Last week I took part in a Cloud briefing in London that really got me thinking that amongst the venerable articulate people in the room, that very few were concentrating on the actual business of Cloud ownership and adoption.
There is still a fervour, even a mark of honour, at being able to build your own Cloud, be it your private cloud constructed of a blend of your existing architecture and new plateaus of blade servers (I'm claiming that...) and virtualised components. The cold hard realisation that 2012/13 is about PaaS and starting to manipulate and deliver against deployed architecture, and if you were to do a straw poll in the room I'd put a bet that less than a third had thought about what that PaaS was going to look like. Thats a dangerous game when you're concentrating solely on IaaS and delivering against a fixed IT budget that has seen little to no growth for the last few years. To be clear everyone in the room was at a very different stage of Cloud maturity and this is no surprise, we're in an emerging market. The one thing everyone had in common was a goal to learn more from the experience of others - and how to do it for very little money. IT budgets are scarce and if anyone wants to tell you otherwise then I hope they're doing it in hushed tones.
The buzz in the room is fervently OpenStack, it's everywhere and I'm not remotely knocking it, OpenStack since day one has impressed the socks off me, not for the technology or the construct itself but mainly as it's done one important thing. It's continued the message of Open Source and community groundswell to Cloud. We've been passionate quietly but backed up with investment in funds and people in the growth and adding depth in capability and code maturity and announced in April our continued support and our intents around OpenStack itself. If you talk to Brian Stevens our CTO he'll tell you with passion about his views around OpenStack and the fact that the momentum of Linux in the Cloud and the fact OpenStack is built around Red Hat technologies can't be ignored.
The analysts are as always playing the angles. GigaOM yesterday had an article out looking at the prospects of OpenStack as it hits two and going some way to painting a picture that it's all about choice. Yet it was less than two months ago that Larry Dignan of ZDNet was pegging OpenStack's growth or emergence against the financial performance of Rackspace (which given the project is not actually aligned to it's original founding fathers) was somewhat confusing. Rackspace are a great organisation who just like Dell or IBM, and many organisations outside of IT but with a reliance on open source components and technologies have given back and made public a release of code that the rest of the world can then contribute to, and benefit from.
So let's take CloudForms - our latest release from the Cloud Business Unit at Red Hat. CloudForms as we've described before in detail is a number of specific Open Source projects that are polished and supported by Red Hat and grouped together under an umbrella project - CloudForms. At the very heart of this being Deltacloud which we released to the Apache Incubator almost three years ago for use globally as an interoperability abstraction layer.
With CloudForms you then can add application control across multiple Cloud infrastructures. Think of this in enterprise terms as being able to have mature application lifecycle across heterogeneous and disparate cloud infrastructures. So if you're needing to deploy a patch within a change control window to an application as you would locally in a datacentre but that application also runs in your public or open hybrid Cloud environments remotely to treat it exactly the same.
So with OpenStack CloudForms becomes absolutely mission critical. Imagine you have your list of exposed cloud fabric encompassing your AWS environment maybe a smattering of VMWare instances, and an OpenStack build. Imagine having the ability to just treat OpenStack as another target cloud to be able to manage and deploy against. CloudForms then gives you the concerted ability to stand up and manage OpenStack locally in your datacentre, remotely at a service provider or public datacentre and to manage it very much as part of your own infrastructure. To be able to demonstrate governance to be able to do this now, and to own your lifecycle to Cloud not just from IaaS but thinking about your cost base and your internal policies and application adolescence.
As I started to explain OpenShift and CloudForms last week to the delegates in the room the delegates there didn't need a lot of explaining, that only happens when you have good code married with thought leadership. When people you've known five minutes start finishing your sentences and get animated you know you're onto something special.
You're going to hear a lot about CloudForms, and you should be aware what it does - and what it potentially means to you, regardless of your cloud architecture.
Now if you've got this far I'd like you to take just over five and a half minutes of your day to watch a video we've released just before Summit on CloudForms which should if the magic works be embedded at the base of this post (if it doesn't please visit the link here)
If you can stand up with conviction and talk openly about getting to Cloud and to get past the hype to enable your users, developers and customers to get there safely and in a way that fits their enterprise ambitions then thats got to be a good thing. Whilst Cloud allows us to be dynamic and flexible in our use of resources and technologies it needs a belts and braces approach to management and configuration / change / governance at the earliest opportunity to underwrite ambition. If you're serious about Cloud and you aren't already looking at CloudForms then maybe you should be.
I'm attending the first OpenStack meetup in London on 25th July. If you'd like to meet up fill out the form and register, and I'll see you there.