What’s in Microsoft Azure Stack

Some BOM’ing of Azure Stack:

Azure Stack is made of two basic components, the underlying infrastructure that customers purchase from one of Microsoft’s certified partners (initially Dell EMC, HPE and Lenovo) and software that is licensed from Microsoft.The software includes basic IaaS functions that make up a cloud, such as virtual machines, storage and virtual networking. Azure Stack includes some platform-as-a-service (PaaS) application-development features including the Azure Container Service and Microsoft’s Azure Functions serverless computing software, plus MySQL and SQL Server support. It comes with Azure Active Directory for user authentication.Customers also have access to a wide range of third-party apps from the Azure Marketplace, including OS images from companies like Red Hat and SuSE, and templates that can be installed to run programs like Cloud Foundry, Kubernetes and Mesosphere.On the hardware side, Azure Stack runs on a hyperconverged infrastructure stack that Microsoft and its hardware vendors have certified. The smallest production-level Azure Stack deployment is a four-server rack with three physical switches and a lifecycle management server host. Individual racks can scale up to 12 servers, and eventually, multiple racks can be scaled together. Dell EMC, HPE and Lenovo are initial launch partners. Cisco plans to offer a certified Azure Stack platform based on its UCS hardware line by the end of 2017 and Huawei will roll out Azure Stack support by the end of 2018.IDC Data Center Networking Research Analyst Brad Casemore says he believes customers will need to run at least a 10 Gigabit Ethernet cabling with dual-port mixing. Converged network interface cards, support for BGP and data center bridging are important too. Microsoft estimates that a full-sized, 12-rack server unit of Azure Stack can supply about 400 virtual machines with 2 CPUs and 7 GB of RAM, with resiliency.

And Lydia explains the “people want private cloud ¯_(ツ)_/¯” angle:

“This is definitely a plus in the Microsoft portfolio,” says Gartner VP and Distinguished Analyst Lydia Leong, but she says it’s not right for every customer. “I don’t think this is a fundamental game-changer in the dynamics of the IaaS market,” she notes, but “this is going to be another thing to compel Microsoft-centric organizations to use Azure.”

Leong expects this could be beneficial for customers who want to use Azure but some reason such as regulations, data sensitivity, or location of data prevents them from using the public cloud. If a customer has sensitive data they’re not willing to put in the public cloud, they could deploy Azure Stack behind their firewall to process data, then relatively easily interact with applications and data in the public cloud.

Source: “Azure Stack: Microsoft’s private-cloud platform and what IT pros need to know about it,” Brandon Butler

AWS’s private cloud stuff to day, plus VMware

Good round-up of AWS’s private cloud stuff:

  • AWS added on-premises support to its CodeDeploy continuous-delivery service in 2015.
  • AWS introduced the Snowball storage server companies could use to copy data and then ship it to the cloud in 2015.
  • AWS added on-premises support to its EC2 Run Command tool for running shell scripts on many machines at once in 2016.
  • AWS unveiled the Snowmobile truck for copying even larger supplies of data and then hauling it off to Amazon in 2016.
  • This past November AWS released a container image of its Amazon Linux server operating system for use on corporate servers.

Source: AWS talking with VMware about building on-premises software: report

Rackspace partners with Pivotal to launch managed services for Cloud Foundry

“Managed Pivotal Cloud Foundry is Rackspace’s first step into the managed platform space, as we move up the stack to solutions that customers want our help with,” wrote Brannon Lacey, vice president of applications and platforms at Rackspace, in today’s announcement. “It is a solution that helps customers get up and running on Pivotal Cloud Foundry quickly and stay up and running, with operational support and proactive monitoring. This way, in-house teams can focus on innovation and getting out to market quickly while Rackspace handles the backend.”

