Infrastructure Mashup

February 8, 2011 Leave a comment

Original post January 6, 2011  –

In a previous technology life I was fortunate enough to create really fun software targeted at the web. The fun part was creating logical units of work that could run independently of the container to which it was published. Other developers could then reuse the components within their applications internally to the company.  With advancements in web technology, the evolution of this technology and approach spawned into many of these building blocks created at first for internal consumption and then much later for public consumption.  The adoption and creation of the web mashup was born. Utilizing standard protocols made this a reality. As a developer I now had a ton of flexibility and tools to create applications built for utilization and consumption regardless of whether they were published internally or externally. The flexibility of the components alone was impressive; the only frustrating aspect was the lack of clear direction to what or how I should proceed. As with all technology adoption timing is everything. Today we have a number of applications that are completely made up of others services organized in a way that makes sense for a given business application.

Applying technology patterns and practices to other technology disciplines is very intriguing to me. Today I believe we are in a very exciting time in the industry where this pattern of a mashup can be re-applied.  Due impart to the cloud frenzy, it can now be applied to infrastructure.  This was evident to me when I saw multiple full page ads by vendors advertising cloud computing in the Wall Street Journal. Each ad with its own spin or interpretation on what the cloud is and why the consumer should care. The problem with all this advertising is that Cloud computing means something different to everyone. If I were an organization looking to put together a cloud initiative, I would be frustrated trying to figure out a direction.  The issue this situation presents is the wide array of implementation options, which can be a blessing and a curse. I call it the Cloud Infrastructure Mashup. I believe it’s not going to be a one size fits all approach, but one where each organization gets to choose the best services that meet their needs, and mash them up.

The Cloud offers many of the building blocks needed to build these infrastructure mashups.  Storage, applications, data platforms, network, communications, and hosted infrastructure can be delivered on-premise or in the cloud. Left out of the mix of offerings are desktops. Where are the desktops? More importantly, when are they going to be in the mix? Today the only way to offer desktops of this nature is to offer them via VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure).  Often times the mere mention of Virtual desktops is visited with adverse reactions. Many organizations have bought off on the promises of what VDI can provide, but testing reality proves to be dismal.   Desktops are one of the last great frontiers to tackle in this world of  cloud computing?

Microsoft and Google are trying to offer their OS in the cloud as well as many other vendors. Honestly I thought we were still a few years off from completely ditching the laptop or desktop for the cloud based operating systems–until now. I have used virtual desktops in the past and was along the line of thinking “VDI is generally pretty lame”. However, over the last month I have been made a believer of VDI, and this is the genesis of the mashup idea.

I am a solution architect for Fusion-io and the work I have been doing with one of my customers, V3 systems, is the catalyst for my change of heart. Their engineering staff helped me see the VDI light again with their solution.

V3 created an optimization layer for their purpose built VDI appliances that is coupled with  Fusion-io’s PCIe based solid state as local storage to offer the fastest, highest populated, and simplistic approaches to VDI I know of. All this happens regardless of the hypervisor.  I know how fast the Fusion-io storage is and I was blown away with what their optimization layer does with Fusion’s technology to provide unbelievable benefits for VDI.

So it came as no surprise that after some initial testing of 50 virtual desktops on one V3 appliance the cogs started to turn. My first thought was “I want a virtual desktop–in fact I want more than one.” The virtual desktops served up by the V3 appliance were night and day faster than my local box. Which happens to be an Intel i7 with 16gb of ram.  Hence the Infrastructure mashup concept was formed and a flood of old application mashup feelings came rush’n back…

Finally a viable approach to VDI that actually works and fulfilled the promises of what VDI should bring. Also a core building block for the cloud to give organizations functional VDI options, whether it is on the local LAN, WAN, hosted, or in someone else’s public/private cloud.

Organizations stand to gain the greatest benefit in this infrastructure mashup world. Internal IT organizations now have the ability to utilize compute power on-premise, public, or hosted. Or just like the application space a mixture of all clouds together at the same time to create a solution.  With so many options for the cloud, VDI solutions V3 has built will be the key in allowing organizations to dictate what the cloud means to them and how desktops can fill a giant void. The beauty here is that what the cloud means to one should mean something completely different to another. Organizations that approach it in this way like I said will be the true benefactors.  Delivering building block services in this case for VDI truly accelerate the viability of the cloud and how the cloud can be a strategic asset to any organization. I have full confidence in what V3 has accomplished will be game changing.  The last frontier for the cloud is here and companies can finally tackle how to solve the age old cliché of doing more with less.

This V3 Appliance is the first practical solutions to having computing power where you need it when you need it.  I look forward to having this type of compute power on a Google TV in my living room working faster than my local machine sitting on my desk.  From my perspective they got VDI right.  The beauty here is that V3 systems has the ability to grow this space, set the direction and provide a very feasible and adaptable approach to utilizing the cloud for desktops. Riding the wave of application mashups was really fun and I can only imagine that this wave will be exponentially greater in size and excitement.

Great work V3!  It will be exciting to see the direction and thought leadership you will provide to the VDI world.

Chris Featherstone is a Solution Architect for Fusion-io.  Fusion-io is a leading provider of data-centric computing solutions – a combination of hardware and software that places data closer to processing, resulting in dramatic improvements in both performance and efficiency.