Category: Infrastructure

ArchitectureInfrastructure

Polynimbus is the future of the cloud

There’s so much competition in the cloud computing space. According to Forbes, the Cloud Providers at the top in the current “Cloud War” are Microsoft, Amazon, and IBM, followed by many other players in the industry. This battle is made up of these major corporations spending Billion or Trillions of dollars investing in cloud innovation and advancement. While each of these companies would like to be the victor and win the “Cloud War”; it’s probably best for everyone that there is no clear “winner” in the end.

Polynimbus Strategy

Polynimbus is the term used to refer to the strategy of an organization utilizing multiple Cloud Providers. Polynimbus is also referred to as “Multi-Cloud”. This enables organizations to utilize the best features and pricing of each cloud provider for different solutions where they fit the solutions, data, and workload best. This is an extremely common pattern in use by all major corporations as they migrate to the Cloud to replace their on-premises datacenters.

Polynimbus Cloud Strategy: A cloud computing strategy that involves multiple Cloud Providers / Vendors.

Polynimbus is not just a great strategy to gain the benefits and features of multiple Cloud Providers within a single organization, but it’s something that benefits the technology industry in many other ways too.

Benefits of Polynimbus for the Enterprise

There are a number of benefits that a Polynimbus cloud strategy brings. These benefits range from effecting a single organization, all the way to effecting the entire Internet.

Here’s a list of the most notable benefits that a Polynimbus strategy brings to an individual organizations overall cloud strategy:

  • Time to Market – Services and Feature comparison and trade-offs are able to be made to choose the best cloud provider for deploying, hosting, and managing solutions in regards to cloud capabilities, and Developer/IT Pro ramp up curve and time to market.
  • Cost Optimization – Cost comparisons and trade-offs are able to be made to choose the best cloud provider for deploying, hosting, and managing solutions in regards to hosting cost and budgets.
  • Integration Between Clouds – While most applications and systems will be most appropriately hosted utilizing a single Cloud Provider for that single system, there are times where it may be appropriate to utilize services and features across multiple clouds to best build, deploy, and manage that single system.

The above benefits of Polynimbus may sound a bit simple, but they are pretty broad reaching in their effect on an organization. The benefits factor into some major implications to the future of the solutions hosted, as well as the overall cloud strategy an organization is adopting.

Benefits of Polynimbus for the World

The overall Internet and technology industry benefits of Polynimbus Here’s a list of the most notable benefits that a Polynimbus strategy brings to the Internet, the overall technology industry, and beyond:

  • Decentralized / Distribution of Control –  While each Cloud Provider does implement multiple data centers that are geo-distributed around the world, they are still owned an operated by that single corporation that controls that particular Cloud Provider platform and ecosystem. The best design the Internet has come up with is to build the DNS system as a distributed system spread all across the world. This same strategy is probably best for Cloud Computing as well, so that no single entity is in control of the entire Cloud. This is one benefit that comes from the competitive nature of the current state of the cloud.
  • Competition – Just all other industries benefit from competition, the technology industry benefits too. Having multiple players in the Cloud Provider space increases the amount of competition between players. With this increased competition comes an increase the the variety and push for innovation across the different Cloud Computing platforms being offered. If you look at the history between Microsoft and Amazon (for example) you’ll see they’ve been leap frogging each other on Cloud features and capabilities over the years. This offers great variety and innovation for all companies to take advantage of regardless of the Cloud Provider they’re using.

A Polynimbus Future

Just about every organization adopting the Cloud, as well as migrating their on-premises or co-lo hosted data centers to the Cloud, are adopting a Polynimbus Strategy involving multiple Cloud Providers. They might only be adoption a single Cloud Provider, such as Microsoft Azure, at first. However, down the line the pattern in the industry is showing that corporations are adopting multiple Cloud Providers.

Just about every organization adopting the Cloud, as well as migrating their on-premises or co-lo hosted data centers to the Cloud, are adopting a Polynimbus Strategy involving multiple Cloud Providers.