Source: Rackspace partners with Pivotal to launch managed services for Cloud Foundry, Frederic Lardinois, TechCrunch

Twitter’s video deals mean it’s giving up on business model innovation

So says Ben Thompson in his newsletter today:

This is why Twitter’s increased focus on securing these video deals feels like such an admission of failure: the company is basically admitting that, despite the fact it contains some of the best content — given to it for free — in the world, it simply can’t figure out how to make that into a business, so instead it is (presumably) paying to create content that it can monetize more easily. The Bloomberg deal, which was first reported on Sunday, is particularly poignant on this point: Twitter is (again, presumably) paying for content about business and financial markets even as the most valuable business and financial market information is being posted for free on Twitter. That the company cannot build a business on that fact is certainly a disappointment.

You’ll have to subscribe to read the rest. For $100 a year, it’s worth it.

Meanwhile, some stats from Sara Fischer at Axios:

In total, Twitter has closed over 40 live stream partnerships around the world with sports leagues, media companies, etc. The company increased live programming by 60% last quarter and aired roughly 800 hours of live content reaching 45 million viewers. Of those hours, 51% were sports, 35% were news and politics, and 14% were entertainment. Above all, Twitter says 55% of its unique viewers are under the age of 25, a stat that directly competes with Snapchat’s coveted millennial demographic.

There’s also an extensive list of the video partnerships and shows to be broadcast in Twitter.

The news from Docker-land, plus, the money being fought over – Notebook

With DockerCon this week, there’s no end of Docker quotables and items. Here’s my collection

General momentum

Once landed in an account, Docker usage grows their CEO says:

There has also been expansion within customers, with organizations that start with Docker expanding their usage on average by five times within six months

Way back in 2015, the (now annual?) DataDog study of Docker usage among their customers said that 2/3 of companies that try Docker adopt it. Which is all to say: once it gets in, it spreads.

Moby

A toolkit for putting together docker stacks:

In essence, Moby is the build system that creates Docker Community Edition, which is akin to Fedora, and Docker Enterprise is derived from Moby and is akin to Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Link

People got all freaked out. I’d even say “freaked the fuck out.” Competitors, of course, gloated, if only in silence. Criticism of handling the announcement aside (ideally, you wouldn’t like to kick up a stink), I feel like it was more like a tempest in a teapot.

Docker momentum/penetration and types of applications/workloads

Global 2000 customers have somewhere on the order of thousands to tens of thousands of applications, and across these major firms, less than 5 percent of the applications have been containerized so far. While somewhere between 5 percent and 10 percent of the applications that are being containerized are net-new, microservices-style applications that everyone is talking about all the time, the other 90 percent to 95 percent are just lifting and shifting legacy applications from bare metal or virtual machines to containers. Link

VMware threat…or just legacy gobbling?

Docker bounces back and forth between “replacement for VMware” and “a different thing, so don’t worry about VMware.” In this round of Docker news, there’s been some strong pull towards the “replacement for VMware” camp. To be fair, it’s more like doing both:

In general, says Johnston, customers who move from bare metal or VMs to Docker containers can provision, scale, and deploy applications up to 75 percent faster, and those moving from bare metal to containers can save 50 percent on compute and those who are moving from VMs will save around 25 percent. Link

This might also come from the obvious move to start gobbling up legacy (more accurately “existing”) applications. Here, Docker had two customer reference:

Northern Trust, a leading international financial services company, experienced  deployment times that were 4X faster and noted a 2X improvement in infrastructure utilization

And, Microsoft IT:

Microsoft is not only a partner in this program; their IT organization is also a beta customer.  Microsoft IT increased app density 4X with zero impact to performance and were able to reduce their infrastructure costs by a third.

There was also a story of Visa using Docker:

Kocherlakota said Visa is aiming to move as many workloads at it can to the container model to help improve overall efficiency.

See more on this legacy migration stuff and the program with Avanade, Cisco, HP, and Microsoft from Docker’s Scott Johnson.

