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To the cloud!

Level 11

Private, Public, Hybrid, Infrastructure as a Service, Database as a Service, Software Defined Datacenter; call it what you will but for the sake of this post I’m going to sum it all up as cloud.   When virtualization started to become mainstream we seen a lot of enterprises adopt a “virtualization first” strategy, meaning new services and applications introduced to the business will first be considered to be virtualized unless a solid case for acquiring physical hardware can be made.   As the IT world shifts we are seeing this strategy move more towards a “cloud first” strategy.  Companies are asking themselves questions such as “Are there security policies stating we must run this inside of our datacenter?”, “Will cloud provide a more highly available platform for this service?”, and “Is it cost effective for us to place this service elsewhere?”.

Honestly, for a lot of services the cloud makes sense!  But is your database environment one of them?  From my experiences I’ve seen database environments stay relatively static.  The database sat on different pieces of physical hardware and watched us implement our “virtualization first” strategies.  We’ve long virtualized web front ends, the application servers and all the other pieces of our infrastructure but have yet to make the jump on the database.  Sometimes it’s simply due to performance, but with the advances in hypervisors as of late we can’t necessarily blame it on metrics anymore.  And now we are seeing cloud solutions such as DBaaS and IaaS present themselves to us.  Most of the time, the database is the heart of the company.  The main revenue driver for our business and customers, and it gets so locked up in change freezes that we have a hard time touching it.  But today, let’s pretend that the opportunity to move “to the cloud” is real.

When we look at running our databases in the cloud we really have two main options; DBaaS (Database functionalities delivered directly to us) and IaaS (The same database functionality being provided, but allowing us to control a portion of the infrastructure underneath it.)  No matter the choice we make, to me, the whole “database in the cloud” scenario is one big trade off.  We trade away our control and ownership of the complete stack in our datacenters to gain the agility and mobility that cloud can provide us with.

Think about it!  Currently, we have the ability to monitor the complete stack that our database lives on.  We see all traffic coming into the environment, all traffic going out, we can monitor every single switch, router, and network device that is inside of our four datacenter walls.  We can make BIOS changes to the servers our database resides on.  We utterly have complete and ??? control over how our database performs (with the exception of closed vendor code )  In a cloudy world, we hand over that control to our cloud provider.  Sure, we can usually still monitor performance metrics based on the database operations, but we don’t necessarily know what else is going on in the environment.  We don’t know who our “neighbors” are or if what they are doing is affecting us in anyway.  We don’t know what changes or tweaks might be going on below the stack that hosts our database.  On the flip side though, do we care?  We’ve paid good money for these services and SLAs and put our trust in the cloud provider to take care of this for us.  In return, we get agility.  We get functionality such as faster deployment times.  We aren’t waiting anymore for servers to arrive or storage to be provisioned.  In the case of DBaaS we get embedded best practices.  A lot of DBaaS providers do one thing and one thing alone; make databases efficient, fast, resilient and highly available.  Sometimes the burden of DR and recovery is taken care of for us.  We don’t need to buy two of everything.  Perhaps the biggest advantage though is the fact that we only pay for what we use.  As heavy resource peaks emerge we can burst and scale up, automatically.   When those periods of time are over we can retract and scale back down.

So thoughtful remarks for the week – What side of the “agility vs control” tradeoff do you or your business take?  Have you already made a move to hosting a database in the cloud?  What do you see as the biggest benefit/drawback to using something like DBaaS?   How has cloud changed the way you monitor and run your database infrastructure?

There is definitely no right or wrong answers this week – I’m really just looking for stories.  And these stories may vary depending your cloud provider of choice.  To some providers, this trade-off may not even exist.  To those doing private cloud, you may have the best of both worlds.

As this is my fourth and final post with the ambassador title I just wanted to thank everyone for the comments over the past month...  This is a great community with tons of engagement and you can bet that I won’t be going anywhere, ambassador or not!

31 Comments
Level 13

For us (as far as I know, I'm looking out from the NOC), the only databases we have in the cloud are for apps in the cloud. It wouldn't surprise me, however, if that changed in the not-too-distant future. At that time, I'm sure we'll be tasked with monitoring responsiveness.

MVP
MVP

it sounds like it would work for apps that are happy with high latency when data is not in the same location.

Moving bits of data into the cloud will always have those issues to contend with. That and the sheer volume of data.

Level 11

We can't really do a lot of cloud stuff where I work... which is semi-fortunate for me, since I don't have to deal with networking that.

Level 9

This will be good food for thought!

