VMware vRA can connect via the Openstack APIs to manage the resources in the Openstack layer.

VMware also offers an Openstack flavour:  VMware Integrated Openstack (VIO). This is a distribution for those companies that want an enterprise-grade version of Openstack. A predefined installation of Openstack is supported and maintained by VMware.

So the conclusion is that Openstack can be one of the building blocks within the SDDC to host the application workloads in your datacenter. It fully integrates and the result is the best of both world.


API Coolness = Real Life Service Mashups

YouTube Preview Image
Just read about this and in my opinion pretty cool. Uber and Spotify will join forces and give you the option to listen to your favorite music on Spotify while taking your Uber cab to your next destination. How cool is that?

The question that raised my mind was : Is this a trend that will be the next cool thing to do in 2015?

Probably there are loads of examples out there, but this does seem to become the trend. The option to connect the service that makes your life more comfortable and let it connect to multiple other services that provide another type of service, but the two services combines create a better consumer experience.

True this has existed for years in the digitized world of software, but as our real life services get digitized more and more, the possibilities grow with it. Digitization and consumerization create a drive for innovation and the exploration for new ways to take consumer experience to the new level.

And with all software APIs are the way to connect services together. This ability to mashup real life services is really a level up in consumerization. Today it’s Uber and Spotify connecting. I wonder what the future will hold. One things for sure: in the end it will deliver a better experience for both me and you.


“All things are created twice” : Basics to IT Infrastructure Design

“All things are created twice” is one of the principles that immediately comes to mind when thinking of designing IT infrastructures. It’s the principle by Stephen Covey that says that we first create things in our mind, before we even produce anything in the physical world.

Think about that for a sec. We think first before we do something. It’s the process we do unconsciously all day. We do it every moment of the day, over and over again.

So the same goes for designing new IT infrastructures. First think about it, write that down into design documents and then build the IT infrastructure as defined in your design documents.

Compare it to building a house. Nobody goes out, buys bricks and mortar and then starts building something without a design. Same goes for building a new IT infrastructure or whatever it is that needs to be thought out before it is created. You don’t go out and randomly install software hoping it will result in the optimal IT infrastructure that suits your needs.

Or better yet the needs of your customer / company. Cause most of the times you don’t design according to what you think is best. You design the infrastructure to suit the needs and requirements of somebody else. Just like with building a house, you are the architect. Trying to figure out those needs and requirement of your customer. How big it must be? How many people are going to live in it? How should the plumbing / electricity be installed? And last but not least how much in the total amount of money that can be spend?

But we’re not building a house, we are building an IT infrastructure. The variables change, but the design methodology is the same. First think of what you want to create, then go out and build it.

And maybe this is in a nutshell what the VCDX program is all about. It’s not magical sorcery what the program is about. It’s about showing you can architect a IT infrastructure that suits the needs of your customer / company. As I always say: “There is no general perfect design, the perfect design is the design that meets the requirements of your customer while taking the constraints into account.”

Thats what is looked for in the VCDX program. People that can show that skill and be able to present and defend that to the rest if the world. Or in case of the program : the panel. So step up to the plate and show that you are an IT infrastructure designer. Good luck!

Click on the link for more information on the book by Steven Covey “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change”


vExpert 2014

I’m grateful to be awarded the vExpert award once again in 2014. The VMware vExpert program acknowledges the people within the community that have contributed into evangelizing virtualization as whole. Proud to be part of that group and in my new role as Solutions Consultant I will hopefully contribute more to the community than before.

For the complete list of vExperts 2014 see: https://blogs.vmware.com/vmtn/2014/04/vexpert-2014-announcement.html

If you think you are vExpert material then apply here: https://blogs.vmware.com/vmtn/2014/04/vexpert-2014-q2-applications-open.html


New features in VMware Horizon 6

VMware released Horizon 6. This is a new step forward in the world of end user computing. VMware enables companies to take the next step in enabling the end users to make use of IT services through a “one login, one experience, multiple devices” methodology. Truly enabling the end user in doing their business while using IT resources.

