Zenoss recently announced an updated VMware ZenPack that enhances the ability of customers to monitor VMware managed objects. The VMware ZenPack is one of several of Zenoss’s products that allow IT administrators to monitor and manage on premise, virtual and cloud-based infrastructures by enabling visibility into application performance across a variety of virtualization platforms and ecosystems. The updated VMware ZenPack gives users the ability to monitor the ESX server, vSphere as well as compute, storage and networking resources from a unified management console that additionally boasts enhanced scalability in comparison with previous versions. Other Zenoss ZenPacks enable analogous monitoring of deployments on Amazon Web Services, VMware vCloud and OpenStack. The combination of Zenoss’s ZenPacks enable multi-cloud monitoring and management, particularly in the case of hybrid cloud environments where the unified infrastructure draws upon more than one deployment platform or vendor. The larger value proposition here is the ability to effectively monitor heterogeneous cloud platforms and to identify performance and root cause issues before they escalate. More than 35,000 organizations use Zenoss to monitor their IT operations and computing infrastructures.
A recent survey by Zenoss indicates that converged infrastructures are gradually proliferating as the cloud-driven transformation of enterprise IT continues. Converged infrastructure refers to the pooling of hardware and software resources into an integrated unit in order to deliver optimal IT solutions to organizations. Converged infrastructures typically feature servers, networking infrastructures and IT automation solutions. Facebook, for example, leverages converged infrastructure solutions to enable one technician to manage more than 20,000 servers. IT organizations use converged infrastructures in order to simplify operational management, increase economies of scale and reduce costs as indicated by the following data points:
•30% of survey organizations claim to have operationalized a converged infrastructure solution
•51% of organizations are “considering” converged infrastructure solutions
•VMware, IaaS and Big Data projects have been the principal drivers of converged infrastructure adoption to date
•Technology companies lead converged infrastructure adoption by representing 28% of all adopters as compared to other industry verticals
•Enhanced automation, expedited delivery and increased agility represented the top 3 reasons that organizations chose a converged infrastructure solution
The survey was based on responses provided by 350 IT professionals. The infographic below provides more details of the survey results:
In June 2012, Google introduced its IaaS offering, Google Compute Engine (GCE). GCE allows users to deploy Linux Virtual Machines on the same infrastructure that powers Google’s world-class data centers and IT infrastructure. GCE complements Google’s related cloud offerings such as Google App Engine, Google Cloud Storage, and Google BigQuery and represents a significant competitive play to grab market share from Amazon Web Services (AWS), the undisputed market leader in the IaaS space. GCE’s value proposition rests upon Google’s reputation for scalability, performance, ability to compete in price and the allure that Google’s global technical infrastructure may prove itself virtually immune to the service disruptions that have affected both Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure over the last year.
Upon its launch in June, GCE offered users instances in four sizes constituted by 1,2,4 and 8 virtual cores with 3.75GB of memory per virtual core. Since then, GCE has added a constellation of additional instance options that include high memory and high CPU instances in addition to a diskless option for users that do not need dedicated disk storage attacked to their server. Pricing is competitive with AWS: the AWS medium Linux instance featuring 3.75GB costs $.130/hour in comparison to GCE’s $.138/hour. Similarly, AWS’s extra large, 15 GB instance runs at $.520/hour in comparison to GCE’s $.552/hour.
Cloud Computing Today spoke with Floyd Strimling, Technical Evangelist and the Senior Director of Marketing & Community at Zenoss, about the positioning of Google and its Google Compute Engine IaaS platform in relation to AWS:
Cloud Computing Today:
Which vendor poses the biggest threat to the market share leadership had by Amazon Web Services?
The reality is Amazon’s biggest threat comes from themselves as they must keep innovating while improving performance, availability, and reliability. Surprisingly, Microsoft has both the technical implementation and pricing structure to threaten Amazon. However, they have a perception problem that could be the subject of another article. Finally, Google has all the pieces to compete but must answer questions about their privacy, customer support, and long term commitment to the enterprise.
