Posts Tagged 'Jargon'

January 20, 2011

Blurring the Line Between Dedicated and Cloud Service

What does "the cloud" mean to you right now? Does it mean "the Internet?" Is it how you think of outsourced IT? Does the nephologist in you immediately think of the large cumulonimubus creeping up the sky from the South? We read about how businesses are adopting cloud-this and cloud-that, but under many definitions we have been using cloud servers for years.

A couple years ago, Kevin wrote a post that gave a little context to the "cloud" terminology confusion:

The Internet is everywhere and the Internet is nowhere.

The fact that we can't point to anything tangible to define the Internet forces us to conceptualize an image that helps us understand how this paradox is possible. A lot of information is sitting around on servers somewhere out there, and when we connect to it, we have access to it all. Cloud, web, dump truck, tubes ... It doesn't matter what we call it because we're not defining the mechanics, we're defining the concepts.

For years, hosting companies have offered compute resources over the Internet for a monthly fee, but as new technologies emerge, it seems we have painted ourselves into a corner with our terminology. For the sake of this discussion, we'll differentiate dedicated servers as single-tenant hardware-dependent servers and cloud servers as multi-tenant hardware-independent servers.

Dedicated servers have some advantages that cloud servers typically haven't had in the past. If you wanted full OS support and control, predictable CPU and disk performance, big Internet pipes, multiple storage options and more powerful networking support, you were in the market for a dedicated server. If your priorities were hourly rates, instant turn-up, image-based provisioning and control via API, cloud servers were probably at the top of your shopping list.

Some competitive advantages of one over the other are fading: SoftLayer has a bare metal product that supports hourly rates for dedicated resources, and we can reliably turn up dedicated servers in under 2 hours. If you select a ready-made box, you might have it up and running in under 30 minutes. Our development team has also built a great API that allows unparalleled control for our dedicated servers.

On the flip-side, our cloud servers are supported just like our dedicated servers: You get the same great network, the ability to connect with other cloud and dedicated instances via private network, and predictable CPU usage with virtual machines pinned to a specific number of CPU cores.

Soon enough, deltas between dedicated performance and cloud functionality will be virtually eliminated and we'll all be able to adopt a unified understanding of what this "cloud" thing is, but until then, we'll do our best to express the competitive advantages of each platform so you can incorporate the right solutions for your needs into your infrastructure.

Engage ...


October 8, 2008

Mulch Ado About Nothing

A couple of weekends ago, I decided to enjoy some of the cooler temperatures (yes 90 degrees in Dallas is considered a cold front in September) and take care of a little yard work. One of my tasks was cleaning up the flower beds and installing a fresh batch of mulch. At my side was my trusty, eager, and willing sidekick “Deuce”, my three year old son. When I grabbed my shiny new shovel, he ran to the garage to grab his shiny blue (plastic) shovel. There was a question for every move and every object that was foreign to him “What’s that?”, “That’s yours?”, “Where’s mine?” Is there any thing called child physics, because with my kid, for every action, there is an equal and opposite question.

Anyway, with the weeds all pulled and the shrubs all trimmed, it was time to pull out that big bag of cedar mulch. As soon as I opened the bag, Deuce opened his mouth, “What’s that?” “Mulch” I replied. He looked at the bag; looked at me; back to the bag; then back at me… He gave me a confused look of disbelief and said almost disappointedly, “That’s wood sips!” (He has a little trouble with “ch” sounds sometimes). “That’s wood sips daddy!” he said again this time raising a palm full of chips above his head to make sure I got a good look of the stuff that I had mistakenly referred to as mulch. At that point, I was reminded by my three year old of a lesson that was taught and repeated to me many times before; “Call it like you see it!”

I think a lot of individuals, organizations and companies get in their own way by trying to characterize $2 tasks with $10 words. I’ve been as guilty as everyone else, more so in my experiences as a project manager than anything else. I’ve asked for an estimate on the release of the agreed upon deliverables that I and other stakeholders have a vested interest in before when I could have easily just asked “When will you have that done for us?” There’s no room for misinterpretation there? There’s irony in the thought that part of the purpose of the project management “discipline” is to promote a common language to make it easier to engage with others involved in the project. I’m not making that up.

At SoftLayer, we have an assortment of people from various professional, geographical and personal backgrounds. Though we do have “projects” that we “manage” we try not to get caught up in volleying high dollar “project management” verbiage over cubicle walls. We can’t afford to get things lost in communication so we tend to “call it like we see it”. I encourage you to try it for yourself. The next time you’re tempted to request the outputs from the user validation activities on your project, simply ask for the test results. The next time you’re tempted to order a “Grande Drip” from Starbucks, ask for a medium coffee. And, the next time you head to your local hardware store for a day of gardening on a “not so hot” hot day, be sure to get a big bag of “wood sips!”


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