The CLOUD is real… now what?

The CLOUD is upon you

In 2011 many were still wondering if the CLOUD really meant anything in terms of technology, dollars, and or cents. Looking back on 2011 all I can see is a whirl of nebulocity surrounding what-is with what-could-be. Here’s what I think might change significantly in the next 12 months or so:

The CLOUD is real… WHERE’S MINE?

Ok, so we’ve seen people make money off cloud… now I want one. Go build me my own thing that makes money too. Make it look like the King and maybe the King will be forced to buy it… I mean there can’t be 3 kings can there? So now that 2012 is almost here… people are realizing the cloud isn’t just a nebulous swirl of vapor-ware… now let’s start the ASP second chance foundation. Do I need a license for that? I think there will be a lot of opportunities to abstract licenses with SaaS deliveries. Some may exploit the gimmicks that should not have been codified into the licenses in the first place. What comes around goes around, but by now the only ISVs who are likely to be affected by it are the monolithicly most comprehensive solution providers who claim they invented everything. Invention by consolidation should be on the rise in 2012, by the way, I’m guessing.

ASP Second Life


Application service providers were right. Applications can often be served better warm, with human love. At minimum viability, a product contains at least one service component. Automation is great, but services contain humans and humans contain human error. Consumers love to cut out the middle-man, but once they’ve made all their man-in-the-middle attacks and all their paper dolls of sliced and diced middle-men they realize that they want service. So they go to http://asherbond.com/contact and ask for technical advice. Anyone who knows Second Life (or other virtual realities) knows that people like to design things and build things themselves. But if you’re going to build a cloud please ask yourself where the economies-of-scale exist. Now that the technology concepts have been proven in business practice many more customers are going to ask for cloud service, but what they’re really actually asking for is people (sometimes via a RESTful API).

The difference between application services and software-as-a-service is abstraction measured by a degree of multi-tenancy.

Compliance-and-Regulatory-Tunneling-and-Channeling-as-a-Service

They thought regulations and compliance “hurdles” created jobs… and they were right… in the short term… but what they might have missed is that it also creates jobs for service providers who can broker emerging technology as a service.

Business-Process-as-a-Service (#BPaaS)

What kinda cloud u talking bout? We got SaaS BPaaS and my personal favorite: GSaaS. GSaaS loves you brother. Now let me show you how to run your business. I expect to hear a lot of “what kinda PaaS” from developers and a lot of ooooo aaaah from business process practitioners… but the process consultants deserve a chance to really shine and this is it. I got my developer card revoked a couple times for saying “Cloud is SOA” but I got a new one from VeriSign and now I think developers are starting to be cool about it now that they realize that OASIS was right and that so was I since I said so too, neh. The first guy who raked my graphic depictions over the campfire did admit however, “yeah ok man.. i guess if you’re talking about REST.” So it turns out predictions in 2010 were accurate. I think service-component architecture and visual programming are going to play a role in RESTful integration as software components are service-oriented. I strongly expect scalability requirements and cloud-readiness motivators to stir the pot. Service-orientation is inevitable when technology is applied. Developers are empowered as decision makers and technical advisors, so maybe they would be interested in subscribing to business-process-as-a-service since they have more of a technical focus.

The most COMPREHENSIVE solution – brought to you by the Federated Association of Governing Consolidators

So what if you’re an investor and you buy and sell technology securities and you want some of that good old fashioned ROI. How can you make any money in this cloud biz now that the developers are taking over? Oh yeah there’s this little thing called the most COMPREHENSIVE solution. Big comprehensive, little solution. That’s right folks. The time is NOW. Buy everything. Your cloud portfolio is about to make it rain, but before you buy everything… you have to know how this stuff works and what it does. Haha just joking… now back to our regularly consolidated program… I think in 2012 we might continue to see enterprisey comprehensive solution providers trying to convince people that they are the box you can put your cloud into… or are they more of a comprehensive solution “cloud” that spans actual clouds with meaningful definitions which exist in actual physical datacenters? Who gives these large enterprisey comprehensive solution providers the authority to do this? The customer lets them get away with it because they sponsor industry events and they are often older companies who played a role in many of the technologies that end up as cloud. They equivocate between distribution models of cloud computing, for example… they might get behind the technology curve doing tons of non-emerging has-been-mature-for-a-decade-or-so SaaS business then pretend they are powering IaaS today on a public scale… when the emerging technologies are PaaS based.

DevOps as more of a cultural paradigm shift and movement and less of a title

People are going to start either killing each other based on their choice of configuration management / automation framework or they are going to start getting along more and not putting DevOps in their title unless it has Engineer at the end of it and Lead in the the front of it. Designers are going to be constrained by tighter iterations and Ops are going to punch developers just because they haven’t been punched before and everyone goes through it.

