Thursday, August 2, 2012

Commoditization on CMP(*) market.

(*) CMP - Cloud Management Platform

Let's start with a bit of definitons:
  1.  "Commodification (also called commoditization) occurs as a goods or services market loses differentiation across its supply base, often by the diffusion of the intellectual capital necessary to acquire or produce it efficiently. (Source:

  1. CMP (Cloud Management Platform) are integrated products that provide for the management of public, private and hybrid cloud environments. The minimum requirements to be included in this category are products that incorporate self-service interfaces, provision system images, enable metering and billing, and provide for some degree of workload optimization through established policies. More-advanced offerings may also integrate with external enterprise management systems, include service catalogs, support the configuration of storage and network resources, allow for enhanced resource management via service governors and provide advanced monitoring for improved "guest" performance and availability. A key ability of these products is the insulation of administrators of cloud services from proprietary cloud provider APIs, and thus they help IT organizations prevent lock-in by any cloud service or technology provider. The distinction between cloud management platforms (CMPs) and private clouds is that the former primarily provide the upper levels of a private cloud architecture, i.e., the service management and access management tiers, and thus do not always provide an integrated cloud "stack" (Source: Hype Cycle for Real-Time Infrastructure, Gartner 2011)

As we can see, in order  to be commoditized you needs to lose differentiation and this something that I'm observing in CMP market. We have number of CMP platforms available. Some are commercial (vCloud Director, Abiquo, Nebula) and some are opensource (Openstack, Cloudstack, Eucalyptus). Even they differ in some areas - the core functionality is very common: deliver VM's on demand and provide robust API for it. By purpose I'm not drilling down into other features as those mentioned are most relevant to topic I'm going to develop.
"VM on demand" - this is to me good characteristic of Cloud Management Platform - as this is something that was a starting point for Amazon EC2 and it's a starting point for many followers. Famous "DevOps" term (which is characterizing application development teams who are taking ownership of infrastructure  operations)  was born actually in Amazon where dev teams were given an API for infrastructure in order to facilitate process development.
Question I'm asking myself whether "VM on demand" is a service by itself for business customer. I really doubt it. Business customer is looking for something more business oriented. For something that is more aligned to his business processes. Good example of business customer is IT departament - who was tasked by company board to introduce cloud to the company. They will be looking for an operator who will provide do them "business service" no only bare VM. They will be looking for virtuak servers which are wrapped in service contracts & SLA. Very often they will be looking for clever application datastore from which they will be able to install applications. They will be asking what infrastructure is underneath, whether is redundant and how many levels of redundancy it have. Compliance checks are absolutely essential. This will be all needed before they move their business applications into given cloud.
Having said that - we need to wrap VM's into something more elaborated to become business service. Hence the need for smart service catalog which will help create those business services. Business users - are expecting business interface - not just API - which is mainly for DevOps/techies. Having said that CMP is only a subset, building block for Service Providers and Enterprises who want to build business oriented cloud for business users.
In order to build whole service delivery platform we'll need the following building blocks:
  • Business Portal (Marketplace) and Service Catalog
  • Orchestration Layer that orchestrates following domains:
    • Cloud Domain - manage Cloud Management Platform which provides "VM's on demand"
    • Network Domain - that automates network infrastructure (whole suite is not only set of virtual networks but as well whole chain of real switches, routers and service appliances like loadbalancers and firewalls.
    • Physical Compute domain - something that automates baremetal servers
    • Physical Storage domain - something that manages block storage (which later on can be turned into filesystem

Of course we expect from Service Delivery platform good enforcements for business processes like: approvals, delegations of authority etc.... Alltogether it should represent business oriented solution which is catering for business users.

Summarizing, it's not enough to take from the market CMP to say that "we build a business cloud". CMP is a commodity and they only cloud you can built with it is a commodity cloud. In order to differentate - you need to focus on what business user is looking for and to do that you need to build whole business oriented  service delivery platform where CMP is only a small component.

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