One last thought, Rackspace is really the wild card as they have all their bases covered. The main threat for Rackspace is the maturity of OpenStack and the effort it will take to get their cloud offerings to match Amazon’s solutions. Given how fast Amazon is innovating, this is not an easy feat.
Cloud Computing Today:
What advantages does Google have over other vendors, or even over Amazon Web Services?
Google is simply an overwhelming powerhouse that has great admiration and respect within the industry. They own/lease their own fiber connections, are building out Google Fiber in Kansas City, have the dominant search engine and mobile platform, are threatening Microsoft/OpenOffice with Google Docs, and maintain everything from file sharing to email and everything in between. Yet their greatest strength may lie within their ability to monetize their services via advertising.
Cloud Computing Today:
What are the most significant challenges Google faces as it gears up to pose a competitive, IaaS challenge to Amazon Web Services?
Privacy – Google must prove to the Enterprise that they will safe guard and not abuse the information they are collecting.
Customer Support – Google must understand that customer support is the key to Enterprise market. Customer support is more than simply posting questions on a forum and waiting for answers. If I was Google, I’d take a trip out to San Antonio and learn from the best, Rackspace.
Long-Term Commitment – Google has a history of endless betas and, now, shutting down services. They must prove to the Enterprise that they are in this for the long haul and will work with their customers to refine any and all solutions.
Market Mobility Within The IaaS Space Remains Significant
Although Amazon Web Services has clearly differentiated itself from the pack of IaaS vendors by way of its pricing and breathtaking track record of innovation, its rate of innovation represents a double-edged sword insofar as the industry expects AWS to roll out feature after feature and relentlessly redefine the meaning of the much maligned phrase “cloud computing”. That said, AWS’s record of innovation generates a converse pressure on potential rivals such as Rackspace and the commercial OpenStack community to similarly innovate at a rate faster than currently permitted by OpenStack’s six month release cycle. Nevertheless, Rackspace’s experience in the IaaS space and impeccable customer support pedigree renders it a key player that could well leverage OpenStack’s inter-operability to good measure.
Microsoft and Google both have the capital and wherewithal to compete with Amazon Web Services in price, but both struggle with “perception problems” of different flavors. The bottom line is that the IaaS race still remains wide open, particularly given the commitments made by tech giants and startups alike to platforms with similar functionality and visions. Strimling makes no mention of CloudStack, here, but one can assume they constitute a major player as well.
Google Will Need To Overcome Multiple Perception Problems To Compete With AWS
Even though Google has the technological infrastructure to pose a significant threat to AWS, it will need to shed its reputation for lack of dedication to enterprise customers. Admittedly, Google Docs has done some of the work of orienting Google towards the enterprise, but there is still much work to be done if Google wants to be perceived as less than fickle with respect to its history of rolling out products in Beta that it subsequently retracts. Moreover, given Google’s virtually unparalleled capability for searching through machine data, customers are likely to be wary of placing sensitive information in an infrastructure that permits Google to indulge its penchant for data mining. Google will need to appease customer concerns about privacy and security with strong, unequivocal customer agreements and licensing terms that guarantee the safety of its data from prying eyes qua search algorithms. Finally, Google will need a thought leader in the form of an outward facing CTO that can explain its technology and infrastructure to the enterprise in terms that CIOs, CTOs and the blogosphere understands and trusts. Just as Werner Vogels became the face of Amazon Web Services, Google will need to brand another cloud visionary with the ability to build trust amongst enterprise customers, developers and the “cloud computing” community more generally.
Zenoss recently revealed the results of a survey about the state of open source cloud adoption based on a poll of more than 100,000 “community members” that engaged topics such as:
•Open source clouds deployed today
•Current open source implementations
•Aspects of an open source cloud that are important
•Decision drivers to migrate to an open source cloud
The survey also featured questions on Platform as a Service adoption amongst Zenoss’s community members that more generally examined the state of PaaS within the cloud landscape, whether from an open source vendor or otherwise.
