On Thursday, Amazon Web Services (AWS) announced it had become the first cloud vendor to obtain provisional authorization from the Department information Systems Agency (DISA) to handle DISA data requiring levels 3-5 security clearance under the DISA Cloud Security Model (DISA CSM). Because AWS had already achieved authorization to manage data for levels 1-2 security clearance as of March, Thursday’s announcement means that AWS can now handle all unclassified data given that level 6 security clearance applies to classified data. The DISA CSM imposes even more restrictions on cloud-based data than the FedRAMP certification program. Department of Defense Agencies can now leverage the capabilities of the AWS GovCloud more quickly given the expanded scope of its authorization to handle a greater range of unclassified data. As the very first cloud vendor to obtain DISA clearance for levels 1-5 of unclassified data, AWS stands poised to strengthen its market share advantage in the battle for government-based cloud services given its receipt of a hotly contested contract for $600M and leadership with respect to obtaining FedRAMP certification.
Posts Tagged With: Iaas
Amazon Web Services Expands Authority For GovCloud To Handle Unclassified Department of Defense Data
Rackspace recently announced details of a managed cloud service plan that gives customers the opportunity to take advantage of managed services for their cloud deployments. The managed cloud service plan comes in two forms: (1) managed infrastructure, which provides advisory services regarding infrastructure set-up and architecture; and (2) managed operations, which enables Rackspace engineers to access customer servers to tweak code as necessary. The managed infrastructure and operations offerings represent Rackspace’s attempt to differentiate itself from competitors such as Amazon Web Services and Windows Azure, both of which demand greater responsibility on the part of developers and IT staff to provision, configure, deploy and manage Infrastructure as a Service environments. The introduction of the managed cloud service pivots on Rackspace’s famed “fanatical support” by building on the company’s strengths as a leader in consultative support for IaaS deployment and management. Rackspace President Taylor Rhodes summarized the new managed cloud offerings as follows:
Our basic level, called Managed Infrastructure, offers Fanatical Support with much more managed service than do the more-expensive, premium service levels offered by many of our competitors. Our higher service level, called Managed Operations, provides even more managed services, up the stack into the support of application level — addressing customer needs that most of our rivals won’t even touch.
Components of the managed infrastructure offering include architectural advice, support for workload migration and scaling, launch assistance and round the clock availability of cloud engineers to troubleshoot and resolve issues. Managed operations additionally delivers support for operating systems, web servers, database servers, cloud databases, cloud backup and monitoring and user provisioning and permissions. Rackspace’s managed infrastructure offering is priced at $.005/GB, assuming a $50 minimum per month while managed operations is priced at $.02/GB, with a $500 monthly minimum. In addition to its managed cloud service, Rackspace announced details of an expanded program for developers and more transparent pricing. Altogether, Rackspace’s new managed cloud offering is likely to give it some short term publicity and inject new life into its ailing IaaS positioning, but the San Antonio-based company will need a deeper transformation if it intends to seriously compete with the big players in the IaaS space, particularly given that competitors such as Amazon Web Services already partner with other vendors to offer managed services comparable to those revealed by Rackspace last Tuesday.
On Tuesday, Virtustream announced the release of xStream 3.0, the cloud management platform that allows cloud service providers to create public clouds and enterprises to create private clouds. Based on Virtustream’s proprietary µVM™ technology, the xStream platform empowers customers to create secure, IaaS environments for mission-critical applications that can tolerate little or no system downtime. Virtustream’s xStream technology is engineered to minimize costs associated with migrating applications to the cloud and streamline the day to day management of the subsequent cloud deployment. Available as both software and an appliance, the xStream platform has evolved in its latest release to target government, cloud service provider and enterprise customers with stringent demands for availability and compliance. xStream 3.0 features enhanced enterprise risk management (ERM) functionality that allows customers to implement ERM solutions not only for an organization’s IT infrastructure, but also for the organization as a whole. In addition, xStream 3.0 delivers support for OpenStack, enhanced data protection functionality, application performance management monitoring tools and predictive analytics that optimize infrastructure management. With this release, Virtustream announces itself as a major player in the market for production-grade cloud deployments that require rich and nuanced ERM and data security functionality. As ERM implementation proliferates in verticals outside of financial services and the government sector, expect cloud technologies such as xStream to enjoy increasing adoption as a result of its suite of tools for compliance, data protection, application monitoring and infrastructure optimization. xStream’s support of both OpenStack and VMware represents yet another feather in its cap whose importance will reveal itself as OpenStack technology continues to assert its imprint on the IaaS space in conjunction with OpenStack’s maturation.
The screenshot below of the xStream management console illustrates the platform’s ability to track resource consumption, storage and costs:
On Monday, IBM opened a new SoftLayer datacenter in Hong Kong as part of a $1.2 billion investment to strengthen its cloud services in Asia and all over the world. The Hong datacenter represents the first of 15 datacenters that IBM plans to open worldwide this year, bringing its total fleet of centers to 40 by the end of the year. Separate from the Hong Kong datacenter, IBM currently has 13 SoftLayer data centers and 12 from IBM. The Hong Kong data center has capacity for over 15,000 servers and complements IBM’s presence in Asia by way of the Singapore datacenter and “network points of presence” in Hong Kong, Singapore and Tokyo. Moreover, it positions SoftLayer to serve the entrepreneurial community’s cloud services needs in Hong Kong. IBM intends to deploy data centers in all major geographic regions and financial centers worldwide, including plans to extend its cloud services presence to Africa and the Middle East in 2015.
