Archive for December, 2011
– War is not the answer…. End War
– Peace is the answer…. Make Peace
Both statements have the same good intention, except “end war” puts the emphasis on the relatively negative word “war,” while “make peace” puts the emphasis on a very positive thought. Words matter, just ask any political pollster how they craft their surveys & slogans, and you’ll learn the persuasive word science of Frank Luntz . Written words are the results of thought, thoughts are the results of “energy,” and putting energy out to the Universe creates results.
Internally at Sonian I coined the phrase “gaming the cloud” as a rally cry to describe how we manage the cloud to our benefit. We’re not doing anything unsavory or nefarious, just architecting software and creating processes that take advantage of all the positive attributes of cloud computing. We’re innovating exactly how cloud infrastructure vendors hoped would happen when they welcomed ISV’s to innovate on their platforms. It’s the best of all times to be creating cloud-powered software as a service.
So when I say “gaming the cloud,” what I really mean is seeking our best economic advantage. When we make the right software design decisions, we’re not only getting the best cost of goods, we’re also getting the best reliability. But I realize the phrase “gaming the cloud” carries an unintended negative pall. The mental image is not in the true spirit of our mission.
So what’s the positive alternative to “Gaming the Cloud?” …. Playing the Cloud.
“Playing the Cloud” to create superior economic advantage!”
Deconstructing the new phrase, the pivotal word is “playing” as the antidote to “gaming.” Gaming has a negative connotation, while “playing” is neutral at worst, and can be used in a variety of ways as a play on words. In an economic sense there is “playing the market,” or “playing the ponies,” and in a mission sense there is “playing to win.”
The cloud is a system of pricing rules. Prior to the cloud, system architects thought in terms of “servers” as their building blocks. In the cloud, the building blocks are compute units and API calls. Servers have costs, fairly easily understood since that was the reference standard for the past twenty years. Architects could determine overall system costs by knowing how many servers they need. In the cloud, compute units and API requests also have costs, but priced very differently than a piece of hardware. Cloud architects have a more difficult time figuring out total “infrastructure expense.”
The future looks great since the cloud is all about “infrastructure as code,” cloud-powered systems can be made self-aware of their own internal operating costs. That’s a dramatic paradigm shift from the old co-location days. And we’re witnessing this shift in real-time as cloud adoption rises.
So when you hear the phrase “gaming the cloud” don’t imagine the dark-side… think about the positive alternative “Playing the Cloud” for superior economic advantage.
This is an essay that was published to the Sonian cloud compute blog. Cross posting here for this audience.
In the past I have written about the secret to successful cloud deployments and how to architect for the cloud. Being successful requires a “designed-for-the-cloud” architecture, best operational practices and DevOps on steroids.
A couple weeks ago Amazon notified a majority of their customers about an upcoming event that us early-to-the-cloud pioneers hadn’t seen before; a forced reboot of the host operating system. On a massive scale. For Sonian, 72% of our currently running EC2 instances will need to be restarted before Amazon’s deadline. There is no reprieve. There is no deferment. Welcome to Infrastructure as a Service!
We had to scramble in order to assess the impact. All we learned from the email notice was that a portion of our EC2 instances would need to be restarted. Actually there were two types of restarts. An operating system reboot, which would preserve the non-persistent ephemeral storage, and a more invasive full instance restart (meaning the hardware under the hypervisor would power-cycle) which would not preserve the ephemeral storage.
One of the major mistakes cloud customers can make is to get complacent and treat the cloud like traditional co-located hosting. The cloud has different operating characteristics, what one could call the “cloud laws of physics,” and this forced restart is a good example of this principle in action. It’s also a wake up call to not get lazy. A large scale forced restart is like an earthquake drill. Practice makes perfect, and if this were an actual un-scheduled emergency, then we would be scrambling.
Despite the headache, this event has some positive spins. First it’s encouraging there is an “EC2 fleet upgrade.” This means newer underlying hardware. Perhaps faster NIC cards in the hosts. But for the companies like Sonian that started in the cloud circa 2007, some of our original instances that have been running for more than a year needed a “freshening.” This event reminds us there is a “hardware” center to every amorphous cloud. Amazon just does a great job to allow us to not have to think about that too often, except for times like these. A stale part of the cloud gets a refresh.
The second “benefit” is the forced fire drill. I know, there’s never a good time for the fire drill. But this type of event has similar qualities to an unexpected outage. There is some luxury to pre-planning, but the shake-out will be the same. Something will be discovered in your architecture or deployment practices that will get improved by this reboot activity. Clusters may be too hard-coded. Config settings may be to restrictive. Reboot scripts may not work as you think.
Sonian survives unscathed due to our maniacal focus on 100% automated deployments, 100% commitment to “infrastructure as code,” and an investment in cloud control tools that allowed us to triage the situation and develop an action plan relatively quickly. We also employ the best darn DevOps team the cloud has seen.
I’ve been working in enterprise software since the late 1980′s, and what I am witnessing as a participant in “the cloud” is the pace of cloud technology innovation over the past five years blows away the previous two decades.
There is a real noticeable trend here. We didn’t see this in SaaS powered by co-location hosting. What we are seeing with the cloud, and the ISV’s that adopted the cloud five years ago, is truly amazing. Sonian is entering a release cadence updating production systems with substantial new features every month.
Cloud Innovation – Part 1
- Innovation history of Amazon Web Services 2005-2007
- How Sonian amplifies cloud innovation
- Sonian as an example of the “perfect” cloud ISV
Cloud Innovation – Part 2
- Innovation history of Amazon Web Services 2008-2011
- Comments about Gov Cloud
>> RT Sheth: average business software user is looking at something designed 7-8 years ago
Got me to thinking “that statement is so true!”
With the world seemingly “falling apart” around us, the essence of Cloud Computing, and the applications created specifically for the cloud, are the breath of fresh air that enterprise IT needs to succeed for the next decade.
Doing more with less. “Zero Friction” service enablement. Pay as you go. Really good reliability and security.
These are the primary themes behind cloud computing. Sure there are a lot of haters, they just haven’t seen the light, or are consumed with fear, uncertainty and doubt as the cloud threatens their comfort zone.