Dev/Test Clouds – Part 1

October 19, 2015 § Leave a comment

Dev/Test clouds are often where many organizations start with Cloud.  I’ve seen Cloud provide some big benefits for organizations wanting to improve their software development and testing practices (especially when you look at the ability to provision environments quickly for testing scenarios).

In working with clients, we’ve gotten into some interesting discussions around what are the key differences with Dev/Test clouds vs production clouds.  First, I am a believer that Dev/Test should mirror production as closely as possible.  Sometimes that is possible and sometimes it is not.  These are the common variances I’ve run into:

  1. Production clouds having higher up-time (e.g. think the 5 9’s for availability)
  2. Data in production clouds is usually more sensitive.  We typically leverage obfuscation and data masking to eliminate any data privacy issues in Dev/Test clouds
  3. Dev/Test clouds may not have all the scale out and support all the HA/DR scenarios that production clouds do.
  4. Dev/Test clouds should leverage service virtualization where it makes sense.  (e.g. if you are waiting for off peak hours to test a CICS transactions on the mainframe in your Dev/Test environment, you might want to explore how this could be improved leveraging service virtualization.

Once you’ve setup your Dev/Test Cloud, these are the gotchas to watch out for:

  1. Dependent systems availability (or lack of availability) due to production schedules, security, or team contention
  2. Improper lifecycle management (e.g. teardown) that looks at the complete application lifecycle and speed (e.g. Agile teams (with a large number of iterations) moving through DEV, QA, and production can lead to virtualized application crawl)
  3. Unpredictable demand spikes
  4. Test data validity, obfuscation, and data movement (setup/teardown, etc)
  5. Usage fees with testing 3rd party services

In my next blog, I’ll talk about approaches to handle these gotchas!

Getting Started

October 19, 2015 § Leave a comment

I’ve never been part of a more “disruptive” movement in my 25 years in the industry than Cloud.  (I’m using the term “disruptive” in a mostly positive way).  I’ve already started to see the good, the bad, and sometimes the ugly emerging as I work with clients which I will share (with names hidden to protect the innocent!).

I’m looking forward to learning from my colleagues about their experiences as well.

Understanding Non-core Projects within OpenStack

October 14, 2015 § Leave a comment

OpenStack projects are an important part of the greater OpenStack vision. Projects can be thought of as subcomponents covering various parts of the cloud environment and are known more commonly by names such as nova for compute, neutron for networking, or cinder for block storage. The focus is more about tying together resources from a software level, while vendors such as IBM focus on enabling their infrastructure to be OpenStack compliant. As this is open source, projects follow a self-organized model where a designated Project Team Lead (PTL) seeks to carry out a vision of the project in the sense that complete functionality is delivered. Before I had a chance to take part in an IBM OpenStack Dojo a few weeks back, I had always assumed these projects were tightly coupled meaning that an ideal OpenStack implementation couldn’t have one component without another, but I’m beginning to realize this was incorrect.

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Openstack: Instigating Change

October 6, 2015 § Leave a comment

Last week, I, along with twenty other Cloud Advisors from across the globe were fortunate enough to take part in the IBM Openstack Dojo. Openstack is a collection of open source projects that collectively create a cloud management infrastructure. Overview During this boot camp, IBM provided intense, focused training on understanding, installing and maintaining an open source datacenter installation. The class was challenging and informative and most importantly, it helped me remember what drew me into IT in the first place. More than anything, I wanted to be an instigator of change.

Throughout the training, we explored all aspects of Openstack, which is currently the largest open source community in the world with well over 24,000 contributors. What began as a project between NASA and Rackspace with one project (compute), has quickly grown to over 30 plus projects in just five years. From Cinder and Swift (Block and Object Storage) to Neutron (Networking) all aspects of cloud datacenter are being developed continuously with constant improvements being added every hour. As I sat through each day, I reminisced on my early days as a Linux release committer in the mid-nineties. I remembered feeling that I was part of something greater than myself. However small my contribution was, I knew I was instigating change. The more I thought about this, the more I also realized that this is what brought me to IBM. Since the beginning IBM has employed hundreds of people to work solely within the Openstack community. They work daily with contributors from many different companies and countries to insure open standards are maintained and matured. The benefit of open standards are numerous, but here I would focus on the freedom and flexibility it provides. Freedom of vendor lock-in, freedom to develop infrastructure and solutions on your terms, not another company’s point of view. From these freedoms, you obtain a flexibility that is missing from most industry solutions.

While I seemed to be romanticizing this a bit, it is important to remember, that like other open source projects out there, Openstack requires a solid engineer with high scripting and coding ability to install and maintain. In a world of point and click wizards and countless out of the box feature sets, we often forget the level of detail that goes into creating the configuration files and services that make applications and virtualization work. No pointing, no clicking, just command line and code, where even a single misspelling can cause a log tracing headache for the books. In order to alleviate those headaches, IBM has invested millions into understanding and developing the best methods for Openstack deployment and maintenance. We believe all companies should strive to enhance the way they manage their infrastructure, to embrace open standards and most importantly be free and flexible in your operations. Be instigators for change, we will be right there with you.


Oktoberfest of Things!

October 2, 2015 § Leave a comment

Every year, I look forward to the start of the fall season. It’s one of my favorites for a variety of reason especially Oktoberfest. Oktoberfest is the world’s largest Volksfest (beer festival and traveling fun fair). With more than 6 million people from around the world attending the event every year and large quantities of Oktoberfest Beer consumed, an estimated 7.7 million liters are served during the 16 day festival. That said, we at IBM have been investing a lot of time, resources and energy into the Internet of Things (IoT). It’s exciting to think about as the Internet of Things, Big Data and Cloud Computing have the ability to transform everything at mega events like Oktoberfest from lighting, sanitation, energy, and most importantly beer delivery. These mega events are really just temporary small cities requiring lot’s of planning and real-time analysis. The introduction of IoT enabled bracelets with localization information at mega events this year has also improve crowd management improving security creating the best experience for everyone. I also understand at Oktoberfest some brilliant inventors have developed beer tables and coasters that utilize sensors to track the number of beer mug lifts and fill levels alerting waiters just in time for the next (IoT) beverage. Cheers!

Sports Enhancing IoT Services

October 1, 2015 § Leave a comment

It’s estimated the market for wearable electronic devices, along with apps and services for sports fitness and personal health, is worth $1.6 billion worldwide in 2015. This market category is expected to rise to $5 billion in 2016 with companies incorporating sensors into sportswear, casual apparel, shoes, balls, rackets, clubs, goggles and helmets. Collecting and analyzing all this exogenous data from these intelligent personal devices and accessories presents a huge opportunity for IBM Cloud, Big Data, Watson and Watson Health for the development of Cognitive Coaches and Watson Personalized Services. One prominent sportswear company is currently interacting with 120 million users. Their users logged 100 million unique workouts entries in January of 2015 alone, making them uniquely positioned to transform the new digital consumer, athlete, and team sport categories. In the near future, we will begin to see these companies and new start-ups introduce real-time pattern-of-performance (PoP) services for individuals powered by next generation Apps developed on IBM Bluemix with IBM Watson APIs.

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