You Have the Wrong Idea About Cloud If… by James Kelly

This year has been marked by a lot of cloud evangelism to our customers, partners and field, but what I frequently find is that in evangelizing cloud and our corresponding products, I am talking about what cloud is not. In the purist sense of “cloud,” I talk about cloud as 3rd-generation apps and platforms: the collective data center as the computer. For cloud-native apps and stacks, nothing need be server oriented anymore.

I was maintaining this summary list of the right and wrong ideas about cloud in my Google Keep notes, but I have decided to turn it into a blog: shared, referenceable, crowd sourced - yes please, add what I’m surely forgetting to the comments below.

As I said above, I’m often describing what cloud is NOT, and hand in hand with that go the wrong ideas about cloud.

You Have the Wrong Idea About Cloud If…

  1. You want better economics without change – A common mistake is thinking that you can replace a few components with the software the cloud pioneers are using and you instantly save money. “OpenStack is not a cheaper VMware,” is a good one to repeat over and over to anyone falling into this trap, but you can generalize this advice too. If you don’t get your head around the fact that cloud is a whole new IT paradigm and 3rd-gen cloud platforms are the epitome of that, then you’re missing the point.
  2. You want better economics from open source – Similar to the last point. This is a common mistake. For most cloud builders, you’re still going to need a vendor backing the OSS components, particularly mission-critical components like orchestrations systems such as Openstack or Kubernetes, and many Enterprises will opt for support in smaller components as well like for Linux, config automation, databases, troubleshooting tools, logging, monitoring, billing, analytics, etc. The point is that for production systems, you’ll probably want a lot of vendor support or support from an integrator, and while you may have a lot less lock-in, and more scale, there is still a substantial investment to build and support a stack these days. You can get better economics from cloud, but not strictly because you choose open source.
  3. You think open source software is DIY – If you’ve just read the previous point, you know vendors support OSS and many integrators have businesses around OSS components. Open source can be DIY, but there are often a plethora of sourcing options for these that offer fully turnkey deployments, some even with the hardware as well. Choosing open sourced software, you get all the benefit of traditional support, plus the benefit of a community that can support you and offer you additional services and tangential products or customizations. It’s all upside, in general, but caveat emptor: that doesn’t mean you can adopt OSS willy-nilly. Today there are a lot of competing/overlapping projects and communities to carefully choose from. Many vendors will partially partake in some project, which is very different than productizing the core open source software itself.
  4. You think cloud is less secure – Security doesn’t come your 4 walls. Public clouds have a lot of security baked in because they have had to thanks to being huge attack targets. They arguably had the smartest security talent design and validate it. When it comes to private cloud you have more security vendors (a lot of startups) providing you solutions than ever before. Microservices are inherently more secure by design when microsegmented into lightweight containers and virtual networks as well. A breach’s impact is getting ever smaller and unlikely if you follow 3rd-gen cloud architecture and employ the tools at your disposal.
  5. You think the chasm is too wide a jump to cloud for your IT dept. – Today it is entirely possible to federate networking and data across your 2nd- and 3rd-generation platforms, and technology like Docker have really leveled the hybrid cloud playing field for compute as a sweet spot between IaaS and PaaS.
  6. Your “Hybrid IT” strategy is to do everything – Sure there is a right tool for every job, but every good CIO values standardization and consolidation. The benefit of those principles hasn’t changed. You need to exercise restraint in choosing/building a 3rd-gen cloud stack, and get to something that can be as homogenous as possible across multiple DCs, public and private, and let you write once and run anywhere for apps and devops.
  7. Shiny new object syndrome – If what you have today is working fine, refrain from wasting a lot of energy on the new shiny object. Run IT like a business and justify value in change.
  8. You think cloud will solve all your problems – You'll just have better ones, and have to be even smarter and more resourceful to solve them.

