This blog comments on a variety of technology news, trends, and products and how they connect. I'm in Red Hat's cloud product strategy group in my day job although I cover a broader set of topics here. This is a personal blog; the opinions are mine alone.
Haff: You're listening to the Cloudy Chat Podcast with Gordon Haff.
Hi, this is Gordon Haff, cloud evangelist with Red Hat. I'm sitting here with
Chris Wells, product marketing manager with Red Hat who, among other things, is
responsible for Red Hat's CloudForms hybrid infrastructure as a service cloud
Wells: Hi, Gordon.
Can you just give us a high level view of what CloudForms is and maybe,
in doing that, what does a hybrid infrastructure as a service cloud management
product do generally?
Yeah, absolutely. When we take a look at Red Hat CloudForms, it's really
doing several different things for you. The whole goal is we want to give
customers the ability to build out and manage their own private clouds and then
really go into a hybrid cloud model to be able to leverage a public cloud
infrastructure. We also want the ability to go in across heterogeneous
infrastructures. We really want to give customers the choice of where they're
going to run things in the cloud, meaning that they want to be able to pick
whether it's physical machines, different types of hypervisors giving the
option for multiple hypervisors or virtualization solutions. And then also give
them a choice of different types of public cloud providers.
when we take a look at CloudForms, we believe it's fundamentally about not just
being able to be able to run systems on different types of infrastructure, but
it's also about being able to manage the applications that will then run in
that type of infrastructure and do all of the traditional systems management
tasks around that. Patching systems, provisioning systems, configuring systems.
at Red Hat, we believe that if you want to get to your own private hybrid cloud
environment, you want to offer an ability such as self service provisioning and
stuff. To fundamentally do that you've got to be able to manage across multiple
different types of infrastructure, as well as be able to manage different types
of applications that run in that cloud infrastructure.
That's really one of the ways that a cloud management product is
different from virtualization management.
Yeah. I think another big difference is a lot of people, to your point,
get confused about what's the difference, especially from a self‑service
perspective, between virtualization and cloud. To me, where the fundamental
differences are is, if you have virtualization and you put a self‑service
portal in front of it, that does give you some automation and some flexibility
benefits and agility benefits, but you're really restricted to that
virtualization provider. If you have other types of infrastructure that you
want to run your systems across, whether they be physical, other types of
hypervisors, or public cloud providers you can't do that with a pure
think the other part that's different is that most self‑service portals that
I've seen in front of virtualization solutions are really designed for
administrators. They're designed to make it easier for an administrator to spin
up a new VM. What people want to do in a cloud environment is they want to take
that self‑service out to end users like developers and stuff.
only way you're going to be able to do that is you've got to have policies that
you can put around and say who's allowed to access what kind of VMs, what
they're allowed to run, what kind of resources and infrastructure. You have to
have that whole policy layer. That's something that we provide in CloudForms.
It's not just a portal that anybody can go to and submit a VM.
a whole policy that you can put in front of it to decide who can do it, what
kind of access, what the system dependencies are so, as an IT infrastructure
team, you still have control of your infrastructure.
This is where you see a difference with a private or hybrid cloud that's
governed by IT and the shadow IT by credit card you see with Amazon. It's their
idea that anybody can spin up instances in Amazon with anything they feel like
in it, including production applications.
Yeah. I've talked to quite a few customers. I'm talking to centralized IT
teams. They're nervous about shadow IT that's in other parts of their business
units and organization, because they know, at the end of the day, that they're
going to be held accountable, the centralized IT teams, for the security of
data, the availability of infrastructure, even if it's being done by a shadow
IT organization. They know it's eventually going to come back onto them.
They're trying to figure out ways to give their internal customers that
flexibility that a public cloud provider would provide but have all those
I think you're lots of analogs to the whole consumerization of IT,
whether it's iPhones or Android phones or tablets or what have you, that I
think the best‑of‑breed IT organizations really don't want to just say,
"No, you can't use any of this stuff, even if it makes your jobs easier,
faster, more efficient." But on the other hand, they really just can't
say, "Hey, sure, put the corporate data on your laptop. No big deal."
Yeah. I think what's changed is we've kind of had some cultural changes
in IT over the last few years. Whereas I'd argue, 10 years ago, centralized IT
teams were very rigid, very structured. You did it their way or the highway.
And what's changed? You talked about the consumerization of IT. You've had
people walk in with their smartphones and say, "Hey, I need to have this
smartphone access our email." And IT now can't just ignore that demand. I
think what we see on the infrastructure side that what's changing is that the
public cloud providers that have come online over the last few years have set a
new bar that IT has to answer. I have an option. I can take my corporate credit
card and go get a VM on a public cloud provider very quickly and very easily,
and if my centralized IT team can't give me that service, I'll go someplace
the point is, the IT teams have to react. And they're looking for ways to be
able to do that that allows them to leverage existing investments they already
have in their organization, because they can't throw out existing
infrastructure. But yeah, it does give them that ability to be more agile and
more flexible, more responsive to what the business wants.
You've been talking about self‑service. And self‑service is really a
pretty fundamental aspect of cloud computing, whether we're talking public
clouds or private clouds. A lot of the time, we hear this expressed in the form
of users having access to a service catalog. What does that mean?
I think the easiest way to think of a service catalog is it's just a
listing of all of the applications or resources that you want to be able to
give someone access to. Ideally, you want to have this on‑demand web page or
portal that someone can go to and say, "Hey, look, I need a database
instance or an application‑server instance or a web server," or whatever
it happens to be. I think the easiest use case is probably around developers.
If I'm a developer, I'm going to be spinning up a sandbox for an application
server very quickly. I want to get access to it to get my job done. But it may
only live for a relatively short amount of time, because once I finish that
development or test whatever, I just want to throw it away.
IT process today, if I'm a developer, I've got to put in a self‑service ticket.
Maybe I’ve got to send an email. It's got to go to someone. It might take them
a couple of days to meet the request, get the hardware, get the software. Most
companies I talk to say that could be a three, four‑week process before I have
Yeah. I was talking to someone who had run a service organization, at a
large IT vendor, a couple years ago. He really told me an eye‑opening story. He
said they went in to this customer who was looking to basically be able to get
resources to users more quickly. They cut that time down from 70 days to 35
days, which he considered still to be really horrible because of the work flows
in the organization, and the customer was absolutely delighted. 35 days to get
resources to a developer, who could, in principle, have an application up and
running and generate money for the company with that application for,
basically, a whole month.
I think that's a good point, where it's all relative [laughs] to what
your pain is. But going back on the service catalog, it's exactly right. I
mean, if I was able to provide a service catalog that said, "Here's a
middleware environment. Here's all the application tools and everything that
you need," and I can provide that to a developer. They can just go to a
web page, they don't have to put an email or self‑service ticket or anything.
They can just go, get access to their resources, spin it up in a matter of
minutes. They're happy, because they get their job done faster. I'm happier,
because I have completely automated that process. I'm not having to take my
time to go through and do basic, low‑level builds of the machine. It's all
ready to go.
Great. Thank you, Chris. This is Gordon Haff, and I've been speaking with
Red Hat's Chris Wells.
I'm in the cloud product strategy group at Red Hat. Prior to Red Hat, I wrote hundreds of research notes, was frequently quoted in publications like The New York Times on a wide range of IT topics, and advised clients on product and marketing strategies. Earlier in my career, I was responsible for bringing a wide range of computer systems, from minicomputers to large UNIX servers, to market while at Data General. Among other hobbies, I do a lot of photography and enjoy the outdoors.