Developer-as-a-customer

In the old days, developers could be divided and conquered by business managers much more easily. The days of developers having a great idea that no one understands are not over… but “I don’t understand how this stuff works” is no longer an excuse now that we have so many services available. If you don’t know how something works… just ask… only now… you don’t even have to ask how to do it, you can ask for service. If you don’t know how something works, that something might be new and valuable. Dustin said it already, but I think public offerers are going to focus more on influencing the decisions of software developers. Software developers represent change in the direction of requirements and demands… not just whatever seems wanted right now… I think developers often try to guess (like Steve Jobs R.I.P.) what people need since they’re probably going to want that eventually. I could probably guess that a pregnant mom is going to be in the market for diapers sooner or later. Hopefully sooner rather than later. Developers are in the early stages from cradle to grave. They iterate through software development and application life cycles and deliver features based on requirements. Those features become part of a common framework that can be offered more publicly. It’s not new, but software vendors love to put developers on their platforms. What’s new is that developers are not-so-divided and not-so-conquered… so they probably demand a higher degree of ubiquity in their distribution channels… so they probably demand a higher degree of interoperability in their language frameworks.

Applications are most portable when the target distribution platform is based on open-standards.

Public Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) Top Doggery

Not everyone can be King of the Hill, but I think there’s room for a whole circle of winners in the market segment of public PaaS. We have seen 3 generations of public platform service offerings to developers:

Totally Rigidly Arcane PaaS

The first platform services with public offerings forced the developer to conform to a proprietary framework. The back end was a confidential operation delivered as a multi-tenant service to subscribers who learned how to conform to the proprietary framework. The framework may have been based on python or java, but constrained the developer to the platform of implementation rather than the standards of the enabling technologies within.

Still-exploiting-the-constraint PaaS

This type of platform is built secretly and operates as a proprietary service, but relies on open-source components to deliver services which are mostly compliant with open-standards. A true language is always an open-standard.

Open PaaS – as it should be

Third generation platform services are completely portable. This type of middle-ware essentially replaces the role of the “operating system” as a software component with “systems-in-operation” instantiated as objects by a framework of classes delivered as a platform of services for developers to build things on top of. The distribution model allows for services to be delivered with scalability, flexibility, interoperability, high availability and the distribution model also allows for platform portability and application interoperability by default. The evolution of service-component architecture (SCA) and visual programming may also influence the adoption of visual programming in the cloud as practical users are abstracted by service and frictionless design becomes the practice.

Next Generation PaaS+

I think of PaaS+ as a value-added platform-as-a-service which may include business processes as a service or may include additional DevOps tooling or methodologies-as-a-service (MaaS?) whatever… The framework (tool) teaches you the process. In a toolcloud you might experience something like a toolbox… for example when you’re using Gmail, you realize that Gmail is a Google approach to email… it’s not just an “email program” … so you get some agility along with the nebulocity of the cloudy SaaSfulness. So I think that the next generation PaaS+ will need to put their pluses on by adding some kind of business or other practical high level value. Some of this high level value can be delivered in the form of integration. Cloudbees has moved forward with their initiative to add continuous integration via Jenkins/Hudson integrated service components in their PaaS offering. I think DevOps toolclouds will emerge via the PaaS delivery model and that like Cloudbees other cloud service providers who have a PaaS offering may choose to offer a chocolate or strawberry new flavor of PaaS for Dev and possibly a vanilla PaaS for their long term support in production interoperability and highly available portability PaaSes. I guess Leiloo Dallas could call that one a multi-PaaS just in time to kiss Korbin and save the world before New Years.

Predictive Monitoring and SLAs

Predictive monitoring tools will leverage Hadoop and other big data / analytics. The abstraction of data itself may become an abstract business-process-as-a-service and drive innovation in system performance as SLA’s are enforced and predictive deep monitoring tools allow autonomous and dynamic autoscaling of instances in resource pools.

Resource Pool Expansion and Utility Computing Commodotitization

I think the price of public cloud will start to look like a true utility and come down quite a bit. Companies like Amazon Web Services probably would lower their prices is the demand wasn’t way too high. When more IaaS vendors such as Rackspace, Opsource, Datapipe, et al.. enter the space (they’re already here) and start to compete for customers, the price of raw x86 compatible IaaS should come down quite a bit and make people re-think their hybrid strategies. For now, many organizations may benefit from a flexible hybrid cloud strategy that (for example) may leverage their existing infrastructure to orchestrate public cloud services.

Security implications of Cloud Computing

Cloud computing lowers the barriers to entry by people who ordinarily could not access high performance clusters of nodes to do complex brute-force math research on your “encrypted” password… or just fire up an array of nodes and aim it at the ssh port. Nothing they couldn’t do in the old days of dark matter / botnet clouds. What IP address did that come from? A leased one in a classy datacenter. I think public cloud providers are going to become very security-savvy (actually they really are top notch in most cases). It will be interesting to see how they empower themselves from the big data + hypervisor perspective.

Rinse that CLOUD out ‘cha mouth boy!

At some point… analysts are saying that there is a “hype cycle” in which cloud word sentiment shall become stale. The word cloud will either become ultra-ubiquitous like industry insiders are saying… or it may become a bit blase.. numb from the excessive nebulocity of smoke and mirrors becoming clouds too. I think if we can refrain from partying too hard it might help. Happy new years eve. Be responsible and make backups.

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Posted in cloud computing, Test-Driven DevOps Design