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AwkwardCloud: Here’s Hopin’ For Open

February 14th, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments


There’s no way to write this without making it seem like I’m attacking the person whose words I am about to stare rudely at, squint and poke out my tongue.

No, it’s not @reillyusa, featured to the right.  But that expression about sums up my motivation.

Because this ugly game of “Words With Friends” is likely to be received as though I’m at odds with what represents the core marketing message of a company, I think I’m going to be voted off the island.

Wouldn’t be the first time.  Won’t be the last.  It’s not personal.  It’s just cloud, bro.

This week at Cloud Connect, @randybias announced that his company, Cloudscaling, is releasing a new suite of solutions branded under the marketing moniker of  “Open Cloud.”

I started to explore my allergy to some of these message snippets as they were strategically “leaked” last week in a most unfortunate Twitter exchange.  I promised I would wait until the actual launch to comment further.

This is my reaction to the website, press release and blog only.  I’ve not spoken to Randy.  This is simply my reaction to what is being placed in public.  It’s not someone else’s interpretation of what was said.  It’s straight from the Cloud Pony’s mouth. ;p


“Open Cloud” is described as a set of solutions for those looking to deploy clouds that provide “… better economics, greater flexibility, and less lock-in, while maintaining control and governance” than so-called Enterprise Clouds that are based on what Randy tags are more proprietary foundations.

The case is made where enterprises will really want to build two clouds: one to run legacy apps and one to run purpose-built cloud-ready applications.  I’d say that enterprises that have a strategy are likely looking forward to using clouds of both models…and probably a few more, such as SaaS and PaaS.

This is clearly a very targeted solution which looks to replicate AWS’ model for enterprises or SP’s who are looking to exercise more control over the fate over their infrastructure.  How much runway this serves against the onslaught of PaaS and SaaS will play out.

I think it’s a reasonable bet there’s quite a bit of shelf life left on IaaS and I wonder if we’ll see follow-on generations to focus on PaaS.

Yet I digress…

This is NOT going to be a rant about the core definition of “Open,” (that’s for Twitter) nor is this going to be one of those 40 pagers where I deconstruct an entire blog.  It would be fun, easy and rather useful, but I won’t.

No. Instead I  will suggest that the use of the word “Open” in this press release is nothing more than opportunistic marketing, capitalizing on other recent uses of the Open* suffix such as “OpenCompute, OpenFlow, Open vSwitch, OpenStack, etc.” and is a direct shot across the bow of other companies that have released similar solutions in the near past (Cloud.com, Piston, Nebula)

If we look at what makes up “Open Cloud,” we discover it is framed upon on four key solution areas and supported by design blueprints, support and services:

  1. Open Hardware
  2. Open Networking
  3. Open APIs
  4. Open Source Software

I’m not going to debate the veracity or usefulness of some of these terms directly, but we’ll come back to them as a reference in a second, especially the notion of “open hardware.”

The one thing that really stuck under my craw was the manufactured criteria that somehow defined the so-called “litmus tests” associated with “Enterprise” versus “Open” clouds.

Randy suggests that if you are doing more than 1/2 of the items in the left hand column you’re using a cloud built with “enterprise computing technology” versus “open” cloud should the same use hold true for the right hand column:

So here’s the thing.  Can you explain to me what spinning up 1000 VM’s in less than 5 minutes has to do with being “open?”  Can you tell me what competing with AWS on price has to do with being “open?” Can you tell me how Hadoop performance has anything to do with being “open?”  Why does using two third-party companies management services define “open?”

Why on earth does the complexity or simplicity of networking stacks define “openness?”

Can you tell me how, if Cloudscaling’s “Open Cloud” uses certified vendors from “name brand” vendors like Arista how this is any way more “open” than using an alternative solution using Cisco?

Can you tell me if “Open Cloud” is more “open” than Piston Cloud which is also based upon OpenStack but also uses specific name-brand hardware to run?  If “Open Cloud” is “open,” and utilizes open source, can I download all the source code?

These are simply manufactured constructs which do little service toward actually pointing out the real business value of the solution and instead cloaks the wolf in the “open” sheep’s clothing.  It’s really unfortunate.

