European Cloud Conference, what’s in it for us?

Last Wednesday we visited the European Cloud conference. Main driver for Schuberg Philis was to see what the main issues in Europe are to become ‘Cloud Active’. The agenda was rather clear, what will the cloud bring for the European economy, how will the rules of the game evolve and how do we fund all the r&d that is needed to get ahead of the game?


The difference in knowledge about and tangibility with the cloud in the panel was obvious. Strategy, education, legislation vs where do we stand with standards, what is currently happening in the field, how do you approach media consumption and media creation? What about data portability and integrity?

The cloud for you and me is happening for a while now. SMB’s and start ups create jobs over and over by using cloud in their business models. They are changing economy by using the internet as we speak. Every day. Joe Baguley said it nicely by naming ruby as the new latin. We need people that can mold, combine, present, order the ever changing world of data.

For us the conclusion is that we are cloud active already. Our beta mission critical cloud is up and running internally and in testing phase. We are far with ideas about opening up this cloud for the benefit of Europe and SBP. For us it will create jobs for sure, but by giving our customers and future customers a head start as well, they will create jobs as well. No doubt about it.

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Functionality needs Front end design and development

While developing great functionality we face our next challenge. Not an unexpected one, but one we have to fix. Front end design and development for our internal developed web apps. And with our cloud initiative taking off big time. The self service front end for cloud stack needs some real tlc as well.

So next on the task list: find the best front end developer that is dreaming about doing good. Good for themselves, customers, our company and the society. First thoughts. Json, jquery, rest, jmvc, xml. Attitude: open, flexible, fast learner.

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Making the transition between cloud friendly to cloud active

21 March, Brussels will host the European Cloud Computing Conference. Title is not so interesting, but the speakers are. European parliament, European commission and some elephants like oracle, tsystems and dell.

The most interesting part is the contribution and the enthusiasm from the European Committee. Mainly two reasons are driving this enthisiasm. A bigger global voice next to the US centric position of the big cloud providers and the aim for standardization in the cloud.

Next to that the EU believes that cloud in its biggest definition will change the economy as we know it. And that is a very interesting statement. Internet already changed society big time. Those who have information and those who dont have information.
Economy wise we see opportunities all over the place. Look at etsy, look at start ups like spanx. From 0 to hero in only a few months. And that worldwide. Look at the struggle the old economy has with internet. Movies, music, books, television. Totally different concepts are being born every day to earn money. Old concepts just dont work.

But back to the Conference. One of the sessions will explore the issues that Cloud Computing raises with regards to data security, privacy and liability, both within the EU and globally. What clarification on data ownership and on responsibility over data loss or data leakage is needed? To what extent do current laws governing international data transfers need to be updated to take into account the new era of cloud computing? How far does Commissioner Reding’s review of the EU data protection directive go in doing this? Will a well-defined Cloud legislation guaranteeing data protection be enough to overcome concerns over security and to gain the confidence of potential users? How can regulators balance the need to safeguard data with the important goal of ensuring the uptake of the Cloud is not jeopardized? To what extent can legal and regulatory solutions be co-ordinated at a global level, and how can European legislation be integrated with other data laws, for example the US Patriot Act? Where legal conflicts remain when dealing with third countries, how can it be ascertained where the precedence lies? To what extent can the creation of EU based cloud computer centres be used to help simplify the legislative maze? (source)

For Schuberg Philis this will be very important. We know the rules of the game. We know Sas70, basel II, III, Remit, IAS, ISO27001, Cobit, etc.. But that could very well be the bare minimum. Economy and standards are changing. Also on a security level. Lets see if we can use our experience to not only be a first mover in this new economy. But to define the rules of the game as well.

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Beyond the dev and ops marriage – Part II

And we have lift off. Two great speakers have said yes. and will be talking at Topic is clear. The exact names of the talks are not.

We as a mission critical outsourcing provider guarantee 100% uptime. As an outsourcing provider there is always a separation between the development parties (Customers and PArtners) and Schuberg Philis. Our way of working is to embrace those parties as if they were Schuberg.

