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There’s a lot of grumbling about pricing models in the cloud. Some folks want to lock you in to a contract for 12 months – doesn’t seem very on-demand, does it? Some are strictly on-demand. Then there is this new fangled spot-pricing thing, which seems like Priceline for infrastructure. I keep thinking back to that one horrid hotel room I had in Omaha…


For an IT group not accustomed to buying anything in the cloud, I can’t see how they’d start calculating ROI with so many different pricing models. It isn’t the lack of good pricing – it’s the abundance of confusing pricing. I feel like I need a PhD in economics to work it all out – but then, with this blasted CS degree, I was never very good at demand curves.


I feel like this is all leading to a different classification of IT services. Some might be nice-to-haves or non-urgent, and you can take your time finding the perfect weekend with low spot prices to run them. Others might be ongoing, persistent creatures that may as well be signed up for a 12 month contract, to get the better rate. Like a CD for IT, they can just sit there till they come due. And then there’s the cloudiest of on-demand elastic expanding contracting services. These fickle fellows are probably best handled with on demand pricing.


We’re not used to segregating our IT by classes of erratic behavior. But, hey, relative to all the other arbitrary designations we’ve had over the years, maybe this one is as good as any. And it might help us save a buck.


--The Curmudgeon


To weigh in, comment below! I'll begrudgingly read your thoughts. To suggest a rant - email me at cloudcurmudgeon@bmc.com.

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For all you cloud enthusiasts out there, I just felt it was unfair that you didn’t have a song to sing as you dream of lollipops and cloud computing. So, I have taken a page from that greatest of dreamers, Kermit the Frog, and given you that which you need so much. Please sing it to the melody of “The Rainbow Connection”, and, if it all possible, sit on a log in swamp while strummhttp://images3.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20061025005205/uncyclopedia/images/9/94/KermitGuitar.jpging your banjo and staring wistfully at the sky.

 

The Cloud Hype Connection

 

Why are they so many, blogs about Cloud Computing
And why must you have it now?
Clouds are visions, but only illusions
And Clouds are nothing but hype
So, we’ve been told, and some choose to believe it
I know they’re wrong, wait and see
Some day we’ll find it, the Cloud Hype Connection
The bloggers, the dreamers, and me.

 

Who said that every wish would be heard and answered
When put in a Public Cloud?
Somebody thought of it, and built a start up
And look what it’s done so far.
What so amazing that keeps us cloud gazing
And what do we think we might see?
Some day we’ll find it, the Cloud Hype Connection
The bloggers, the dreamers, and me.

 

All of us under its spell. We know that it’s probably magic.

 

Have you been half asleep, on a conference call?
I do it twice a day.
Is that the CIO, asking for an update?
“Where is my Private Cloud?”
I’ve heard it too many times to ignore it.
“Build it or You’re Fired” he says to me.
Some day we’ll find it, the Cloud Hype Connection
The bloggers, the dreamers, and me.

 

La dee da dee da da  do,  la da dee da da da doooooo

 

 

--The Curmudgeon

 

To weigh in, comment below! I'll begrudgingly read your thoughts. To suggest a rant - email me atcloudcurmudgeon@bmc.com.

Dark Clouds?

Posted by Cloud Curmudgeon Sep 16, 2010
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I just read an interesting InfoWorld article here http://www.infoworld.com/t/malware/criminals-go-cloud-attacks-service-398, about a cloud-based “service” that offers paid distributed-denial-of-service attacks. In this case, the “cloud” is a botnet, apparently operated by a China-based group of criminals.   Putting aside the illegality and immorality of this, the Curmudgeon must grudgingly applaud their attempts at eliminating inefficiencies within their criminal domain.  Why go to all the trouble of creating your own botnet, when you can just rent one from felonious entrepreneurs such as these? This will allow criminal organizations to focus on their “core business” (whatever that may be), rather than investing in non-differentiated IT infrastructure.
The lesson for Enterprise IT here is that as you consider using external service providers, pay careful attention to their security measures, SLAs, and approaches to network isolation (multi-tenancy).  While in this instance the criminals were using a botnet as a cloud, we can easily anticipate cases where customers of legitimate public cloud providers use their resources for nefarious purposes.  This is yet another reason why you’ll need to make sure that your corporate data and compute activities are well-secured and walled off from other customers within a public cloud

I just read an interesting InfoWorld article here , about a cloud-based “service” that offers paid distributed-denial-of-service attacks. In this case, the “cloud” is a botnet, apparently operated by a China-based group of criminals.   Putting aside the illegality and immorality of this, the Curmudgeon must grudgingly applaud their attempts at eliminating inefficiencies within their criminal domain.  Why go to all the trouble of creating your own botnet, when you can just rent one from felonious entrepreneurs such as these? This will allow criminal organizations to focus on their “core business” (whatever that may be), rather than investing in non-differentiated IT infrastructure.


