It wasn’t all too long ago that cloud computing seemed like something only bleeding edge tech companies took seriously. Cloud is now fairly ubiquitous in the current world of tech. The recent pandemic helped accelerate this trajectory, but it was undeniable that cloud would become a main player in enterprise IT. This cloud boom has led to so many new services and vendors that it can be hard to keep track of the ever changing landscape.
I participated as a delegate in Cloud Field Day 10 back in the spring of 2021, where a number of IT vendors presented their latest cloud products during a live streamed virtual event. The CFD10 delegates were treated to a bunch of great presentations, all of which stirred up some interesting insights about the current cloud ecosystem. For those who are unfamiliar with the Field Day series, you can learn more about Tech Field Day and even apply to become a delegate. Cloud Field Day 10 can be consumed on demand as a playlist on the Tech Field Day YouTube site as well.
Pivoting into cloud
The IT industry has been transforming for quite some time now. Most practitioners can attest to the fact that technology is changing faster than ever. It seems like just yesterday that I was a data center and virtualization professional who realized that I needed to ride the oncoming cloud wave. I felt like I was already behind the curve, but I knew that a new set of skills would be critical to staying relevant in IT. Now that I’m more fully immersed in the cloud, I still get a ton of use out of my infrastructure focused background. I also realize that there is a wide spectrum of cloud adoption from a practitioner standpoint, and it is never too late / we all still have a ton to learn.
Many vendors have also realized that they need to go on a similar ride. At Cloud Field Day 10, there were a number of vendors that I was already very familiar with from my time as a data center engineer and architect. Veeam is one of those vendors that made a name for themselves as a disruptor in the VM backup space. Veeam has built upon that success by extending into the cloud. They presented their Veeam Cloud Data Management Platform at CFD10, which highlighted their mission to grow the Veeam brand in a multi-cloud world.
NetApp is another vendor that is well known from the on-prem storage world. More recently, NetApp has extended its storage platform via NetApp Cloud Volumes. The addition of the Spot platform to the NetApp lineup brings cloud focused compute and economics to complement NetApp’s well known storage focus. Spot Ocean was presented at CFD10 to show that there can be value in Continuous Optimization of cloud native workloads.
VMware, Oracle and Dell Technologies rounded out the group as some of the biggest vendors from the data center world to present at CFD10. VMware has the distinction of being responsible for arguably the largest disruption in IT infrastructure prior to cloud. Recently, VMware has seen themselves at the forefront of the hybrid cloud revolution. They highlighted the resiliency and economics of the VMC on AWS platform at CFD10, in addition to showing how they plan to improve the developer experience for VMC.
Oracle Cloud Infrastructure isn’t as visible as the well known cloud providers, but their pricing model for bare metal compute and network utilization have attracted some big name customers. OCI has also partnered with VMware to provide another cloud based VMware platform on top of OCI bare metal compute, just not as a wholly managed service. Dell Technologies also framed their CFD10 presentation around the VMware ecosystem with VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF) on VxRail. Dell continues to focus on this partnership to show how bringing modern cloud principles to private cloud can help accelerate hybrid cloud adoption.
Born in the cloud era
For all of the big names that have been around for quite some time, there seem to be even more new vendors bringing cloud native products to market. As customers continue to innovate in the cloud, it is apparent that vendors are looking at ways to fill in the gaps that the top public cloud players don’t provide. CFD10 was heavy on the data/storage side of things from a vendor perspective. Scality kicked off their conversation with a really interesting perspective about data sovereignty. It was refreshing to step away from the tech and talk about the social/cultural aspect of data, but they also spent time diving into their RING hybrid cloud storage platform and Zenko storage manager.
How to deal with state for modern applications has become a pretty hot topic. StorageOS presented their cloud native, software defined storage platform at CFD10. Some of the delegates commented that StorageOS kind of seemed like “vSAN for containers,” which is maybe a bit of an over-generalization. StorageOS can be deployed anywhere as a container to deliver a pool of virtualized storage that also integrates with Kubernetes. The intent seems to be enabling developers to easily build state into an app without needing to worry about the underlying infrastructure.
As customers move into the cloud, data sprawl can become a large problem. Komprise showed how their intelligent data platform can be leveraged across all clouds for file and object storage to help make decisions around cost and governance. Komprise uses metadata to perform deep analytics within the storage platform, allowing customers to make informed choices about migrations, data placement and public cloud costs.
Rounding out the vendors at CFD10 was Intel. Unlike the other vendors, Intel didn’t really have a cloud “product” that anyone could launch from a marketplace or purchase from a reseller. Rather, we got some insights into confidential computing and intelligent cloud. With Intel SGX and Intel Telemetry, we were presented with benefits that can be realized by running the cloud, rather than an actual product customers can currently grasp. Interesting conversations were had, albeit a bit scattered from the context of CFD10.
Cloud Field Day is an interesting experience because cloud is such a vast umbrella for both customers and vendors. If anything, cloud has made modern IT more complex given the almost limitless possibilities in how to create applications. Vendors that grew up in a VM-centric world may find it hard to mirror that success in public cloud. New cloud vendors have to compete with the name recognition of bigger companies and the hyper-scale public clouds themselves.
It is also very interesting to see the growth of VMware platforms within the public cloud. A colleague of mine used to tell me “VMware won’t even exist as a company five years from now” … and that was about four years ago. The future certainly may be Kubernetes, Serverless or some other abstraction that has yet to take hold. In the meantime, the present is still more than viable for VMs, containers, Oracle DBs, HCI and so on.
The landscape of modern IT is so huge that it doesn’t have to be one general thing. It can be lots of different things for lots of different reasons. I’ve talked to so many customers that just want to know what the “best practice” is for utilizing say, AWS. That is an impossible question to answer when the customer/organization/application really holds the key to what is necessary to start down that path. The cloud is for all of us, and we have amazing tools at our grasp to both replatform the present and build limitless possibilities for the future.