Friday, March 22, 2013

Cloud Bracket Busters AWS and Hybrid Cloud

On this week's episode of So Say SMEs, Kong and I discuss the new announcement from VMware of a Hybrid Cloud service in the spirit of March Madness.

Notice the cool circuit board design on the wall behind us - anybody know where we filmed this episode?

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Performance Perception In The Cloud

A funny thing seems to happen when applications are run in the "cloud" instead of just "virtual" in your local datacenter.  The perception of performance is changed.

As a part of my job, we look almost everyday at the performance of applications running in Virtual Machines.  We sometimes compare this performance against applications running natively on hardware and sometimes we are just measuring response time or looking for lost cycles.  Even small differences of less than a percent are important and improvements of whole percentages are celebrated.

Customers like to get into detailed discussions about how much "overhead" virtualization brings.  Settings and configuration options in vSphere that they can use to squeeze out every last drop are given in whitepapers, presentations, and blogs.  This is the kind of stuff that I consider fun and interesting.

But when we discuss running applications in the "cloud" the aspects of performance that are important change.  Even though all clouds are enabled by a virtualizaiton layer with virtual machines running around on top, the performance concern is almost always only about scaling.  Can additional instances be spun up to meet customer demand in real time?  Can storage capacity be expanded infinitely into the future?  There is absolutely no discussion about virtualization "overhead".

I believe that there are many reasons for this difference in perception.  Some of these reasons even make logical sense, but I don't think that the logical aspect is what is driving this difference in view.

It is primarily driven by the completely different approach that true "cloud" computing brings.  The underlying infrastructure is being turned over to somebody else, and the customer is simply purchasing a service.  While in the virtualization world, the underlying infrastructure is still under the control of the person making the decisions.  Even though both a cloud and a virtualized data center will be using the same virtualization approach, it is only the virtualized data center that is questioned about "overhead".

Interesting to me that the evaluation of performance is so different between these two.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Database Evolution Revolution

An excellent blog by Chuck Hollis today really got me thinking about databases.  In Chuck's post (on Chucks's Blog) he relates a presentation by Charles Fan that was recently given.  From Databases to Dataclouds is the title and a good overall summary of the blog / presentation.

After reading it my initial reaction is that this seems like a total revolution in how data is used and harnessed.  We are now talking about being able to use new database technologies and techniques to mange, control, and analyze data in near real-time.  Time-to-decision in seconds.  Data literally flowing all around us and yet captured, analyzed, and understood in real-time.

We would all like to see the world move on from relational databases to a totally new approach - a revolutionary approach.  But the reality is that the relational database will continue to be the key core aspect of just about any data intensive effort.  Additional features and optimization will continue to be added.  Entirely new ways to deal with and manage data can be used in conjunction.  But the core strengths of relational databases (transactions come to mind) will continue to make them indispensable.

I believe that what we are seeing is an evolution in database software combined with an evolution in hardware performance which adds up to a revolution when seen together.

When you take this and use it on top of the revolution that virtualization has created, you end up with a paradigm shifting view of the world.  Even though Chuck's blog is kinda long, I recommend that you read it through and see if it makes you start thinking too.