Highlights of Zenoss’s survey about open source cloud adoption include the following:
•Only 17.2% of all cloud deployments are currently open source. If true, this figure means that OpenStack has a lot of work to do if it hopes to challenge the market dominance of Amazon Web Services and other proprietary cloud solutions. 17.2% constitutes a slender percentage of cloud installations, and OpenStack claims roughly 50% of that percentage according to Zenoss, meaning that its total market share in the cloud space is approximately 8.6%.
•Openstack leads the pack in terms of open source cloud deployments with more than 50.5% of surveyed installations. Cloudstack and Eucalyptus take second and third place with 18.3% and 9.2%, respectively.
•Even though OpenStack claims more than 50% of all open source cloud deployments, the race for market leadership in the open source cloud space still remains wide open. Despite all of the press OpenStack has received both regarding product releases and its Foundation, it still has yet to command the open source cloud market.
•Open source product maturity and lack of support were designated as the key factors mitigating against open source cloud adoption.
•Zenoss claims Google Apps leads PaaS adoption with 51.6% of the market in comparison to 18.7% for Microsoft Azure, 15.4% for VMware’s Cloud Foundry and 14.3% for Red Hat’s OpenShift. These results indicate that many of the other well known PaaS players such as Heroku or Engine Yard have either yet to gain significant traction in terms of numbers of installations, or otherwise that the survey fails to provide as granular a picture of the PaaS space as one might hope.
Data about cloud deployments is tough to come by, so kudos to Zenoss for conducting and releasing the results of this survey. The results of the survey should serve as a welcome point of reference for future debates and discussions about the state of open source cloud products within the larger universe of cloud software and platforms.
See the results of the survey below:
In recent weeks, speculation about the commercial viability of OpenStack as a non-proprietary alternative to Amazon Web Services has mounted given the launch of the OpenStack Foundation, the release of the Essex version of its code and the deployment of Beta versions of OpenStack-based public clouds by Rackspace and HP . The debate about OpenStack’s readiness for the enterprise has been rendered all the more intense because of Citrix’s surprise decision to open-source CloudStack to the Apache Software Foundation, thereby creating a competitor to OpenStack overnight. Meanwhile, Amazon Web Services continues its relentless unfurling of feature after feature, and product after product onto its cloud computing platform in an effort to become the web’s one stop shopping ground for cloud software deployment, whether that involves IaaS, PaaS, SaaS, big data, cloud automation, an online marketplace or some combination thereof.
In an effort to obtain industry insight into the three horse battle between CloudStack, OpenStack and Amazon Web Services, I spoke to Floyd Strimling, Technical Evangelist and the Senior Director of Marketing & Community at Zenoss, a leading provider of management software for physical, virtual, and cloud-based IT infrastructures. As elaborated in his responses to the questions below, Strimling noted that OpenStack is tremendously promising but faces multiple challenges in the form of competition from CloudStack, the “staggering” rate of innovation of Amazon Web Services, the danger of Android-like fragmentation within the OpenStack community, and the technical challenge of delivering a “stable, flexible, and useable release that is ready for production deployments.” Strimling also identified “Red Hat as the most likely vendor to succeed in commercializing OpenStack” but refused to count out Piston Cloud Computing and Nebula from the list of candidates that will deliver successful commercialized versions of OpenStack.
Cloud Computing Today: How would you describe the place of OpenStack and CloudStack in relation to Amazon Web Services? Technically, for example, how would you compare CloudStack to OpenStack?
Floyd Strimling: While it is very tempting to compare OpenStack and CloudStack to Amazon Web Services, it is really not a productive exercise. OpenStack/CloudStack are enabling technologies that are used to build private and public clouds while AWS is itself a public cloud. Instead, you’ll need to compare the implementations of OpenStack or CloudStack to AWS and see how they fare. Thankfully, we’ll have that opportunity as two high profile OpenStack public clouds, Rackspace and HP, are released. While most of the technical elite ponders the future of OpenStack, the fact is most AWS customers are less worried about the enabling technologies underlying AWS. Instead, customers are focused on the services AWS offers, the features they provide, and the usability and stability of the solution. This puts Amazon in an extremely powerful position as they are focused on their own path and vision while essential obfuscating the underlying technology.
