Living in a hybrid world

Published by Rodolphe Wilhelm, 17 Jun 2015

The view often propagated by IT vendors is that public cloud is already capable of delivering a seamless extension between on-premise private cloud platforms and public, shared infrastructure. But Orlando Bayter, chief executive and founder of Ormuco, says the industry is only at the outset of delivering a deeply interwoven fabric of private and public cloud services.

Demand for that kind of seamlessness hasn’t been around for very long, admittedly. It’s no great secret that in the early days of cloud demand for public cloud services was spurred largely by the slow-moving pace traditional IT organisations are often set. As a result every time a developer wanted to build an application they would simply swipe the credit card and go, billing back to IT at some later point. So the first big use case for hybrid cloud emerged when developers then needed to bring their apps back in-house, where they would live and probably die.

But as the security practices of cloud service providers continue to improve, along with enterprise confidence in cloud more broadly, cloud bursting – the ability to use a mix of public and private cloud resources to fit the utilisation needs of an app – became more widely talked about. It’s usually cost prohibitive and far too time consuming to scale private cloud resources quick enough to meet the changing demands of today’s increasingly web-based apps, so cloud bursting has become the natural next step in the hybrid cloud world.

Orlando will be speaking at the Cloud World Forum in London June 24-25. Click here to register.

There are, however, still preciously few platforms that offer this kind of capability in a fast and dynamic way. Open source projects like OpenStack or more proprietary variants like VMware’s vCloud or Microsoft’s Azure Stack (and all the tooling around these platforms or architectures) are at the end of the day all being developed with a view towards supporting the deployment and management of workloads that can exist in as many places as possible, whether on-premise or in a cloud vendor’s datacentre.

“Let’s say as a developer you want to take an application you’ve developed in a private cloud in Germany and move it onto a public cloud platform in the US. Even for the more monolithic migration jobs you’re still going to have to do all sorts of re-coding, re-mapping and security upgrades, to make the move,” Bayter says.

“Then when you actually go live, and have apps running in both the private and public cloud, the harsh reality is most enterprises have multiple management and orchestration tools – usually one for the public cloud and one for the private; it’s redundant, and inefficient.”

Ormuco is one company trying to solve these challenges. It has built a platform based on HP Helion OpenStack and offers both private and public instances, which can both be managed in a single pane of glass; it has built its own layer in between to abstract resources underneath).

It has multiple datacentres in the US and Europe from which it offers both private and public instances, as well as the ability to burst into its cloud platform using on-premise OpenStack-based clouds. The company is also a member of the HP Helion Network, which Bayter says gives it a growing channel and the ability to offer more granular data protection tools to customers.

“The OpenStack community has been trying to bake some of these capabilities into the core open source code, but the reality is it only achieved a sliver of these capabilities by May this year,” he said, alluding to the recent OpenStack Summit in Vancouver where new capabilities around federated cloud identity were announced and demoed.

“The other issue is simplicity. A year and a half ago, everyone was talking about OpenStack but nobody was buying it. Now service providers are buying but enterprises are not. Specifically with enterprises, the belief is that OpenStack will be easier and easier as time goes on, but I don’t think that’s necessarily going to be the case,” he explains.

“The core features may become a bit easier but the whole solution may not, but there are so many things going into it that it’s likely going to get clunkier, more complex, and more difficult to manage. It could become prohibitively complex.”

That’s not to say federated identity or cloud federation is a lost cause – on the contrary, Bayter says it’s the next horizon for cloud. The company is currently working a set of technologies that would enable any organisation with infrastructure that lies significantly underutilised for long periods to rent out their infrastructure in a federated model.

Ormuco would verify and certify the infrastructure, and allocate a performance rating that would change dynamically along with the demands being placed on that infrastructure – like an AirBnB for OpenStack cloud users. Customers renting cloud resources in this market could also choose where their data is hosted.

“Imagine a university or a science lab that scales and uses its infrastructure at very particular times; the rest of the time that infrastructure is fairly underused. What if they could make money from that?”

There are still many unanswered questions – like whether the returns for renting organisations would justify the extra costs (i.e. energy) associate with running that infrastructure, or where the burden of support lies (enterprises need solid SLAs for production workloads) and how that influences what kinds of workloads ends up on rented kit, but the idea is interesting and definitely consistent with the line of thinking being promoted by the OpenStack community among others in open source cloud.

“Imagine the power, the size of that cloud,” says Bayter . “That’s the cloud that will win out.”

This interview was produced in partnership with Ormuco