Rahul Chitale

"Cloud Sensibilities "

Rahul Chitale
Director Cloud Services
Rahul has a strong Practitioner Mindset having spent around 12 years in various Consulting roles. Rahul was the co-founding member of Microsoft Global Delivery based out of Hyderabad. As part of his Microsoft Consulting Tenure, Rahul has had a pivotal role in key marquee G2C implementations such as Karnataka Bhoomi & Bangalore One, Punjab Sukhmani and AP eSeva projects – the frontrunners to NeGP. Rahul is emphatic about the impact which the Cloud can have in India. He is working with various members of the Industry and Public Sector to make real many Cloud based transformational scenarios

IaaS or Infrastructure as a Service has been the harbinger of the Cloud for some time now. And for good reason. Its basic sensibility appeals to the Administrator who has got war hardened over time supporting his/her Cast Iron & Steel ERP and Forms based applications. Talk about the Cloud with these veterans and an invariable scowl comes to their faces. And with good reason - its like talking about R & B music to a Rock/ Woodstock Crowd.

Talk to the CIO who has grown up the hard way, and the most popular perception of Cloud is that its not too much different than Co-location/ Hosting++. Incidentally, drill deeper into the ++ it isn't all that clear how it is better either.

Its critical to figure the fitment for IaaS sitting inside an Enterprise.  To help understand why, lets rewind back a couple of decades where computing power was scare and  the code was  so optimized that it looked like Assembly Code (and it was in most cases!). This design discipline carried over to a large extent into the monolithic Apps whose design remains largely unchanged (dont even get me started on SOA here) over the last few decades.

And here is the where the penny drops. Some of those apps are just very well written - after all, how many people can claim to understand optimization  or even successfully optimize a ERP implementation (except for mucking about with Database & Windows level tweaks). This seeming lack of an Industry around arguably what still runs much of Enterprise is mainly due to the fact that many of these Apps were just written darn well. Look up a SAP design and patterns play out like Poems. The apps in most of the 80s and 90s continued to be written the old way (read as the hard way).

Consequence for us today? Optimization or Efficiency gain efforts with IaaS will likely go waste. Most of these apps also had legacy host architecture thus making their design ports onto modern multi - core Architecture pretty efficient. Doubt it? Try porting your favorite stable App you have run for decades on a Virtualization environment. Odds are that the efficiency gains what the Sales guys told you may not pan out that way.

So, why do it? Well, there might not be much gains on the Efficiency front via Compute, Memory and others. But, and this is a BIG but, are we seeking the right degree of efficiency from all that automation, self-service and the latest and greatest management skills? The key issue here is that most Operations teams have undercut themselves and limited their involvement to Infrastructure Operations. If you know IT Ops guys, who also manage and monitor Apps, they deserve a pat on the back.

Thus, while the average enterprise gets sold on the gold plated vision of IaaS with the unification via Data center Automation, nifty Self-service portals, that dream usually comes to squat. Ever seen SAP user management done through a self-service portal? Or for that matter, peeking at your favorite CRM app performance using your hardy Operations Management Tool. I suspect not. So there you have it. While its possible with some extra effort to get that last drop out via your Private Cloud/ IaaS investment, most Private Cloud projects will end up dropping the finer print, and will be happy ever after dishing out VMs, file shares, Directory Users and the like.

This is baloney - This has to change. There are a few critical reasons for this - Firstly, Private Cloud adoption will lose momentum with most customers only getting minimal efficiency gains through Virtualization and will continue to ignore the true Datacenter Optimization gains through true nuts and bolts integration with your Enterprise Apps. Secondly and most critically, this is only the beginning. PaaS (Platform as a Service) is coming soon into the Enterprise - more on this in a moment.  Third, you completely lose out modelling your system in Entirety - you either just model the environment or model the App. But who will model the entire System?

Now what does this PaaS bit mean? Over the last decade or two, most IT groups have very convenient splintered into two groups - the developers and the IT Pros (or Operations guys). Its a pretty simple - its the age old "I do what I understand and you do what you think you know" working arrangement due to which inefficiency creeps in. Need Load Balancing - toss it to the Ops guys. Production Repro issue - call in the dev, and the list goes on. We have built an incredibly inefficient role taxonomy in the IT Industry due to this.

Now, as PaaS comes into the Enterprise, Enterprises who haven't yet fully adopted to this philosophy of an integrated Application + Infrastructure operating environment are in for a bit of a shock. With PaaS coming in, much of the work in the trenches - configuration, OS tweaks, Load Balancing etc. will get radically simplified and eliminated for many classes of workloads. We are moving to a new world where it will be as easy to get a Elastic Application on premise as it is possible today on Public Cloud PaaS platforms. We will be covering PaaS in some detail in a following article.

Holistic System Modelling is also a very interesting area of convergence. This has been referred to as Dynamic Systems Initiative by Microsoft and by other names by other companies. The principal being that it should be possible to model the operating environment of the Application and the Infrastructure completely at design time. In theory, this radically simplifies Production Simulation, Deployment and Potentially Compatibility and Inconsistency issues. Well examine this concept in more detail in the next article.

Meanwhile, get ready for the Cloud. That means both the developer and the IT pro crowd. This is a change which is going to hit everyone's world.