Do you even stack, bro?

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With the announcement of the Cloud Foundry Foundation initiative today, we have some really great things to look forward to in the cloud and virtualization industry.

The move was an indication in many ways about the direction in the landscape of infrastructure providers, and it is being driven by a new, agile, adapting consumer market. Plus, it is not just happening in Silicon Valley startups any more. This shift in the industry is starting to happen at the enterprise level, and is even seeping down into the small to medium (SMB) marketplace.

The Cloud Foundry architecture is a phenomenal example of adding an abstraction layer to the underlying infrastructure to allow for standardized delivery of application services.

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Image source: http://www.slideshare.net/cdavisafc/cloud-foundry-technical-overview (slide 9 of 33)

You can already see that there are 3 specifically referenced virtualization platforms shown (VMware, OpenStack, Amazon Web Services) which was already a sign of how well adopted the platform has become.

Co-opetition is Good

In the past, there were many who frowned upon the idea of board members cross-pollinating, particularly when there was a commercial interest by some or all of those members. The success of the OpenStack Foundation in its governance model has opened the door for what Cloud Foundry is doing now with massive industry players IBM, EMC, VMware , and Rackspace each contributing 1.5 million dollars to the foundation.

Although there can be some challenges in the co-opetition space as the recent Piston-gate showed us, the ultimate winner of these enterprise players being focused on growth of an ecosystem will be the consumer. It is a profound change in our environment where we are seeing open source development gaining massive momentum, and both individual and corporate contributors are driving the growth.

Do you even stack, bro?

Pile of PancakesI pulled that one from the classic “Do you even lift, bro?” meme. It speaks to the message being sent by this type of a foundation coming together, and how the “stack” is becoming very important. Stacking has long been tied to OpenStack given the name, but the reason that OpenStack was so named is because it is just that; it is an Open Stack.

The methodology of using stack infrastructure is the compartmentalized delivery of services which can be separated to “stacks” such as IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service) and PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service).

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Traditional datacenter models are slowly making an exit from the modern architect’s whiteboard. It is definitely a direction change for many, and it will be a slow adoption in the SMB space, but one way or another we will be seeing the shift towards stack-style infrastructure even in the <10 server market before too long in my opinion.

It wasn’t long ago that VMware became a household name and hypervisors have now permeated a significant percentage of datacenters, even down to the SMB customers. In the same way I believe that cloud-style service delivery will become simpler, and more *Stack will become the standard installation. In light of that I’m voting for the change of vCloud to vStack…hey…I should trademark that 😉

So what is the deal with Containers?

The move toward containers is not new. Linux has had containers available for quite some time using LXC and Libvirt, and the concept of sandbox virtualization of apps has existed in many environments. Not to mention the other vendor offerings like Ravello Systems and more that have give us template delivery of containerized virtual servers and virtual application environments.

And of course, there is Docker which has become the darling of the containerized virtualization space lately, and has spurred many others to add support for the format. Packer.io is another great tool that allows the creation of standardized images to be able to be used on multiple environments. We will see a lot of growth, and potentially fragmentation, in this area of development in the coming months. Ultimately, we will find that a widely adopted standard will rise to the top.

Are there too many “container” options?

Tupperware-cupboardOne of the challenges in a burgeoning technology is that there can be a lot of players who enter the space and it can become crowded, especially in the absence of a “standard”.

As the containerized ecosystem matures and gains more adoption, there will be key players that stand out among the many options which will inevitably guide us as we shift towards software abstracted, container delivery of applications and servers.

Join the movement!

With these great moves towards the adoption and development of open standards, we as architects, administrators and application designers will have to take a serious look at where we should be leaning when we look towards near-term and long-term deployment plans. If you do not have a cloud architecture already (private, public, or hybrid), you will most likely see one becoming a part of your IT portfolio in the coming months.

One way or another, this will enter into play in most environments. It may happen with cloud application adoption in the beginning, but once the comfort arises with that, the questions will come as to why our traditional virtual datacenters are not able to be consumed and provisioned in a similar fashion.

If you don’t believe that, you can probably go 5-8 years back and the same statement will be said about virtualization platforms like VMware and Microsoft Hyper-V. Now is the time to get ahead of the shift before it is thrust upon you by your consumers which will leave you and your IT organization scrambling to catch up.

There are lots of options to get started with learning, and I encourage you to reach out to me directly on Twitter (@DiscoPosse) or even by email to eric – at – discoposse.com if you would like to chat on how to introduce stack infrastructure into your portfolio.

A little container fun

Just for those who remember it, I always think of this when I talk about containers. It’s for the old school Sesame Street fans 🙂

DiscoPosse

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3 Comments

  • Trevor Roberts Jr
    February 24, 2014 at 9:31 pm

    Great write-up Eric. It will be interesting to see whether SMB’s start evaluating public PaaS as they consider future infrastructure refreshes. Public PaaS seems to be popular with the startups over here.

    • DiscoPosse
      Eric
      February 24, 2014 at 9:34 pm

      Thanks Trevor!! I really would love to see Cloud Foundry really take hold and allow for the on-prem models to line up with public PaaS. On full cloud architectures we have seen Hybrid become the focus. I think PaaS will go the same way. So many great options opening up for us 🙂

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