Level 17

They say the Cloud is Evil, and I AGREE! The Cloud hold's all your data, HOSTAGE! Backed up on End, so when you delete it your data still remains in the Archives. If this is a public cloud they share it with the Governing bodies no matter how much they say they don't. The cloud is so dreaded by some, that the biggest "Search Entity" has a pseudo-name that is used when doing business in any locality other than where they are officially known to be head quartered. They build massive data centers to hold it all.

Public cloud is open to all with just a touch of skill or some adjusted scripts and your PICs are all over.. who would have thought that this day and age, little ole' me could be at the front of some scandal.

Private Clouds are just that private. Owned by whomever builds and controls them. Users save their data there only to find out they don't own it. Some leaving researcher end up going berserk due to finding out that once his access is gone and he 'moves on' that all their data is kept and housed and owned by 'The Institution'. Of course if they copy if before hand it just plain stealing. Before that it's countless hours of working on the cloud, saving your data to the cloud... or so it seems.

Someone has a document in the cloud the want to work on, so it's clicked and opened, and edited, and saved, and edited and saved... but in the Beginning the click opened a network file locally on their machine so a TEMP File was created to work off of, and they save and save like normal and the document saves, but this TEMP file end's up deleting itself when they close the application, so all those saves of the Cloud document are never saved because the saving file was a TEMP file locally on their computer.

Given the explanation, they start asking for a restore of the file because they saved it all, so the data should be there. The explanation frustrates them and they lose faith in the cloud due to improper training and support, or pure ineptness.

From this point on the user in question saves everything locally and then to their non encrypted personal USB drive. The machine lease is up and the machine gets refreshed and their USB drive introduces a virus or malware onto the network and the Internal Cloud...  Oh, did I mention that I hate the cloud!!!

Level 11

The times they are a changing (in Enterprise IT speed that is )

Thanks for the comment!

Level 11

Apps that are happy with high latency - do such exist?

Definitely the amount of data is something to watch out for, especially when paying for transfer to and from!

Thanks!

Level 11

Can't due to compliance/security policies?  Or budgets?

Level 11

So, I can mark you down for a big NO to cloud then?  lol!  Thanks for the insight!

Level 11

It doesn't really matter what you call it, your information is on the net whether you put it there or an agency you deal with puts it there.  Just search public records and see what you find, you won't believe it.

Level 12

Moving your data to the cloud is trendy, but  stop and think about how you would move your data to another provider, or to the next trendy repository.  If you have a small amount of data, you may be able to export/backup to your own infrastructure (assuming it's not all in the cloud...). But what about if you have huge amounts of data?  Nowhere near as easy. Some vendors are relying on the fact that once they get you into their cloud services, moving away from them will get put in the 'too hard' basket.

Level 12

No to Cloud.

Level 11

Thats a great point!  Moving between clouds is not the most user-friendly event!

I think companies like Ravello Systems are really sitting on some awesome technology that can hopefully help us with that...

Level 11

Haha, thanks for the straight forward to the point comment

Level 10

My former employer was NO to the cloud due to tribal sovereignty. What belongs to the tribe must remain on tribal owned land. Therefore, the cloud was not an option.

My current employer advertises a "cloud" to our employees, but in fact it is just co-located at our data center and a co-lo datacenter.

Level 17

some times it just flows    Yes, confirm that NO. It's everywhere and hard to avoid, but I'd rather not.

Level 17

Like my salary for one. It's all there.

Level 10

Move apps to the Cloud is a great option when your infrastructure and budget does not allow make your network be reliable.

Level 17

As long as your shared Pipe to the cloud is big enough to fit it all through.  It's either cost up front, or continued cost expenditure / month.  I would say a cost analysis needs to be done here.

Level 12

We have cloud stuff where i am but we also are just starting it up.. but yeah Apps in the cloud is a good option

Level 11

We also have a cloud group starting.

Level 12

The CFO likes the idea of ownership.  He sees cloud as rental.  We will host the DB and most of our servers for the foreseeable future.

P.S. Control fits into the picture as well.

Level 15

I would love to see some more systems in the cloud for various reasons, but a database? That's just something that should scare any admin!

Level 21

We are a service provider so I guess my thoughts on this are a bit different. 

We have virtualized a lot of databases for customers and many of them were very hesitant to make the plunge, we had to commit to them that we would make sure the performance was as good if not better after we virtualized it for them.  Needless to say, we have learned a lot as several of these databases represented unique challenges.  We have yet to encounter a case where the end result performance was not better; however, often these virtualization projects have required very unique and specific configurations.

Because of this experience I would certainly encourage everybody to not be scared to try it, you can definitely make it work but it might take you a few tries to get it right and often times the standard VM deployment you have used for other systems will not work for the database.