You Have the Right Idea About Cloud If…

  1. You need better/newer/choice technology – Just like if you’re running Android version X and the app you want is only available or supported on >X, you need to upgrade; or you’re running iOS and the app you want is on Android, you need to change. Likewise, apps/tools/middleware/etc. can be a good impetus to move/upgrade to cloud too. The case with a lot of cloud software is such that a lot of open source tools are made to work well with other open source systems, and 3rd-gen cloud systems and tools are primarily open source. Maybe it’s a choice middleware platform, or a big data system, or a config automation tool, but if you find yourself needing software from some Apache project, Hashi Corp, or some popular open source project, chances are it probably won’t work on or work too well with your legacy Microsoft, VMware platforms, but I bet you can find good integrations with OpenStack, Docker, or some public cloud.
  2. You need better economics – With respect to public cloud you get to choose opex over capex which is often preferred. With respect to building your own private cloud stack you build smarter cloud-native applications and infrastructure layers that often let you spend less on the proprietary and expensive infrastructure solutions that were previously relied on to scale and provide HA. As above, that’s not to say openness directly derives better economics. The model of a smarter, more automated stack should help you do that, along with scale-out applications that provide a better and cheaper way to get scale, performance and HA. Better economics also comes from deriving more new value faster, which is a byproduct of innovation agility (see below).
  3. You need scale – Hopefully this one is pretty obvious. The Internet giants pioneered 3rd-gen cloud stacks because it was the only way to scale their apps. 3rd-gen cloud platforms let you manage more with less. This smarter architecture is akin to using a lever instead of more force.
  4. You need innovation agility– 3rd-gen cloud platforms cater to the developer and the application. The applications are elastic and portable across data center resources and geographies to suit the business. The developers have more conducive environments for CI and CD, and with Docker containers they have a level playing field of packaging, distributing, and running their app with all its dependencies. With PaaS and middleware platforms there’s often more ease and agility, but there is some degree of total flexibility traded. In any case with 3rd-gen cloud, time to market and to any necessary pivots is greatly reduced as compared to traditional siloed DCs and even evolving SDDCs. Avenues for business, process and product innovation are all amplified.
  5. You have a mandate for openness – This is sort of a corollary from needing IT agility (which should be a consequence of needing business agility). The general allergy to IT lock-in is usually helped by the great degree of open source projects and open standards bodies/projects focused on making 3rd-gen cloud stack components clearly defined and interoperable. The best clouds are inspired by the same principles of as UNIX components: small, simple, reuseable, composable parts with clean interfaces, and as few dependencies as possible.
  6. You have no technical debt / You are building new – If you are a startup you should use SaaS for your staple IT applications and otherwise start from scratch with modern IT cloud-native apps and cloud. New infrastructure for new apps, dev/test, etc. is a green-field, and you should be growing with modern choices.
  7. You want to attract new IT talent – Another gimme. Legacy technology is an oxymoron because technologist and technicians alike love what is novel and remarkable.
  8. You want to get teams smaller toward DevOps – Sure, on cloud, you can do more with less, including fewer people if you’re operating at massive scale, but on any scale the main ”people” benefit is actually a better-working well-oiled IT team culture. Some companies’ idea of DevOps is no change at all – maybe Dev meets with Ops every month – dev talks to ops :/ A 3rd-gen cloud stack forces the DevOps culture of teams working together by means of programming and debugging each others’ subsystems in times of development, testing, troubleshooting, and operations. Much like the microservices architecture, devops and 3rd-gen cloud caters to small nimble teams if you follow the masters like the internet giants’ two-pizzas rule.

Again… please, add what I’m surely forgetting to the comments below.

This blog was originally posted on the Juniper Networks blog.

Life in the City of Lights and Love by James Kelly

A sunny day in the Jardin de Luxembourg park

A sunny day in the Jardin de Luxembourg park

Utterly startled, I suddenly darted my head and ears up like a rabbit. I was standing shoulder to shoulder aboard Le Metro, and while cramming onto the subway car, unbeknownst to me this morning, I’d been tailgated by a tattered Frenchman bearing an accordion. Without warning the accordion inhaled and then bellowed out a chord as he began to serenade us with old French classics. Phew! I thought for a second there something had gotten caught in the doors behind me, impatient as they are. Another “quelle surprise” in Paris!

