From time to time I will devote a post to answering one of the thousands of hand written letters received every day here in the bustling city centre. I feel it’s important to participate in national debates; and have fan-based voices heard.
Like this one:
“Dear Mr. Lewis,
I am 7 years old and attend <redacted> primary school. My friends and I are avid readers of your blog, spending most of our recesses debating complex technology trends. Yesterday, during a rather heated debated on the differences between Cloud and Converged, I pondered if a Cloud could exist without Converged? Unfortunately the bell rang before we could finish our debate, and the teachers are sticklers for learning while in class so I thought I would ask your opinion.
Mr. Lewis, does a Converged-less Cloud exist?
Shout out to Billy, Tommy, Emily and Emma (the crew)
Virginia S. , Moncton NB”
You raise an interesting question, one that is rarely posed in delicate company. After some pondering of my own, I submit the following opinion on the matter:
As discussed before, we know that Cloud is a set of CHARACTERISTICS of technology including on demand resource pooling (virtualized), broad network access, rapid elasticity (automation), self-service (SPOG), and measured service that are evaluated from the outside looking in (i.e. if an external body were to review the Cloud, how well would it exemplify these characteristics).
And if we were to describe the attributes of physical technology within a Converged stack, such as the Hitachi Unified Compute Platform (UCP), and there are several others, they would include:
- Resource pooling: Pooled storage, compute, IP networking, FC networking handling thousands of diverse workloads
- Broad network access: Top of rack interconnectivity with high bandwidth LAN/Fibre and very high bandwidth backplane interconnects
- Rapid Elasticity: Scale In, Up and Out for storage, compute and networking; handling all operating environments
- Self Service: Service oriented and template based workload deployments. Single click provisioning and single pane of glass management
- Measured Service: Modelled workloads for finite resource measurement, and calculated usage/utilities models
Therefore simply stated, a Converged is quite clearly an IMPLEMENTATION of Cloud, a physical example of Cloud characteristics.
Additionally, a Converged stack should also provide substantial value beyond the defined Cloud characteristics including:
- Pre-validated and performance tuned operating environments (VMWare, HyperV, OpenStack, Bare metal)
- Pre-validated application workloads (ie Oracle DB, SAP Hana, Microsoft Private Cloud, Microsoft Exchange, VMWare/Citrix VDI)
- Infrastructure and software professionally installed within manufacturing for single day onsite deployments
- Full stack, single source hardware engineering to optimize performance capabilities
- Component element management via RESTful API’s actioned within your current management suite
- Option to integrate directly into existing enterprise storage pools and data protection capabilities
**Note: Not all Converged is created equal; this description is based on a FULL CONVERGED stack versus a Compute/Networking converged option or Software only converged option **
Therefore completely stated, a Converged is not only an IMPLEMENTATION of Cloud, but also provides additional operational unique value beyond Cloud.
But Virginia, those paragraphs however enlightening, doesn't quite answer your question. Can a non-converged environment, also exhibit these characteristics?
I would propose two answers:
- In a highly homogeneous deployment of infrastructure within a data centre, often deployed for smaller organizations with single purposes or business units, it is fairly reasonable to acquire a single management tool, and implement highly repeatable processes to reflect the characteristics of Cloud, especially when that type of environment unlikely requires measured or self service capabilities. Simply put, if you have a small infrastructure of all the same brand of equipment, you could operate as a Cloud quite easily.
- However, in a highly or even slightly heterogeneous deployment of infrastructure, deployed in most organizations, the potential expense and difficulty of implementing a Single Pane of Glass with associated people and process changes for operational provisioning, monitoring, and management grows exponentially depending on the level of diversity and age of existing equipment/operating systems on the floor. Simply put, if you have a complex and diverse data centre, it’s unlikely that level of change will create the simplicity of the experience needed in a Cloud.
So yes Virginia, Converged-less Cloud does exist; however it would be a fit for very few environments, and I don’t have that kind of time.
Yours to be read, again and again,