Microsoft, HP and SalesForce Assess Key Cloud Computing Issues

April 24, 2012 Off By Hoofer
Grazed from The Viodi View.  Author: Alan Weissberger.

At the April 12, 2012 TiE Cloud meeting in Santa Clara, CA, three leading Cloud Service Providers presented their views as to where the cloud industry is now and where it’s going.  Microsoft, HP and Salesforce are each addressing a different segment of the cloud market with what they believe are compelling value propositions for their customers.

Some of the issues they addressed included: changing business models, cloud advantages, cloud bursting, defacto cloud standards (e.g. Amazon AWS API’s), cloud developer support programs, evolving operations needs for cloud deployments and the viability of telcos as cloud service providers…

This was the fifth event held by the TiE Cloud SIG.

Moderator:

Pradip Shankar, Vice-President, Ericsson Silicon Valley

Speakers:

  • Karun Bakshi, Emerging Business Team (EBT), Microsoft
  • Anshu Sharma, Vice President, Salesforce.com
  • Thomas Ryan, Vice President of Marketplace & Ecosystem,  Hewlett-Packard Company

TiE Backgrounder:

Naveen BishtChair, Programs and Board Member, TiE Silicon Valley kicked off the program with a quick overview of the organization.

TiE was started in 1992 by a group of Indus entreprenneurs based in Silicon Valley.  TiE-SV is the largest TiE chapter by membership. There are 300 TiE Charter members in Silicon Valley, which is the home of the hugely successful TiE Angels (funding start-ups looking for a $500K to $1M private investment).

Naveen noted that the TiECon annual conference was listed as one of the “Top 10 Conferences for Ideas and Entrepreneurship” by Worth magazine.  It will be held May 18-19th this year at the Santa Clara Convention Center. Over 4K attendees are expected.


Cloud Observations by Session Chair Pradip Shankar of Ericsson:

“Cloud” has become a key element of every companies IT strategy.  Yet end user needs from Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) are very diverse as are the CSPs offerings.

That diversity is exemplified by the three companies on the panel (as per the author’s understanding):

  • Microsoft’s Windows Azure is a Public Cloud offering Platform as a Service (PaaS) and elements of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS),
  • Salesforce as a leader in delivering Software as a Service (SaaS) and moving into Platform as a Service (PaaS), and …
  • HP’s Converged Cloud was said to cover Public, Private, & Hybrid Cloud for IaaS.  A new HP Public Cloud service will begin beta operation on May 10th.

Cloud M & A activity has been very active in the past year with ~ 20 cloud companies being acquired. Some of the biggest names were:

  • Savvis –>Century Link,
  • Terremark–>Verizon, and
  • Success Factors–>SAP.

The IT “old guard” is fundamentally aware of business model changes and disrupritons brought about by cloud computing.  But actually migrating their existing IT services to the cloud has proven to be quite difficult and challenging for many companies.

Pradip opined that it will be very interesting to watch the leading cloud companies over the next few years. (That includes the three companies represented on the panel, as well as Amazon, Rackspace, IBM, Fujitsu and others).

Panel Discussion:

1.  Karun Bakshi of Microsoft opened the discussion by listing a few Cloud attributes he said would reduce the cost of compute and storage resources for most IT end users:

  • Elastic compute fabric (expands or contracts based on user demand)
  • Metered charge (pay only for what you use)
  • Pooled resources (for better utilization of compute servers)

Business benefits of cloud include: agility of service deployment, on demand computing, self service, elastic and usage based pricing, remote management of resources.

Microsoft’s Guiding Principles for Cloud Computing:

  • Cloud can optimize most business processes.
  • There are a world of devices and services to chose from.
  • Services are always ON (once you establish a physical connection/path to the Cloud resident Data Center).
  • Build and deploy Cloud services on your own terms!
  • Consider both packaged and open solutions.  Both will be supported by Microsoft’s Windows Azure Cloud.

One of the most interesting initiatives mentioned at this TiE Cloud Leaders event was Microsoft’s Biz Spark program.  It’s intended for start up companies, less than three years old with <$1M in annual revenue.  Such start-ups “can get Windows Azure for free,” according to Karun.  More information at:  http://www.microsoft.com/bizspark/

2.  Anshu Sharma introduced the Salesforce.com Cloud Platform by saying that “social and mobile were the new thing.”   He implied that those technologies would be combined with Cloud Computing, but didn’t say how such a mashup might be constructed or what it might look like.

IDC predicts that 80% of new software applications will be deployed in the Cloud (that’s SaaS which Salesforce specializes in). “Cloud platforms allow you to build applications you didn’t think possible just six months ago,” Anshu said.

“Salesforce is a proven cloud application platform (SaaS). It is also the cloud platform of choice for developers (PaaS) as well as business experts and end users,” he said.

3. Thomas Ryan provided HP’s Cloud Services Overview.  According to Tom, the HP “Converged Cloud combines private, managed and public cloud environments in one IT infrastructure to deliver an experience built around a customer focused set of principles.”

Business is moving from a “pure expenditure-time model to an OPEX pay as you go model,” according to Mr. Ryan.  HP now delivers Private Cloud services but will inaugurate it’s Public Cloud service on May 10th.

