Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Cloud Computing Center grows

I was a member of the PhD students committee last week and I managed to push trough two Tomas students: Tomas Barina and Tomas Vondra. Both of them, of course will focus on cloud computing.

Tomas B. works for IBM, but he has 40% time reserved for self-education in his contract. He wants to devote this time working on his PhD.  His diploma work was in the field of NoSQL databases and he wants to pursue this work in his PhD project. We plan to look at some advanced methods for organizing the data structure, optimizing the replications etc.  Patrik Lenart was the other student writing his theses in NoSQL databases. We are putting together a comprehensive paper summarizing their findings.

Tomas Vondra has just recently graduated too. His diploma work was focusing on testing GSM gateways. But the cloud computing problems are pulling him to our group. He is a very talented computer geek with a passion for collecting ancient computer parts. He has a lot of experience in administering, fixing and tuning computers. He has installed for us the Eucalyptus cloud OS and he is still supervising the development. We would like to contribute  with him to optimum distribution of tasks in hybrid clouds. There is lot of problems associated with task execution planning.

Ivan Kutil is joining our group to work on his diploma thesis. He is a MSc student at the Faculty of economics in Prague. He is interested in business aspects of Google Apps. Mainly, what GA offer to MSBs, what are the typical problems to switch to GA etc. He is also running his company www.appsatori.eu. The company helps customers with GA conversion and installation problems.

I am also very happy about Vojta Jina joining our group. He has an experience working for UK based software companies. He has learned a lot, but his adventure had almost damaging impact on his university carrier. It was five after twelve when we saved him. His job is to make two semesters in 6 month. He is doing well, but he is in a hurry since he already works for Google. He moves to Mountain View in September. He will do his diploma work also in our group. Vojta is big fan of Javascript. He contributes to the Angular project in Google. His idea is to write a new much better Javascript testing engine and I am looking forward to join him in this work.

I am looking for new students. There are new projects descriptions at our university pages. If you know some enthusiastic, self-motivating and hardworking individuals let me know the CCC is greatest home for you.

We believe in Cloud!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Virtualize your servers

I wrote about my presentation at BIF in Prague two weeks ago. I focused at the difficulties we are facing on the way to virtualization and cloud computing at small and medium companies. This blog is the first part summarizing some of the messages.
I have started with a question: what is the CIO's task? And I have also provided the answer: save money, make the IT highly available, secure and have a plan for disaster recovery. First what comes to our mind is to save money is virtualization. Next is the cloud. The reason is simple, companies have investments in the existing SW and HW and they have to amortize it.
How difficult is it to virtualize the company internal infrastructure? Hard to say but it strongly depends on the quality of standards of administrating, managing SW, and the internal infrastructure. The better is the company IT organized the faster can be virtualized.
However, the reality is sometimes very problematic, because the dynamics of a small company are not always under control. The boss needs some performance graph and he needs it immediately. This makes the developer to use the fastest way to launch the app producing requested graph. After a while the company’s servers are full of many different single purpose apps designed in many different styles and using a set of disconnected databases. They are used randomly, some of them got forgotten or obsolete, but everybody is afraid to delete anything. The data and the mess grow. It is not simple to virtualize in such environment. On the other hand the savings can be bigger.
The first step to effectively introduce virtualization is to profile applications and servers. This is also the best time for consolidation of the SW. The company needs to understand how many applications they need, what is their usage, how many clients they need to support, what is the seasonality, how much CPU and memory the apps require, what is the necessary availability, how critical is the application for company etc. Some of the apps are good candidates for virtualization, but not all. For example, there is no reason to virtualize apps requiring lot of resources and utilizing the whole server well.
The biggest virtualization gain comes from combining apps with non-overlapping profiles. Typical web app has the peak 8-10 times higher then the average load. If we can group applications with different seasonality, with non-overlapping peaks, we can run several of them on one box and achieving higher server utilization. To achieve this goal we need to configure the VMs resources for the peak performance, but expecting that most of the time they will require only the average load. Aggregation and multiplexing of apps with dynamic resources requirement on one box may lead to achieving utilization of up to 70%, may be even higher. This will help us to save some of the servers.

For most of the companies the biggest problem is to organize properly and cleanly all business applications. In addition, the company may have problems to run the VMs on old HW, the networking may need to be upgraded, the SAN may need some update or changes, the staff needs to learn new methods for monitoring and managing servers. The existing SW licenses policy needs to be reviewed. Each VM requires new OS, which is no problem in case of open source, but it is not for free with Windows.

Recently, Filip provided a link to an interesting survey about the cloud adoption. Let me mention only three of the findings: 69% of cloud users are planning to use open source SW, 70% of data center managers  plan to start with private cloud and 77% IT professionals prefer to deploy their infrastructure using virtualization. This is completely in synch with my blief.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Conference Business Information Forum 2011

I had a presentation at the Business Information Forum 2011 conference yesterday. This was a gathering for of the Czech IT leading experts. The major theme was cloud computing. I had a 20 min slot for my presentation.  The name was Virtualization & Cloud. Petr Koubsky the organizer and a friend of mine has chosen this topic for me. I was supposed to explain what are the major difficulties to virtualize or convert to cloud the IT infrastructure.  An impossible job, but check what I put together on my prezi.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

eClub summary presentation

I was involved in many activities in May. The most successful and also rewarding was eClub. To summarize what has been done I have prepared a presentation. It shows what were the motivations and what were the achievements. This is also my presentation for a Systemova Integrace conference next week in Prague. I want to continue in the eClub effort again from autumn. I am thinking about new format. If you have any suggestions, let me know.