With regards to the place of OpenStack and CloudStack within the cloud market, they are extremely important as the represent a disruptive force that is open, disruptive, innovative, yet unproven.
I’m not about to step into the emotionally charged arguments of CloudStack vs. OpenStack. It’s really the difference between a commercially polished solution and one that has great promise. In the end, the needs of the users themselves will determine which is the superior solution as well as risks with each product.
Cloud Computing Today: As everyone knows, OpenStack has the potential to significantly impact the balance of cloud computing market share, particularly as it relates to IaaS. What dangers do you foresee for OpenStack in the coming year or two?
Floyd Strimling: While OpenStack has the potential to impact the balance of cloud computing market share, the questions are all about execution. Additionally, OpenStack has plenty of competition within CloudStack, vCloud, Eucalyptus, and more. Will OpenStack clouds have the chance to compete against established public clouds such as Amazon and Microsoft? If so, how?
The reality is OpenStack is full of large and powerful companies with competing agendas. Does Rackspace want to “share” the cloud business with HP or dominate? Does Red Hat want to share the commercialization of OpenStack with the likes of upstart Piston Cloud? This leads these competitors to differentiate their solutions and has the potential to create fragmentation of OpenStack a la Google’s Android. While each provider starts with the same core solution, they innovate around it via features, integrations, or other capabilities.
With that said, the biggest danger to OpenStack may be its ability to create a stable and mature release for its “customers.” After all, OpenStack’s customers are gunning for Amazon and they certainly aren’t standing still. OpenStack must resist the temptation to boil the ocean and instead focus on providing a stable, flexible, and useable release that is ready for production deployments. Time will tell if the OpenStack community is up for the task.
Cloud Computing Today: How do you foresee OpenStack’s most significant technical challenge? What must OpenStack achieve in order to become a credible alternative to Amazon Web Services?
Floyd Strimling: Perhaps the most significant technical challenge for OpenStack is building a commercially viable solution that satisfies the needs of its members while keeping pace with its competitors. It’s a daunting task to know that you have competition from other open source projects as well as public cloud providers.
Again, as OpenStack is an enabling technology, it needs a commercially viable offering that is in production to compete against Amazon Web Services. However, this is only the first step. These OpenStack clouds must have the features, availability, ease of use, scale, etc. to stand up to AWS. The challenge is as OpenStack struggles for technical parity with AWS, AWS is moving forward at a staggering pace offering innovative solutions with seemingly endless price reductions.
Cloud Computing Today: Which vendor or vendors do you see as most likely to succeed in commercializing OpenStack?
Floyd Strimling: I see Red Hat as the most likely vendor to succeed in commercializing OpenStack. After all, Red Hat has done this before and they finally are focused on the cloud. However, Red Hat has plenty of work to do to make this a reality. Additionally, an intriguing partnership of sorts would be if Red Hat and Rackspace created a joint offering. Red Hat would provide the enterprise or private cloud solution while Rackspace would handle the public cloud. In essence, this would give customers the ability to create hybrid environments backed by proven commercially viable companies.
Additionally, I wouldn’t count out Piston Cloud or Nebula as they offer unique solutions that are based on OpenStack. Piston’s ability to utilize a customer’s existing network hardware, such as Arista Networks, to build a secure, open, and easy to deploy cloud is a very compelling solution. In contrast, Nebula’s appliance-based solution offers a simple way to build an OpenStack cloud that appeals to those that prefer hardware-based solutions.
Floyd Strimling is a Technical Evangelist and the Senior Director of Marketing & Community at Zenoss. Floyd has been following the Cloud computing/autonomic computing (and predecessors), datacenter automation, virtualization, networking and security areas now for over a decade. Floyd also writes on technology trends at his personal blog, The Platen Report.
Zenoss is a leading provider of management software for physical, virtual, and cloud-based IT infrastructures. Over 35,000 organizations worldwide have deployed Zenoss to manage their networks, servers, virtual devices, storage, and cloud infrastructure, gaining complete visibility and predictability into their IT operations. Customers include Rackspace, VMware, Hosting.com, LinkedIn, Motorola and SunGard.