ActiveState Stackato 3.2 Delivers An Enterprise Hardened PaaS With Enhanced Security And Ease Of Management
This week, polyglot private PaaS vendor ActiveState announced the release of ActiveState Stackato 3.2, which features an array of enhancements that collectively focus on improving the security, scalability and ease of management of the platform. Version 3.2 delivers single sign-on functionality to ensure that access to the application complies with the identity management protocols of customers. In addition, this release upgrades the granularity of application-related permissions in order to give system administrators expanded control over who has access to specific components of the Stackato PaaS in conjunction with the ability to tweak their rights and permissions. Version 3.2 also offers placement zones and availability zones that allow customers to deploy their applications across multiple data centers or specific spheres of hardware in order to ensure the availability of applications in the event of infrastructure failover specific to one data center or set of infrastructure. Moreover, Stackato 3.2 supports application auto-scaling to maximize application availability during peak usage periods while concurrently scaling down the application during periods of diminished usage. Stackato’s auto-scaling functionality extends to Stackato on CloudStack or the Citrix CloudPlatform. Version 3.2 also features enhancements to Stackato’s management console in the form of additional dashboards that provide administrators with visual representations of the status of usage across placement and availability zones as well as memory availability and allocations across a cluster.
Stackato version 3.2 goes a long way toward rendering the Stackato platform fit for production usage amongst enterprise customers that demand granular permissions, single sign-on functionality, auto-scaling and the ability to deploy applications in multiple placement and availability zones. As such, the release constitutes yet another example of an enterprise-grade PaaS at a historical moment when PaaS technologies have been overshadowed by price wars in the IaaS space and industry innovations specific to Big Data analytics and management. Stackato, recall, is built on technology from the Cloud Foundry initiative and supports development languages such as, but not limited to, Java, Perl, Python, PHP, Ruby, Node.js, Erlang, Scala, Clojure and Mono. This week’s release illustrates the depth of innovation originating from one of the industry’s key PaaS players at a time when IaaS continues to overshadow PaaS despite the uniqueness of PaaS technology and its clear differentiation from IaaS.
Given The General Availability Of Google Compute Engine, Is Amazon Web Services Destined To Meet Its Match?
On Monday, Google announced the general availability of Google Compute Engine, the Infrastructure as a Service public cloud platform that Google first announced in June 2012. Unlike many of Google’s product offerings, which are not targeted toward enterprise customers, Google Compute Engine comes with 24/7 customer support and a 99.95% SLA. Moreover, the platform boasts encryption of data at rest in an effort to respond to customer concerns about data security, particularly given Google’s vaunted reputation for mining every piece of data touched by its hardware and range of software applications. Monday’s general availability release features a 10% price reduction on standard, server instances and a 60% price reduction in storage pricing per gigabyte for its persistent disk service.
At the level of functionality, the GA release of Google Compute Engine claims the following three notable features:
Expanded Support for Operating Systems
Whereas Google Compute Engine supported the Linux distributions Debian and Centos in preview mode, the GA version supports a range of Linux distributions including SELinux, CoreOS, SUSE and Red Hat Enterprise Linux (limited preview). This release also features support for Docker containers that enable users to spin up containers instead of virtual machines to accelerate automated testing, continuous integration and deployment.
Transparent, automated maintenance and live migration
Google Compute Engine is now the beneficiary of ongoing, transparent maintenance routines and processes in order to ensure the effective functioning of the GCE infrastructure. Transparent maintenance operates by working on “only a small piece of the infrastructure in a given zone” such that “Google Compute Engine automatically moves your instances elsewhere in the zone, out of the way of the maintenance work” with the help of live migration technology. Customer instances continue to operate as usual while maintenance is performed.
Three New 16 Core Instances
In order to serve the needs of customers that require greater computational power, Google Compute Engine now boasts three 16 core instances for the standard, high memory and high CPU instance types. Use cases for the computing power delivered by these instances include advanced simulations and NoSQL platforms that require high degrees of scalability and performance.
Gartner analyst Lydia Leong reflected on a comparison between GCE and Amazon Web Services in a blog post and concluded:
GCE still lags AWS tremendously in terms of breadth and depth of feature set, of course, but it also has aspects that are immediately more attractive for some workloads. However, it’s now at the point where it’s a viable alternative to AWS for organizations who are looking to do cloud-native applications, whether they’re start-ups or long-established companies. I think the GA of GCE is a demarcation of market eras — we’re now moving into a second phase of this market, and things only get more interesting from here onwards.
Leong sees the general availability of Google Compute Engine as the “second phase” of the IaaS market, whereby Google and AWS stand poised to out-innovate each other and subsequently push each other to new technological heights. The challenge for Google, however, as Leong rightly suggests elsewhere in her blog post, is that it will need to earn the trust of enterprise customers. The industry will not expect Google to deliver the “fanatical support” which became the hallmark and differentiator of Rackspace, for example, but it will expect degrees of white glove support and professional services that are not familiar parts of the Google apparatus, just yet.
Moreover, as part of the project of gaining the support of the enterprise, Google will need to deliver more explicit guarantees of the safety of data hosted within its IaaS platform from the prying eyes of its repertoire of tools for analyzing structured and unstructured data stored in every conceivable format and structure. Finally, Google will ultimately need an outward facing CTO comparable to Amazon’s Werner Vogels that can evangelize the platform and sell customers on a roadmap that ultimately achieves feature parity, if not superiority, as compared to Amazon Web Services. Technology and innovation has never been Google’s problem. Capturing the confidence of the enterprise, however, has been a different story entirely for Google, although as Leong notes, Monday’s announcement may signal a fork in the road for the IaaS space and the Mountain View-based, search engine and technology behemoth. Current GCE customers include Snapchat, Evite and Wix.