New site, new organization

I have not had much time to update this blog recently.  Work has been busy.  I have also been working on a new way of organizing my blogging entries.

One of the things I am doing is migrating off wordpress.com to a hosted wordpress.org instance.  There might be hitches and problems as I get going with this.  As of today, you can see the old postings on health IT or healthcare IT under http://svfruitstand.com/healthit. I hope to add more posts to it soon.

I also have not abandoned commenting on what’s new in IT and trends in social media and software.  Those blogs have been migrated over to http://svfruitstand.com/swblog.

Database as a Service – from Force.com to Amazon RDS and SQL Azure

These days, those who are building internet applications have many choices for database.  Traditionally (i.e. up to the last few years), you have the usual commercial and open source solutions such as Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL, PostgresSQL to store user and application data.  Usually, these databases run in the company’s own data centers or a co-lo facility managed by AT&T, Verizon or the like.  However, offerings from Force.com (from Salesforce.com), Amazon Web Services and Windows Azure are changing this landscape.  In fact, in some cases, they start to converge despite their differences.

I started thinking about database as a service not because I was building one or looking for a DBaaS solution.  In fact, I was building a full stack internet application based on open source technology.  However, the offering from Force.com was rather intriguing as they claim to offer faster development time, easy to use language and secured infrastructure as this InformationWeek article indicates.

However, when you dig a little deeper, you will find that if you do not want your UI to look like the Salesforce.com form based interface and instead you want a rich interactive user experience, Force.com offers limited options.  The reason is because Force.com only offers a database driven form application UI or a heavy client written in Adobe AIR and Flex.  The former is reminiscent of web application from the late 1990s and the latter requires significant processing power on the client desktop.

Now you may say Force.com supports Java, Ruby and every other language under the sun.  That is indeed true though it is also where Force.com veers from a Platform as a Service provider into a Database as a Service provider.   If you want to use Java, Ruby, PHP or another language to build your application logic and client interface, you essentially have to host that code yourself.  You would be using the Force.com infrastructure for database and maybe stored procedures.  Sure you can host your application code at AWS or even Azure cloud but does it really make sense to have multiple vendors hosting different tiers of your technology stack?  It is tough enough to satisfy your SLA for applications that you run fully in-house.

In short, if you see a need to contract with multiple hosting vendors for the database, application and client technologies, you may well start looking at Force.com, Amazon RDS and SQL Azure as similar solutions.  Each has its strengths and drawbacks.  Here is an article comparing RDS and SQL Azure that you can start with.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

VMware enters the PaaS fray with SpringSource purchase

At the crossroad of virtualization and cloud computing, VMware apparently chose to build up their PaaS capability by buying SpringSource for over $362 million in cash. I don’t think this purchase alone will make VMware a major player in the PaaS space but it is nevertheless telling of their strategy.

VMware already is a dominant vendor in the virtualization space, owning 55% to 80% of the virtualization marketshare according to sources on the web. However, they have a formidable competitor in the form of Microsoft and emerging competitors in the form of cloud providers who are targeting the Enterprise IT Infrastructure market.

As a result, I expect VMware to look at the following areas as growth as well as competitive threats:

  1. Data Center Server Virtualization – Microsoft Hyper-V and Citrix XenServer are the major competitors to VMware’s expanding offerings.
  2. Private Cloud – VMware has been positioning its infrastructure software for those IT Infrastructure folks who want to establish Private Cloud. This is provided as an alternative as the public cloud providers such as Amazon Web Services’ EC2.
  3. IaaS – Infrastructure as a Service is basically what AWS EC2 provides.  You can use this contingent infrastructure to spin up servers when necessary without having idle capacity that is not used most of the time.  VMware’s interest would be to either become the platform of choices for major IaaS vendors (not likely with Amazon doing everything in-house) or make it unattractive for IT Infrastructure folks.
  4. SaaS – There is no direct competition between VMware with software vendors that provide their products in SaaS form.  However, if enterprise IT moves to adopt SaaS in a major way, they will not need to run as many servers in-house.  As a result, there will be less need for virtualization software.  It can be a threat.
  5. PaaS – Microsoft has been pushing the Windows Azure Platform for a couple of years now.  They want ISVs to develop on their platform and then stay wedded through the deployment and service their end customers using Microsoft PaaS.  This can have a similar effect as SaaS in that it would shrink the footprint of in-house IT and reduce the market potential for virtualization.  Remember too, Google and Amazon are also vying for this space with their developer API offerings for developers.

VMware has been quite active in the Private Cloud area looking at their press activities, but this latest acquisition indicates that they are gunning for PaaS too.  I really wonder how well VMware can execute with this strategy, given that PaaS needs a significant invest in the operations capability.  It is not just building software and shipping it to IT customers.  They will also need to start pulling together a developer community who is traditionally more aligned with Amazon and Microsoft.

Also, there might be too much noise in this space already.  Amazon has significant mindshare and marketshare.  Microsoft has the advantage that they own the Microsoft platform.  I am not sure I see VMware being very successful with this buy but further analysis from others may reveal angles that I have ignored.    What do you folks think?

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

VMware addresses the IT Finance question

Infoworld article VMware addresses virtual machine chargeback announces the arrival of VMware in the IT Financial Management space.  The product is called VMware vCenter Chargeback.

As a vendor of virtualization technology, VMware has made it possible for companies to use their hardware investments more efficiency, running multiple virtual server instances on an underutilized multi-CPU server. However, this technological advancement has compounded the problem that enterprise IT has in the ITFM space.

A few of the major ITFM pain points for corporate IT:

  1. IT is struggling to provide visibility into where all the IT expenditures are going.  Business Units want the ability to drill from dollar amount to the services they receive.  They want a multi-level chargeback statement.
  2. Business Units want to see why the services they use cost so much, and the unit cost of each service.  They have the option to bypass corporate IT and go with an external vendor.
  3. Business Units want to know if they can dial down a certain service to save money.  They want to be able to pick and choose service levels and investment.  Flat overhead allocation no longer satisfies them.

As you can see, VMware had injected themselves in the middle of this problem when they make sharing of IT infrastructure possible.  Now they have stepped up to provide the tools for IT finance to do showback or chargeback for virtual server resources.

Existing ITFM vendors better connect the dots and integrate this data into their systems.  If not, VMware may just move up the value chain and eat their lunch in a version or two, especially if spending on VMware products and services become a dominant component of IT infrastructure budgets.