Will the cloud break?

The new Premiership season is well under way, every manager hoping star talent and ‘squad strength’ will see his team through the late autumn sun to the dark cloudy evenings of winter. There will be huge disappointments, but a new season, like the latest technology, promises much.

One tactic to reduce risk is to have the maximum resources available. But in IT, like football, this costs money. Virtualization is driving hardware costs down, but Cloud Computing, which promises almost infinitely low-cost resources, could mean more own goals.

The Cloud is simply a virtual datacenter shared (multi-tenanted) by several organizations. The logic is simple – why pay for 100% of a machine which runs only 20% of the time? A fully virtualized application moves resources onto and off The Cloud rapidly. Imagine watching MOTD while being able to substitute virtual players from your favourite X-Box game.

The reality of such ‘rapid substitutions’ is messy. Those promised cost benefits require more IT management. Virtual Appliances may only be data files, but large and active ones, which are paged frantically. Some applications, such as databases, are so memory-intensive that a move to The Cloud can kill performance.

The Cloud changes where applications store data, affecting both I/O and CPU contention. The overheads needed by Virtual Appliance cocoons or the Cloud Operating system impact user response times, directly affecting application performance.

Today’s mere Hot Spot analysis of traffic volumes will not be enough. All transactions are not equal. Leading to a ‘Superleague’ of corporate transactions, too important to be ‘demoted’ to the Cloud for fear their performance cannot be guaranteed. The real solution needs to correlate Cloud events, like virtual appliance migrations, with business service levels. Challenging or impossible? Transaction Performance Management (TPM) solutions are evolving to solve just such a challenge.

TPM tunes the application, appliances and the Cloud OS, matching virtual appliances to the correct storage devices, based on patterns of storage access and by business priority. This allows prioritization and charge back for higher value transactions. Such advanced TPM delivers:

  • Parameters for optimized virtual application performance
  • Guidance to the Cloud Operating System (OS) on virtual appliance invocations
  • Guidance to the Cloud OS on the dynamic allocation of application workloads
  • Guidance to the Cloud OS on virtual appliance scheduling to avoid resource contentions

The economic benefits of The Cloud are irresistible. But no CIO would trade business-critical transactions failure for even a tenfold cost saving. Losing a match, albeit with bargain strikers, is unacceptable. The IT industry momentum behind Cloud, means it cannot fail and is therefore just a Cloud-ready TPM solution away from deployment in production.

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Zohar Gilad is a seasoned enterprise software executive. Before joining Precise, Zohar held several senior executive positions with Mercury Interactive, acquired by HP in 2006. From 2000-2003, as the General Manager of the Application Management business unit, he helped grow the business from $0 to about $100M a year. Prior to joining Mercury, Zohar held software development positions at IBM and Daisy Systems.