The venerable company is betting on a Hybrid Cloud (mix of public and private) delivery model.  HP’s Hybrid Cloud will scale and grow commensurate with its user base.

Mr. Ryan questioned the much talked about notion of Cloud bursting (from a Private to a Public Cloud for overflow workloads).  He said it was fine for compute intensive operations, but was skeptical of where user data goes when bursting between public and private cloud environments.  “How do you dynamically transfer data (from a private to a public cloud provider),” he asked.  Is “sneaker-net” the answer (where one manually carries a disk of data from one provider to another)?

Editors Note:  As there are no Network to Network Interface (NNI) standards for Private to Public Clouds (AKA as Hybrid Cloud), any such “Cloud Bursting” will be realized by a set of bilateral agreements between two different Cloud network providers (unless the same provider is used for both public and private clouds) in this Hybrid Cloud arrangement.  Same is true for public- to -public and private- to – private clouds.  There are no NNI (or UNI) cloud networking standards period!

“HP’s Public Cloud Services will enable hybrid delivery of next generation web applications and produce a new era of IT economics,” he said. 

Opinion:  That’s a pretty bold statement, especially for a company that has no current public or hybrid cloud service offerings.

4.  What about Telcos as CSPs asked Mr. Shankar of Ericsson (the world’s largest telecom equipment maker)?

Mr. Ryan of HP said that Cloud is characterized by a dynamically changing environment and that telcos were very slow to change.  Tom did not differentiate between legacy carriers such as AT&T or Verizon vs competitive carriers such as Savvis/Century Link (the leader in the telco cloud space).

Mr. Bakshi of Microsoft opined that “telcos only control dumb pipes.”  He suggested they segment those pipes by using QoS techniques and charging more for premium services that are QoS based.  In particular, he said a unified billing system was needed to build a solid cloud application ecosystem.

5.  OpenStack vs CloudStack backgrounder:

According to Pradip, there is one major eco-system of products available for (IaaS) cloud deployments today – VMware’s ecosystem.  OpenStack – initiated by RackSpace – is an open source alternative. It has broad support with many players including HP.

Citrix had been one of the OpenStack supporters, but made a surprise announcement that they were submitting CloudStack which they had obtained from their acquisition of Cloud.com, to Apache Software Foundation as an alternate open source (IaaS) cloud management software. This is of significance as Cloud.com (hence CloudStack) is part of several successful major deployments such as on-line gamer Zynga. Citrix says Cloudstack will support Amazon’s APIs.


Q and A Summary:

This author did not stay for the Q and A session.  The following summary (edited for consistency and clarity) was graciously provided by panel moderator Pradip Shankar:

OpenStack was the first subject discussed. In light of the CloudStack announcement, Tom Ryan of HP was asked about their commitment to OpenStack.  Tom said HP was still very committed to OpenStack and would be continuing their efforts as planned. The availability of another open source effort provided more choice but did not change HP’s course.

A later audience question had to do with some of the Salesforce APIs versus Amazon’s (and other CSP APIs) as there is no standard or common set of APIs to access various cloud services from different providers.  It was clarified that these APIs were at different levels within the cloud architecture layers. OpenStack and CloudStack were at the IaaS level, whereas Windows Azure, Salesforce (both Heroku and Force.com) were at the PaaS level.

Another subject that the panel spent some time on was the evolution of IT Operations to DevOps and NoOps. Anshu and Karun spoke about the application lifecycle. They said that over time, cloud application stacks will become increasingly more capable.  Application developers will then be able to focus exclusively on their particular business needs and not worry about operational and deployment aspects of their cloud applications.

The telco cloud was brought up again by the audience. The panel believes that some of the unique advantages of telco providers – such as their network infrastructure and assets- could be effectively leveraged to provide differentiated cloud services.

Given Amazon’s prominence in the Public Cloud market (see below), the panel discussed their cloud relationships with Amazon. Specifically, how their company’s cloud applications ran on or interacted with Amazon Web Services (AWS) via standard APIs. As an example, one can utilize the PaaS stacks provided by Heroku or Azure, and have those make calls to the AWS S3 (Simple Storage Service) cloud service.

Editors Note: Amazon’s EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) is the leading Public Cloud for compute services.

An interesting question had to do with data migration. If an enterprise had existing applications that had significant amount of data associated with it, the cost and difficulty of migrating data has to be weighed against the benefits of a cloud model for that application. The large amounts of data that you typically hear about associated with many consumer cloud applications did not land there via automated migration to the cloud.

Author is puzzled:  Then how did the data get there?  Shipping disks by Fed Ex to the cloud resident storage servers?

Cost of cloud vs. in-house servers for small businesses was also discussed by the panel. Even if there aren’t dedicated IT staff, one or more employees of the small business are likely handling “IT tasks” and should be factored into any comparison.

The panelists also addressed user concerns about meeting data security and data placement requirements in a cloud service delivery model. Major cloud vendors are very cognizant of those security and data integrity requirements and are typically compliant with the various data security standards.

Editors Note:  Cloud security has been and still is users biggest concern when migrating applications, software development and data to the cloud.  In some countries and industries there are laws that prohibit autonomous movement of sensitive data to another country.