Major vendors

Other tech companies are often cautious about working with Docker. They’re not really certain about how it helps or threatens their position in the IT stack and, therefore, their ability to sell higher profit margin products and services. No one wants to become the x86 manufacturer of the cloud (read: low margin, commodity).

I’ve noticed this cautiousness slightly melting as more and more vendors are at least putting their stuff in Docker images and, on the public cloud front, supporting the use of Docker. My company, Pivotal, ingests Docker images.

A brief whack at why Microsoft cares, from Christopher Tozzi:

Although there remains work to do to get Docker on Windows ready for prime time, the platform will be important in helping Windows Server stay as nimble as Linux environments in hosting the workloads of the future…. Microsoft’s interest in Docker may seem strange. Microsoft already offers traditional virtual machine products, most notably Hyper-V. In some respects, Docker containers compete with virtual machine platforms…. But that’s not necessarily the case. Depending on how they’re used, containers can complement virtual machines, rather than replace them. If you use virtual machines to host the environment in which Docker runs, your Docker environment becomes more scalable and portable than it would be if it ran on bare metal. That’s likely the type of use case Microsoft envisions for containers on Windows.

More from Nick Martin on Microsoft and Docker.

Oracle bundling middleware in Docker containers:

Oracle becomes the latest enterprise IT vendor to jump on the Docker container bandwagon as it seeks to expand its reach in the public cloud market. Among the container-based application, middleware and development tools made available on the container platform are Oracle’s MySQL database and its WebLogic server. Those tools are in addition to the more than 100 images of Oracle products already available on Docker Hub, its cloud-based image registry.

So, what’s going on here? Staking a claim on The New Stack

I’m often asked to explain all the various cloud stacks, to help Pivotal buyers sort out what CaaS, PaaS, cloud-native, and “cloud strategy” means. They’re trying to figure out their planning for building out new IT, for “doing DevOps.” It’s a mess out there w/r/t to figuring all this out if you’re not a vendor or analyst who’s steeped in this shoggoth every day.

In all the Docker, container, and cloud-native wars, the revenue battle for vendors is mostly about two things:

  1. The pool of money in simply migrating the VMware workload to a new, more efficient layer, hence the ongoing attention to “the VMware threat” that Docker poses). I’m not sure how big this market is because, as a disruptive shift (cf. Linux vs. UNIX vs. Windows vs. z) part of it is reducing the overall spend through lower prices and more efficient usage. But, the existing virtualization market is best described as “fucking huge.”
  2. Fighting over who “owns” (and therefore collects the most profit from) the stack that companies are using to build and run their software. By my estimate, this is something like around a $20-25bn market in the future. You can see a Spanish Civil War like precursor going on in the Java application server market; it’s spreading to a “World War” with respect to all custom software stacks.

On that second point, here’s my latest attempt to describe how things are shaking out category/definition wise:

Of all the SPI cloud categories, PaaS is the most problematic place as all us vendors hate the PaaS term and are trying to re-define what it means. I would break PaaS into two categories currently: (1.) container orchestration, and, (2.) cloud platform.

Container orchestration takes an IaaS and manages the installation and configuration of container images on your new cloud. By “images” here, I mean that you’ve chosen to put your software (probably custom written software, not packaged software) into containers (or the delegated way we do it with buildpacks in CF), specified how all the different nodes are wired together with all the ACLs and configuration, and then given it over to the orchestration software to deploy those containers, set the configuration, and do the ongoing health-checks/remediation.

Ideally, the orchestration platform should also have “day 2” tools to help you monitor and manager (“fix”) problems that happen in production. I assume things like kubernetes, the Docker/Moby constellation of things, Mesosphere, etc. fit here.

People are obsessed with container orchestration now and it’s pretty much all anyone talks about. I think all this is what’s becoming known as “CaaS” – Containers as a Service.