The lesson for Enterprise IT here is that as you consider using external service providers, pay careful attention to their security measures, SLAs, and approaches to network isolation (multi-tenancy).  While in this instance the criminals were using a botnet as a cloud, we can easily anticipate cases where customers of legitimate public cloud providers use their resources for nefarious purposes.  This is yet another reason why you’ll need to make sure that your corporate data and compute activities are well-secured and walled off from other customers within a public cloud.  Go forth and be Cloudy, just be careful....


--The Curmudgeon

To weigh in, comment below! I'll begrudgingly read your thoughts. To suggest a rant - email me atcloudcurmudgeon@bmc.com.

SLAs for Dummies

Posted by Cloud Curmudgeon Sep 16, 2010
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So can anyone explain to me why nobody seems to want to talk about Service Level Agreements (SLAs) in the cloud?! That’s like putting your life savings in a local community bank, and not asking if they are FDIC-insured. “Sorry Sir. The Government has taken over Local Bank, Inc., and your account balance was used to help pay off their massive losses. Have a nice day”. And the bottom line is that just like the FDIC, SLAs are a win-win situation for customers and providers both.


SLAs are the way you set expectations in the cloud relationship. Otherwise, how can the customer know what they are paying for? And, how can the provider interpret complaints of “service is slow”, if they have never defined what good is? I would compare it to those antiques buying shows I like on TV. Some of those people selling their old junk love to answer the question “How much do you want for it?” with “How much do you think it is worth”? Sure, sometimes that gets you more money, but most of the time it just annoys the customer and reduces the likelihood of selling something. So why would it work in the cloud?

 

Now, let’s get a little academic and talk about “price theory” (Ahh, good ol’ Milton Friedman). The short version of it is that a “price” is the most efficient way to compromise between the utility to the customer and the cost to the provider. In other words, price represents what the service or product is worth to the customer, and what the provider is willing to charge for it, and still make a profit. SLAs represent an important part of defining what exactly the end user is buying and what the provider is giving. And then, by assigning different prices to different SLAs, the provider allows the customer to quickly choose what the service is worth to them. So, if I am a customer putting my revenue-critical public website in the cloud, I might want the “Gold” service with a “five 9s” uptime guarantee. But this other customer, that is merely a developer looking for a testing environment, would be fine with the “Bronze” offering and only a 90% uptime guarantee. Now the provider can use cheaper equipment and lower cost processes on the “Bronze” offering, and still make a profit - all while maintaining a happy customer!

 

Now why isn’t this an essential part of the Cloud Service paradigm? Because the customers aren’t asking for it! So, Mr. or Mrs. Customer, make sure you ask for an SLA next time you shop for a Cloud Service, and let’s hope all the providers catch on.

 

--The Curmudgeon

 

To weigh in, comment below! I'll begrudgingly read your thoughts. To suggest a rant - email me at cloudcurmudgeon@bmc.com.

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There are a lot of things that get my dandruff up – noisy neighbors, reality TV shows, and annoying teenagers feature prominently. But considering the subject of this blog, I’ll tackle the “Magic of the Cloud” today. Little frustrates me more than to see the hype of Cloud Computing peddle this next IT advance as something akin to an tech equivalent of Snake Oil. “Ladies and Gentleman, YES, Cloud Computing will make your IT glossy and shiny while saving you millions of dollars in the process”. What CIO under pressure from his CEO to build a “cloud” can resist this magical proposition?! Just one problem – for most customers, it just isn’t true.


So what’s missing? I can put it in one word – Automation. Anyone reading the literature today might be forgiven for thinking that Virtualization is the end-all-be-all of building your own private or public cloud. That is like buying a new fancy, shiny sports car, but forgetting to check if there is a real engine under the hood. You will look really good in your new car, but the only people appreciating your new purchase will be in the car sales lot.


And like that the engine in that sports car, Automation is not a new invention. The question is just whether enterprise-class automation is integrated into your cloud service delivery infrastructure. That is – is your engine actually installed in and designed for your shiny new car. In particular, there are two kinds of automation you need to consider: Process Automation and Configuration Automation. With the former you need to be able to automate your service request and change approval processes on the end-user end of your cloud. Sending emails and shouting over the cube wall just doesn’t cut it in the age of cloud computing. And once you automate the processes, the actual action part (i.e. building virtual machines, installing applications, setting up network settings, etc.) needs to be automated as well. As enterprise customers adopt cloud computing, pushing out bare-bones virtual machines with minimal configuration choices just won’t provide enough value.


So, as you look at trying to move beyond the cloud hype and seriously consider building a private or hybrid cloud, I encourage you to open the hood and look at the engine. Just like buying a new car, the engine is the most important of the package, not the shiny paint job.


--The Curmudgeon


To weigh in, comment below! I'll begrudgingly read your thoughts. To suggest a rant - email me at cloudcurmudgeon@bmc.com.