The end of my rant here is that by co-opting the word “open,” this takes a perfectly reasonable approach of a company’s experience in building a well sorted, (supposedly more) economical and supportable set of cloud solutions and ruins it by letting its karma get run over by its dogma.

Instead of focusing on the merits of the solution as a capable building block for building plain better clouds, this reads like a manifesto which may very well turn people off.

Am I being unfair in calling this out?  I don’t think so.  Would some prefer a private conversation over a beer to discuss?  Most likely.  However, there’s a disconnect here and it stems from pushing public a message and marketing a set of solutions that I hope will withstand the scrutiny of this A-hole with a blog.

Maybe I’m making a mountain out of a molehill…

Again, I’m not looking to pick on Cloudscaling.  I think the business model and the plan is solid as is evidenced by their success to date.  I wish them nothing but success.

I just hope that what comes out the other end is being “open” to consider a better adjective and more useful set of criteria to define the merits of the solution.


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  1. cloudtoad
    February 15th, 2012 at 10:18 | #1

    Is the network complex? Yes it is. Cloud networks are complex. Shielding that complexity behind an application doesn’t make it “simpler.” You’ve just made it (potentially) easier to manage.

    That graphic is clear marketing bologne directed at people “above” the Engineering/Architecture level. It is targeted at director level (and above) folks to persuade them to move to cloud services elsewhere. Is this what they mean by “open?” Pandering to people who desparately want St. Nick Carr’s prophecy to become real? Business people who want to get back to “business” and not think about IT again? How well has that really worked out in the past?

    Even within the model provided by cloud there are topological and application design constraints. Its just a fact. A whole suite of tools and expertise has grown like cancer around the adoption, deployment, and management of cloud services. To get this under control, here comes PaaS: build your apps with the tools we give you so you can deploy them on our crappy cloud offering. As with all things what starts off simple evolves into complex… order to chaos. Are we approaching the threshold where there will be a thin margin (or no margin) gained by adopting whatever “cloud” is at the moment? Now we will have folks with expertise in managing cloud services, expertise in cloud vendor development platforms, expertise in cloud security (if thats even possible right now. ACLs are not security).

    Open my ass. Open almost means honest.

    This is why “cloud” is fundamentally bullshit. Its a network (for me that includes the hosts and all things required to deliver the app or service.) They are all are.

    • cloudtoad
      February 15th, 2012 at 10:30 | #2

      Apologies for bad grammar… etc.

  2. fnaar
    February 16th, 2012 at 13:27 | #3

    I’m leaning towards sh*tty marketing. I’ve seen Randy in action; he’s qualified to call himself a cloud builder. I also think I get what he means by “open cloud”; its a position that capitalizes on the nature of cloud to hide layers from users and automate them for operators. So the more “open” a cloud is, the easier it is for that solution to abstract away a)hardware b)resiliency 3)delivery 4)configuration

    A vBlock is the antithesis of “open” in that context, and tuning a bunch of open source software on nameless hardware to deliver AWS-style computing(what Cloudscaling does) is very open. That doesn’t answer the charge of co-opting “open” in its more familiar surroundings, like open standards, open source, etc. That’s clearly a shot home. But had the slides come out a little differently, I bet the whole issue wouldn’t be so irksome. e.g:

    “Is your cloud built on primo hella expensive gear from HP/Dell/etc with a murderous support contract and parts that need to ordered from Mars?” Ans: “No, it runs on yumcha servers from Somewhereistan and switches that don’t even have brand names, AND I get better results”

    “Is your entire IT brigade trapped in VMware feature ask hell until Ragnarok?” Ans: “No, we can let the smart people use Xen or whatever the hell they want, our cloud can mount 5.25″ floppies if you need to, as well as Bob’s retarded pile of Win2K VMDKs”

    and so on. Then I think the “open cloud” message would have been more palatable even in the context of blatant marketeering. This isn’t a complete thought by any means, but I’ll leave it here. Good blog for making thinking happen. Much appreciated.

  1. February 15th, 2012 at 12:07 | #1
  2. February 16th, 2012 at 20:07 | #2