(On this next section, I’m extremely monetarily biased, of course:) A cloud platform either has or depends on an orchestration layer, but adds in integrated middle-ware, ALM tools (from basics like “cf push”, and an overall programming and deployment model with all the tools and enforcements. Heroku is the classic example here in public cloud, and now Cloud Foundry (CF) has taken over this model in public and private cloud, the second (it seems) where most of the usage and money is, at least in the enterprise space. I’d argue, that CF is the enterprise market-leader (by revenue at least, but increasingly penetration in the F500 – while Pivotal has impressive numbers, throw in the other CF distros and it’s even larger, no doubt); at the very least, “the highest growth and in enterprise production usage.” That all depends how you slice it, and of course my slicing favors me.

A cloud platform “pulls together” everything into a fully working “cloud” that deploy and provisions the servers, builds/maintains/deploys the containers, takes care of your networking configuration and concerns (inc. firewalls, etc.), and configs/manages all the middleware needed (e.g. “I want a database” means you just ask for it, instead of having to configure it and make container images of it and specify how it all works together).

The end goal of a cloud platform is the original end-goal of a PaaS: developers don’t have to “setup” any of the infrastructure or, really, middleware (databases, queues, etc.) that they use: they just write the “business logic” of their applications.

All this standardization is technically “restrictive” (developers can’t just install anything they download off the Internet, it has to be integrated into the platform). This is why we often call this model “opinionated,” but it follows the same contract/promises model that Google SREs follow: we promise we can support your applications in production if you use only the things we support, otherwise it’s all on you.

However, the benefit of such opinions is a huge jump in productivity as we see at all our customers: one Pivotal customer manages 1,000+ applications (all angles toward very frequent, DevOps-style releases for fast feedback loops and all that small batch stuff) with just 4 PCF operations staff, etc.

Our DIY white paper makes the case that snow-flaking this all out is a bad idea. At the very least, if you build your own platform, you should try to just have one used organization wide.

In comparing CaaS and cloud platform, the key distinction to me is that a cloud platform bundles and integrates together all your middleware and “services” frameworks. For example, if you want to do microservices with all the bulk-heads and such, that functionality should be built into the cloud platform – you should have to go read-up how to set most of that up. PCF, of course, has Spring Cloud and more for that. All of the systems management tools (thing used in production to detect and fix problems) should also be built in, or the cloud platform should be instrumented so deeply that third party tools can do the managing as well.

Now, these two categories are likely to converge, and then the discussion will just be which cloud platforms are more featureful and better. It’ll be like battling Java application servers.

I haven’t made one of my own “burger” stacks of all this in a long time, but I think (again, highly biased) the ones we use for PCF are pretty good:

More

In case you don’t know, working at Pivotal, I obviously have a stake in how all this turns out, so I’m biased on multiple angles of the above whether I want to be or not. 

The first wave of IBM/Apple enterprise iOS apps

A good looking list from the press release:

Plan Flight (Travel and Transportation) addresses the major expense of all airlines — fuel — permitting pilots to view flight schedules, flight plans, and crew manifests ahead of time, report issues in-flight to ground crews, and make more informed decisions about discretionary fuel.

Passenger+ (Travel and Transportation) empowers flight crews to offer an unmatched level of personalized services to passengers in-flight – including special offers, re-booking, and baggage information.

Advise & Grow (Banking and Financial Markets) puts bankers on premise with their small business clients, with secure authorization to access client profiles and competitive analyses, gather analytics-driven insights to make personalized recommendations, and complete secure transactions.

Trusted Advice (Banking and Financial Markets) allows advisors to access and manage client portfolios, gain insight from powerful predictive analytics — in the client’s kitchen or at the local coffee shop, rather than the advisor’s office — with full ability to test recommendations with sophisticated modeling tools all the way to complete, secure transactions.

Retention (Insurance) empowers agents with access to customers’ profiles and history, including an analytics-driven retention risk score as well as smart alerts, reminders, and recommendations on next best steps and facilitation of key transactions like collection of e-signatures and premiums.