It has been one month today since the hustle and bustle of packing up my Silicon Valley apartment, and it is just over one more month before I return. Living and working in Europe, I am refinding my French (petit à petit), and rediscovering all of the marvels of the culture here. When I first visited Europe in 1999, I spent a year living in Belgium (and traveling), and it taught me as much about my home country as it did about abroad. This trip with my girlfriend Linh has afforded me the chance to really soak up the culture again, discover the city life in grand Paris from a petit flat, and appreciate a different lifestyle by trying it on.

Life in Paris is pretty sweet, taking life one café or glass of wine at a time, not really feeling the time crunch of a vacation. On more than one occasion already I have walked up to a famous sight only to find a big queue, and turned right back around and said, "let’s come back another day." A luxury tourists generally cannot afford. I’ve been to Paris enough already anyway to be seeing a lot of the big sights for the second time, and some of the things that didn’t previously make it onto the list are stunning discoveries, like Monet’s Nympheas (Water Lilies) in Musée l’Orangerie – A smaller museum I hadn’t taken note of before that is tucked into the southwest corner of the Jardin Tuilleries park. It features two large oval rooms each dedicated to a cycle of 4 very long paintings lining its walls, done by Claude Monet in the last 30 years of his life.

Just one of the 8 Monet "Water Lilies" paintings I mentioned

Just one of the 8 Monet "Water Lilies" paintings I mentioned

A few more memorable Paris highlights so far:

  • One that keeps coming up: seeing the Seine river and the Notre Dame Cathedral all lit up at night truly evokes the essence of the city of lights. Luckily we live at Place Maubert, so we literally see the Notre Dame down the street every time we go out.
  • Morning runs along the Seine’s left bank. Of course the buildings are great, but so is the crisp October air and bright fall-colored leaves shining in the sun.
  • “Goutez, goutez!” the merchant said, telling us to taste his fresh strawberries at the farmer's market that pops up 3 times a week in the Place Maubert – this location has blown away our expectations! It simply has everything, from ethnic to organics: it has shops of all kinds lest we are between market days.
  • Getting a biscuit or chocolate with my café
  • Walking everywhere
  • Wearing a scarf (Of course that’s not really part of my fashion of functional habits in California)

PS. You can see a lot more photos on Facebook in our shared album
PPS. I haven't been in Paris the whole time. I spent a little bit of time in Jersey, the French Riviera and then in Provence.

Open Sourcing Is Human Nature by James Kelly

Yesterday was Earth Day. It’s a time when we awe at our world, the good and the bad. I get the feeling that with every passing year Earth Day grows in importance. Maybe it is all those Netflix documentaries I've consumed starting from “An Inconvenient Truth” and on down the list, maybe it is the yogi in me, or maybe it is just plain to see that Mother Nature is wounded and begging us to look beyond the economy to the ecology of our habitat, our impact on it, and each other. Dr. David Suzuki says, our collective egos get caught up in progress for progress’s sake, creating false externalities (boundaries) on our impacts, instead of remembering that everything is connected (I had a another beautiful reminder of this when I recently re-watched Avatar).

Instead of thinking about changing lightbulbs this week or thinking about what to cut out, I asked myself, “How I can better the world using my own talents and passions?” Earth Day seems like the perfect opportunity to reflect.

Because I've been thinking about an article on technology to kick-off my revamped blog here, when yesterday by odd coincidence an idea sparked in an unlikely reflection on nature, I jumped on it...

Technology and nature? Yes! A software-focused technologist by vocation, yesterday, my above train of thought collided with my thinking on open source…

For those friends that need the background… Defn Open Source: In production and development, open source as a development model promotes universal access via a free license to a product's design or blueprint, and universal redistribution of that design or blueprint, including subsequent improvements to it by anyone.

Yesterday, I was reviewing the newly published 2015 Future of Open Source Study. (Even if you’re not in high-tech like I am, I bet you have heard of open source software like Android, Linux/Unix, and maybe WordPress, SugarCRM and OpenStack to name-drop some prominent examples and of late Microsoft is getting into it too.) I was reviewing the study when I began to ponder how the growing momentum in the open source model that I know so well for software like the above examples can be applied to answer my question in general… how the future of open source (and my advocacy for it) is important for the future of the Earth and our lives here. Could open source even be adopted beyond the realm of software?