One such example of a major corporation utilizing a Polynimbus Strategy is that of Apple. For a long time Apple was utilizing both Amazon AWS and Microsoft Azure to host the backend of its iCloud service. More recently, there’s been indication that Apple may not be using Microsoft Azure anymore, as they may have migrated to using a combination of Amazon AWS and Google Cloud instead.

It can be extremely beneficial to utilize a Polynimbus Strategy, as well as a Hybrid-Cloud Strategy that still make use of the on-premises data center investments where they make sense. Going all in on any specific technology or platform is generally not the best approach to building out any solution. It’s best to choose the right tool for the job at hand, and to utilize multiple tools to truly customize the solution to fit the need and requirements in the best possible way.

It can be extremely beneficial to utilize a Polynimbus Strategy, as well as a Hybrid-Cloud Strategy that still make use of the on-premises data center investments where they make sense.

If you have any suggestions on designing a Polynimbus Strategy, Hybrid-Cloud Strategy, or Both, please post them in the comments. I’m sure everyone joins me in their eagerness to hear the communities suggestions on what to keep in mind when designing your organizations Polynimbus and Hybrid Cloud strategies.

History Fact: The term “Polynimbus” used to refer to a “Multi-Cloud” strategy of adopting multiple cloud providers / vendors was first coined by John Adams in 2016 while he was working as a Senior Cloud Solutions Architect at Opsgility.

InfrastructureVideo

Underwater Azure Datacenter with Project Natick

Microsoft Project Natick is an innovative research project to discover new ways of hosting datacenters underwater. The goal of this research project is to determine the feasibility of subsea datacenters powered by offshore, renewable energy. Since 50% of the Earths population lives near the coast, this has potential to host data and compute capacity for Cloud computing much closer to customers and end users. There are also some other benefits as well.

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DevOpsInfrastructurePowerShell

Using Chocolatey with Azure VMs

Automate Everything. That’s my new mantra, and it should be yours…

Like many of you, I’m an infrastructure guy and grew up with the crutches of setup.exe and the massive installers that MSFT built in the late 90’s and 2000’s. But, that was then, and today all of us need to become DevOps engineers! It used to be when we built servers they would have a lifespan of many years, but now there is a new type of VM that might only live for a day or even less.

The concept of deleting a server would have scared the daylights out of me in 2002!? Yikes!

In this new world of Azure, we should be building VMs that are purpose-built and automated in their deployment end to end. We want the teams that are consuming these servers to be ready to work as soon as they login.

Windows, Linux, and Azure provide us with many tools to make that happen such as ARM templates, PowerShell or Yum and Apt on Linux. These tools can work together with the custom script extension for Windows or Linux to build out our VMs. Read More

DevOpsInfrastructureportalPowerShell

Nested VMs in Azure with one click? You must be crazy…

When I first heard that you could run nested VMs with Azure, I ran over to my laptop to deploy one of those shiny new Version 3 VMs!

Once my Host was provisioned, I got right to work.  Quickly adding the Hyper-V role and after a quick reboot, I started downloading ISOs!  And before you know it I was disappointed.  Yeah, I had a VM running, but after searching the internet for hours, I gave up.  I never could get the thing talking to the Internet.

Well, fast forward a few months and a client of mine asked if we could build a self-provisioning Nested Hyper-V Host in Azure that would pull down pre-configured VMs and start them with only one click?  I was excited. There is nothing cooler than getting to figure something out while you are getting paid.  Well, it wasn’t easy to figure out, but what I have for you here is the fruit of that labor! Read More

Azure CLIInfrastructure

Securing Azure Virtual Machines using Network Security Groups (NSGs)

Security, Security!

This is top of mind for everyone these days and Azure has many security features.  Today we are going to explore the world of Network Security Groups (NSGs) and their use on Virtual Machines and traffic into and out of Virtual Networks.