Case Advice (Government) addresses the issue of workload and support among caseworkers who are making critical decisions, one family or situation at a time, on the go. The solution adjusts case priorities based on real-time analytics-driven insights, and assesses risk based on predictive analysis.

Incident Aware (Government) converts an iPhone into a vital crime prevention asset, presenting law enforcement officers with real-time access to maps and video-feeds of incident locations; information about victim status, escalation risk, and crime history; and improved ability to call for back-up and supporting services.

Sales Assist (Retail) enables associates to connect with customer profiles, make suggestions based on previous purchases and current selections, check inventory, locate items in-store, and ship out-of-store items.

Pick & Pack (Retail) combines proximity-based technology with back-end inventory systems for transformed order fulfillment.

Expert Tech (Telecommunications) taps into native iOS capabilities including FaceTime for easy access to expertise and location services for route optimization to deliver superior on-site service, more effective issue resolution and productivity as well as improved customer satisfaction.

A few comments:

  • These are all for use by employees at businesses to help run the business, not consumers to run their lives. That’s a good way of thinking about what “enterprise” means for all you kids who didn’t grow up as enterprise developers and people.

  • Ever get your tires changed, deposit a check, or work with an airline agent? You notice how horrible the computers and software they use is? This IBM/Apple partnership (and others like it) is looking to rewrite and replace those abominations. Now, imagine how big that market is, globally. (Hint: every business in existence that uses computers or will soon, basically.) Massive.

  • Each of the above requires a lot of integration with backend data stores and customizations to work. Lots of consulting work. That’s IBM’s sweet spot, and Apple’s gap. A nice combination.

  • It’s notable that there’s not any health care apps in there. I wouldn’t read too much into that, but they’ll be needing that right quick. That market is too big and fucked IT-wise to ignore.

So, sure. Assuming they work, things are looking good from a press release perspective. We’ll see.

See also Apple’s side of the story which has, as you’d expect, much better visuals.

The first wave of IBM/Apple enterprise iOS apps

That IBM/CSC partnership

The new offerings bring IBM solutions around SoftLayer Infrastructure-as-a-Service and BlueMix to CSC customers, including integrating them with the CSC ServiceMesh Agility Platform. The agreement will bring ServiceMesh Agility Platform to the IBM Cloud Marketplace.

More:

CSC said the IBM alliance will help the company grab a piece of Gartner’s predicted $210 billion market for application services in 2014 and help continue to pivot the solution provider around as-a-Service solutions. With a focus on solutions for mobile, big data and analytics and cloud, CSC executives said the alliance will help the company continue to modernize client applications across a variety of cloud platforms.

That ServiceMesh acquisition seems to have been a good idea.

Also, I have a feeling “enterprise cloud” will be very different than “cloud cloud.” It seems more remote that they’re the same people and concerns. We’ll see.

That IBM/CSC partnership

This week we did pretty well, I think:

softwaredefinedtalk:

This week, we discuss the many problems with calendaring and scheduling, industry analysts, how press releases aren’t really too terrible if you know how to read them (along with other types of tech corporate communications that should supplement them), and talk at length about the IBM/Apple partnership announced this week.

Subscribe: http://feeds.feedburner.com/SoftwareDefinedTalk

With Brandon Whichard, Matt Ray, and Coté.

If you like video, see this episodes’ video recording.

Show-notes:

  • This week I’ve added in more detail on the IBM/Apple partnership from our pre-reading on the topic and the 451 Research report.

Calendaring will never work, analysts types

IBM and Apple

  • All about the IBM/Apple partnership and the cyberponies that may result

  • Plans for 100+ industry specific applications – IBM is just about done transforming (back?) into an applications company (from IBM press release): “a new class of more than 100 industry-specific enterprise solutions including native apps, developed exclusively from the ground up, for iPhone and iPad” – time line looks like “available starting this fall and into 2015.”