The post below gives you an overview of the key 6 features that are new in Horizon 6.

Cloud Pod Architecture

It will now be possible to enable View deployments across datacenters. There will be a new data layer replicated over all the View connection servers. This now makes it possible for any user to connect using a single namespace with a global URL. This new global entitlement layer will make sure that a seamless user experience takes place for the user and that the correct desktop entitlements are shown to the user regardless of what datacenter the resource is in.

The benefit of this is that View deployments can now to scaled across datacenters and that sessions can exceed above 10k instances. It will support Active / Active and DR use case scenarios for View desktops. And will be supporting geo-roaming users.

Hosted Apps with View

A new and long awaited feature in View 6 will be the integrated delivery of application and full desktops running on Microsoft windows Remote Desktop Services Hosts. It will provide seamless windows access to Windows Apps from Windows and Mac. Together with full screen access to Windows Apps for iOS and Android. Utilised through standard Horizon Clients with PCoIP.

This is a big step forwards for the Horizon Suite. It will now be possible to provide access to already existing apps hosted using RDSH. Investments that have already been made for this application delivery method can be utilized within the Horizion Suite. Providing full application integration for all end users.

VSAN integration

It will be possible to integrate VSAN with View as of View 5.3.1 and upwards together with vSphere 5.5 U1. You can scale your View clusters up to 32 nodes. This will reduce the initial investment as no additional SAN is needed to provide SAN resources to the View installation.

Also workload scales liner under heavy workload. For more information see: https://blogs.vmware.com/performance/2014/03/vdi-performance-benchmarking-vmware-virtual-san-5-5.html

Workspace 

Workspace will provide you with “one login, one experience, any device”. It doesn’t matter which device you use. Your experience will be the same. It will be possible to customise the branding of the workspace, integrate approval chains for app approval and to have a singular app catalog for all users to browse through.

A variety of apps will be supported : Virtual Desktops, Horizon Hosted Apps, Packaged ThinApps, Google Apps, Office 365 Apps, Citrix XenApp and SaaS Apps.

vCOPS for View (V4V)

vCOPS for View will be updated and will have vCOPS 6 support. It will have single integrated console for all vCOPS supported environments. There will be View 6 support with RDSH Session Support. It will have application and in guest process metrics for troubleshooting.

There will be desktop workload optimization in the new product. It can be used for capacity measurements and can be used to do modeling in “What If” scenarios. This gives the ability to predict what will happen to the environment if additional resources are required. Last but not least the scalability will be improved for V4V to 25k concurrent users per instance.

Mirage 

Mirage provides unified image management for virtual and physical desktops. It is a single tool for IT to manage desktop images. It gives you the ability to maintain and update the image without having to wipe the apps and data of the user using the desktop.

It will be integrated with VMware Horizon View. There will be support for 8.1. This is an interesting fact when looking at it from an upgrade perspective. It will now be possible to migrate with Mirage from Windows 7 to 8.1. And it will be possible to revert to a Windows 7 snapshot in case of a inadequate migration. This will result in minimized end-user downtime and will give you safety when upgrading to the new version. This makes it possible to migrate hundreds of devices per day.

For more information go to : http://www.vmware.com/go/horizon


Trust your ESXi hypervisor!

When it comes to security there is always the concerns about the security of the ESXi hypervisor. Its always the hypervisor that is nominated as the layer that can’t be trusted within the IT infrastructure. The whitepaper by Mike Foley  tries to give you more insight on how the VMware ESXi hypervisor from a security perspective and what things to look at when securing the hypervisor.

The topics covered in the white paper are:

  • Secure Virtual Machine Isolation in Virtualization
  • Network Isolation
  • Virtualized Storage
  • Secure Management
  • Platform Integrity Protection
  • VMware’s Secure Development Lifecycle

The document can be downloaded here.


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