A network security group (NSG) is a networking filter (firewall) containing a list of security rules allowing or denying network traffic to resources connected to Azure VNets. These rules can manage both inbound and outbound traffic. NSGs can be associated to subnets and/or individual Network Interfaces attached to ARM VMs and Classic VMs. Each NSG has the following properties regardless of where it is associated:

  • Name for the NSG
  • Azure region where the NSG is located
  • resource group
  • Rules either Inbound or Outboard defining what traffic is allowed or denied

When a NSG is associated to a subnet, the rules apply to all resources connected to the subnet. Traffic can be further restricted by also associating a NSG to a VM or NIC. NSGs that are associated to subnets are said to be filtering “North/South” traffic (in other words, packets flowing in and out of a subnet). NSGs that are associated to Network Interfaces are said to be filtering “East/West” traffic (in other words, how the VMs within the subnet connect to each other). Read More

Azure CLIInfrastructure

Azure CLI 2.0: Convert VM to Managed Disks

Traditionally, Azure Virtual Machines (VMs) would use an Azure Storage Account to store the VM Disk Images for the VM. This required explicit management of what Storage Accounts contained which and how many VM Disks; both OS Disks and Data Disks. To simplify the management of the VM Disks, Microsoft released a newer feature (that is now the recommended best practice) called Azure Managed Disks. Managed Disks allow you to store the VM Disk imaged (both OS and Data disks) in Azure without the need to manage what Storage Accounts are used. You simple create Managed Disks, and the Azure platform takes care of all the management and scalability necessary.

When creating a Virtual Machine in Microsoft Azure, you can choose whether to use Managed Disks or not. Even though this can be chosen now at creating time, you may still have a number of Virtual Machines that are not using Managed Disks. Thankfully, Microsoft has provided tooling within the Azure CLI that enables you to easily Convert a VM to use Managed Disks.

Let’s take a look at this below… Read More

ArchitectureInfrastructure

Azure Availability Zones

One of the largest gaps that Azure has had when compared to the competition has been the lack of high-availability options.  The most glaring has been the lack of Availability Zones, which have been available in all the main providers such as AWS, Google and even Oracle.

Basically, Availability Zones allow cloud admins to deploy cloud resources to separate datacenters within a region.  This ensures that applications will remain online even if one of the provider’s datacenters go down.

Microsoft has announced a public preview of their Availability Zones to help protect you from datacenter-level failures. These Availability Zones are located inside an Azure region, and each one has its own independent power source, network, and cooling. These zones are separate datacenters which are located “10’s of miles”, from each other.  Microsoft has super-fast network connections between the zones, and have stated that they maintain very strict rules on the network latency between these datacenters. Read More

Azure StackInfrastructure

Azure Stack Capacity Planner Excel Spreadsheet

The Microsoft Azure Stack documentation team has released a new Azure Stack Capacity Planner. This planner is intended to help assist in the pre-purchase planning efforts for determining the appropriate capacity and configuration of Azure Stack hardware solutions.

It will help you make informed decisions in the following 2 ways:

  1. Selecting a hardware offering and attempting to fit a combination of resources
  2. Defining the workload that Azure Stack is intended to run to view available SKUs that can support it

The Azure Stack Capacity Planner is built out as an Excel spreadsheet that is intended to support the normal investigation and analysis during the planning phase of discovering what resources are necessary for an Azure Stack hardware solution. It’s important to keep in mind that this is not a replacement for the normal process, but a tool that is meant to help determine what is needed to be purchased. Read More

Infrastructure

How to Setup an Ubuntu Linux VM in Azure with Remote Desktop (RDP) Access

Some time back I wrote about doing Visual Studio development with an Azure Virtual Machine (VM). In that article, I showed how you can setup a Windows VM for Development purposes to extend your local development machine with the help of the cloud. In this article, I want to share some tips I’ve found in how to setup a Linux VM in Azure that you can use for similar purposes. Read More