  • Industries (from IBM analyst presentation): Banking, Insurance, Telco, Retail, Government, Travel/Transportation, Healthcare

  • Where does this leave Dell, HP, Oracle… SAP is probably neutral here as IBM can sell them and they’d just be cross-platform. There’s, of course, Google for others to team up with, and Microsoft…

  • Meanwhile, Microsoft laying off 14% of workforce, 18,000 in total, with 12,500 from Nokia.

  • For Mobile Device Management (MDM), IBM had acquired Fiberlink (which brought MaaS360, the mobile device manager thingy SaaS tool) in Nov 2013 for a 451 estimated $300m.

  • One thing we don’t touch on (aside from Coté flashing his Chromebook review unit) is a point that Gruber makes well: perhaps much of it is about the transition from Windows PC to iPad.

What’s 451 Saying about IBM/Apple?

Corporate smart phone buying over the next 90 days

  • Chart Source: 451 ChangeWave, 3Q 2014 Corporate IT Spending Trends, June 2014.

  • 451’s coverage of the IBM/Apple partnership:

  • “With this partnership, the two companies are essentially looking to bridge transactional, commerce and database systems of record with the mobile application experience.”

  • IBM has 1,000’s of “assigned” people to this.

  • iOS brings a “single platform” to IBM’s apps, vs. fragmented Android.

  • Companies already want to buy iPhones (chart from 451 ChangeWave, what do you plan on buying in the next quarter):

  • Our report says there aren’t that many 10,000+ deployments, however.

  • Hooking mobile up to all those boring, yet critical enterprise backends: “So far, the widespread deployment of iOS and even Android devices has not created significant demand for mobile apps in the enterprise. The biggest barrier here is the difficulty in securely connecting large-scale legacy back-end systems to mobile devices. This can be a key role for systems integrators like IBM, which have expertise and large teams of developers that can work hand in hand with clients to develop mobile apps that meet customers’ needs.”

The way things go with press releases, and “why”

  • In defense of press releases, and other announcement mediums (blogs, social/word-of-mouth) that are helpful to do as well
  • When the stock price is high, everyone is happy and no one cares what your “why” is.

Recommendations

  • Brandon: The Halo Effect – a business book about business books
  • Matt: get a full a nights sleep by going on a family vacation and all sleeping in one bed.
  • Coté: The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman – always looking for light, entertaining reading to balance out the ponderous biz and tech books I make myself plod through.

One of the better summaries of enterprise OpenStack adoption

In a story about Mirantis running on IBM SoftLayer:

Gauging the uptake of OpenStack in enterprises has been tricky, whether it’s deployed afresh or to replace existing Amazon EC2 or VMware installations. Interest in hiring OpenStack talent is growing, and vendors such as Red Hat are tying in OpenStack closely with their respective Linux distributions. But signs show that the average OpenStack installation is rather modest and OpenStack has struggled to find larger market share — possibly, as InfoWorld’s Dave Linthicum observed, due to its continued lack of robust networking features.

Hopefully company’s using OpenStack will start talking more, then we’ll have a fuller picture of it’s adoption, namely, in private cloud.

In our 451 usage surveys, OpenStack ranks high – second, next to VMware, see chart above – so it seems like there’s usage out there. Quoting from that TheInfoPro piece:

While 36% of respondents already have a cloud platform in production use, 35% will be selecting and deploying a cloud platform for the first time in the next two years or more, and it is not unreasonable to expect that some early adopters will switch horses as the race continues to evolve. As a direct result of its dominance in the enterprise workload virtualization market, and corresponding investment in licensing and expertise, VMware is usually guaranteed a place at the table. However, it is by no means guaranteed a leading position in the cloud platform race that is still very much in its early stages. – See more at: http://theinfopro.blogs.451research.com/index.php/2014/06/the-openstack-tipping-point-will-it-go-over-the-edge/#sthash.4WcArbgu.dpuf

One of the better summaries of enterprise OpenStack adoption