Level 11

As of today, its a beautiful sunny day with not a CLOUD in the sky.  But the weather changes quickly here and I am sure we'll see them rolling in.  I wouldnt mind a few unimportant clouds but around these parts.... clouds bring storms and damage and they scare me.  You cant see into a cloud very well.. and I dont like that much.

In other words

We're currently not using cloud computing but its possible.  As a network person, I'm not a fan.  I want technology that is closer to me.. so that I can easily troubleshoot ALL the issues that come my way rather than trusting the cloud.. But thats just me.

Level 17

Thunder_buddy_Christ.jpg

They're just God's Farts!

Level 14

We don't really have the option to use the cloud where I work, but there are a few "cloud" apps used.  As far as running databases in the cloud, I am NOT for it.  I would not feel comfortable doing that. 

Level 8

I have been looking at the Cloud and its progress in terms of companies migrating over to it for the last 5 years. I have worked in various places including as a Virtualisation consultant (doing the planning and migrating), Microsoft Exchange server upgrades, AD migrations etc etc. I now work as an IT manager and recently undertook a 5 year strategy so did some extensive research on where things are going (or at least where I believed them to be going) so I often like to keep an eye on it as I am not a fan of the Cloud but like to be sure that I am not pushing our companies in the wrong direction. I have had a lot of time to digest, review and experience the cloud and from my technical background I have found that the majority of people pushing it are either Data centers, marketeers or software companies. All of which are set to gain significantly by companies moving to the cloud.

The reasons I dont think the CLoud is viable right now:

1.) How many times in IT for the company you work for will you need to connect two completely different things together? How easy is that going to be when its in the cloud? (I probably didnt word that right but hopefully you know what I mean). As an example, say we have a Database held on site and we have moved to Exchange Cloud but there is something that needs to hook in, something fairly complex that you used to be able to do in powershell on Exchange but now you only get access to some web based gui for exchange, so you have to go through the Microsoft support to get it done if it can be done at all. Also with Exchange in the cloud and the DB is local perhaps there is a performance problem as you have things linked over the internet instead of over gigabit on the LAN. Anyway prob a bad example but hoopefully you get what I mean.

2.) At the cloud hosting provider, who cares (or how much) about getting things working again? If you host it, you have control. I cannot imagine a worse situation than having a cloud based service down and not being able to resolve the issue quickly myself. You will be at the mercy of lesser admins troubleshooting your issues who dont care about your business as much as you do. Ok, quite a strong statement but again there is hopefully some truth in it.

3.) Price? If I renew my infrastructure/software around every 4 years, i cannot make Cloud a viable option. Everytime I have looked at pricing for moving out production servers on cloud based platforms using specs required its more expensive.Also in lean years, you dont have to upgrade you can stretch another year if you own the kit, If you rent, well thats that, you have to pay. Also, what happens when they have your data and software? prices rise.... not easy to migrate to another cloud provider....

4.) When the internet goes down or is slow what happens to your production? Keeping it onsite would avoid this.

I do think Cloud has its place but its perhaps for things that help mobility like cloud storage or for some particular types of software. The only thing I can see that would make me want to move to the cloud is if it was significantly cheaper than hosting your own kit and buying perpetual licenses but as far as I can tell that is not happening right now.

As someone recently said to me" If the cloud worked, everyone would be doing it by now". Virtualisation worked thats why everyone did it. it was a good thing. The Cloud has too many problems like performance, lack of control, cost security etc. Anyone suggesting moving to the cloud will eventually hit a dead end and suggest "Hybrid" deplyoments which is what i think will happen in the end.

MVP
MVP

Ahh...  The cloud.  It ranges from the nice puffy fair weather clouds, to thin wispy cirrus clouds, to big 'ol SLC's (Scary Looking Clouds) some with rotating wall clouds..  In IT as some have mentioned before there are places and times for it or not depending on the datacenter, application, service, etc.  For a ITSM help desk/ticking tool it has it's pluses.  For databases I am not really sure.  If the database is for a BI/data warehouse then it may be workable.  If it is a heavily hit production DB where latency is a four letter word...no way.  The cloud like any other piece of the infrastructure and application/service is a tool in your tool box.  The key is to use the most appropriate tool for the job at hand.  Then there is cost and ROI.  What if there is an outage...how does the cost scale then ?

In the end I am just reiterating what others have said.  Is it appropriate, is it cost effective, is it secure, is it scalable, does it make sense for what is needed, etc....

Level 10

I figured everyone would enjoy this.

nocloud.png

Level 15

Does anyone else feel that the concept of the cloud is worthwhile but that our overall thought regarding security and how to completely encrypt and secure the data packets should be the priority over just jumping on the cloud bandwagon?