I didn't have to consider that for long before I realized…. Of course! Open source has applications beyond software. Humans have long been openly sharing things like education, cooking recipes, stories and books in libraries, and much more (hello! the wheel). However, more importantly I realized that open source is in our nature, aligning with a recurring pattern of successful species and group behavior and decision making…Birds flock together, fish swim in schools together, animals pack together. In all cases science has shown that group consensus decision making and a democratic model is present, and it leads to the success of a species and the good of the whole. This wisdom through successful trials has gotten baked into our DNA.

Have we lost touch with our nature?

So why isn’t open source always the default model? Have we lost touch with our nature? I think so. I think just like we have wounded the Earth, not realizing it is our very mother, we are sometimes equally delusional in believing that the closed competitive structures we create are real.

Obviously there are the supporters of closed and proprietary source that point to creating value for “the shareholders” (almost as vague an excuse and unreal an entity as “the economy”). Also there are proponents in our unconsciously capitalistic culture that see open source tradeoffs through a different colored lens, the lens of business. Peter Levine an advocate and experienced open source software project founder himself, describes “the success or failure of open source is not the software itself, but in the underlying business model.” However, this view taints the way to look at the open source model in general, by tying and measuring it in economic impact and corporate winning.

Having moved south from Canada to Silicon Valley and America 5 years ago, I know too well the fast culture of capitalism, corporations, and its demand for consumerism and profit. A problem that is at the root of many other problems as well examined in "Capital in the 21st Century" (a must-read on inequality, capital, and democracy) and the easier-to-digest documentary “I Am” where Tom Shadyac asks, “What’s wrong (and right) with the world and what we can do about it?”

Summarizing the lessons of “I Am” and my own life learnings in democracy, holistic health, philosophy, yoga... one detriment to society at large is the idea that competition is of great value. This stems from the ego of course and the delusion of separateness, but it was further propagated by well-touting “survival of the fittest” when in fact Darwin’s book showed that to be of little value.

What is of value? What is right about the world? What is worth our awe? It turns out that care, compassion, and above all collaboration and cooperation are responsible for the success of species…including us, humans. We aren't the biggest, strongest, fastest… but we are highly cooperative. We are born because of communities and into communities. As Desmond Tutu put it, “We are, because we belong.”

Open source in service of cooperation is utterly ingrained in human kind’s most basic nature.

If we believe this and in a world where we and everything are all connected—The universe’s “Internet of EveryThing”—as most spiritual paths teach and even science sees in GCP and quantum physics, what can we conclude about open source? It seems obvious to me that it aligns with the wisdom proven out in the evolution of life. Open source in service of cooperation is utterly ingrained in human kind’s most basic nature.

In a culture of innovation built around competitive corporations, open sourcing at very least hedges us against our collective corporate egos. At best, it can introduce a community's sense of greater meaning, humanity, heart, love, and compassion into the business place and across them. I am reminded of playing hockey as a kid. My dad used to coach me and his teams to play for fun, not to win. Competition was (is) a game. It has a lot of benefits like a score to measure oneself against and improve, but in the end we're all out on the ice (on this Earth) to enjoy experiencing growth through different perspectives, or the duality of life. A nice corollary is that when we intended to have fun, we also improved and often won (did our best work).

Having used, developed and evangelized open source software, I always had an altruistic feeling that it was the right thing to do for many reasons. But now I see beyond just the practical and business reasons. In a world seeking and needing more consciousness, the open source model aligns with democracy, citizenship, and the natural order of things.

In software and high-tech at large, there has been rising strength in open source projects and communities. It is nearing a watershed moment as the preferred way to collaborate on and use technology, not just in software but also in hardware with projects like the Open Compute Project (OCP).

Let’s make future Earth Days and everyday day closer to a global consciousness, not simply a matter of LED bulbs and reducing, but also being conscious about what we are adding and choosing. For me that is a passion and advocacy for the open source movements. I encourage you to partake if you can, and if not, simply use them (vote with your wallet). There are all kinds of documented practical reasons, but now you have one more!

Over the bottom half of this decade we'll see open source change the technology industry, and I can't wait to see what other industries will tap into our nature and collaborate out in the open.