That is an easy thing to say, but sometimes it is hard work. See Kris’s talk about werewolves vs vampires is clear about it. Sometimes the first focus is flexibility vs stability. The first focus should be the combination of those two. Hence the need to spent a lot of time together. We all know it, we only do not live it.

This event will be great. Really looking forward to it. Btw did I mention the java master Spark404 will help me organize the event?

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The mission critical cloud aka McCloud

And of we go. Yesterday and today we talked, designed and scoped a lot. And the development of release 1 is started.

The PoC is finalized. We have learned a lot. Openstack is great with all it options. Great with the speed of the community, but not there yet if you take a look at our needs. Cloudstacks maturity, its open caracter an the learning curve of our team gave them a head start.

Our first production worthy cloud will be based on this product. Coming days we will start designing a Layer3, a rack diagram (as a basis for future pods), an information flow, a self service portal. The architecture is not finalized yet, but we are getting close. Xen and ESX as hypervisors, probably we start with open source storage concept (yes, we bypass Netapp, BlueArc, EMC for a reason in this stage).
Looking at the datacenter setup, things are clear already. We start withdual datacenter active active. We do not want outages that heroku suffered last period. Hell yeah, we are mission critical for a reason. Datacenters connected via CWDM.

Next thing is to set up a nice sprint. Jira is ready, the team is created. Tomorrow we’ll break up the epics in stories and tasks. We will burn like crazy the next weeks.

Its a bold goal. Building a cloud in only 4 weeks. But if you aim at nothing……

Keep you posted

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Beyond the dev and ops marriage

Beginning of this month (see previous post), we worked with customers and partners on joint goals.

We all know that these things are easily said. But not easily done. Peter Drucker says: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast”. John Allspaw mentioned it in his talk about post mortems. Creating a culture of jointly doing things is plain hard word. Nevertheless it is not hard. It is just plain hard work.

Why do you have dev and ops in the same room when the issues are already there! Why do you give devs information when they ask for it and not all the time (automated). The answer is often easy but confronting. I do not know them and i do not trust them. But think about it. No one comes to work to do a bad job. All of us want a customer with a smile on his face.

Lets see if we can organise a great event for partners, customers, colleagues and future collegues. Beyond the dev and ops marriage. Thats sounds like the right title for this event.

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We will start building “The Mission Critical Cloud”!

After only a few weeks of investigation, proof of concepts of Cloudstack, Openstack, Chef, and all the other buzzwords and sexy products we give it a go. In a few months time we will not be offering only public clouds, like we do for a number of years now. We will be building  something new as well.

This is what we have come up with. 1. Very specialized heterogeneous clouds. Private ones that run totally on own hardware. No shared components whatsoever. The customers are in total control of their stack. On every level. Technology, change windows, audit and control, security, you name it. But next to that we will implement “the mission critical cloud”. A cloud that has all the pre conditions that we need to meet to have Safe Harbours, to avoid government rules like the patriot act, a future Sopa, but most important that meets all the quality goals that we aim for. A shared cloud that is ISO27001 certified. That can be SAS70 if asked by customers. This cloud will be for a subset of our customers. Think about the following scenario’s.

a) My online sales shop needs extra capacity for Christmas. Possible solution: Use the private cloud acceptance systems capacity for production and use ec2 api’s to move acceptnace temporary to the “Mission Critical Cloud”.

b) My campaign platform is less critical than my webshop. And next to that, my campaigns only run a month or two. It would be a waist to host dedicated hardware for this. This would be an excellent candidate for the mission critical cloud.

c) A bit more far fetched. We as a company want to do good for the society. Call it sustainable, call it green. Wouldn’t it be great to have some cloud capacity that we can donate to the greater benefit of this world? Example given, A university project, a big fundraiser, a small start up in a less developed country that needs a head start.

d) …

Like i said, interesting times to come. This company I work for is great. we can reinvent ourselves over and over again. Lets see if we can amaze our customers with this initiative.

btw if you have marvelous ideas about what we can use the mission critical cloud for, please let me know.


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(EPC) European Cloud Partnership

Just got my invite from the European Committee for the European Cloud Partnership. Exiting times ahead!

We truly believe that the cloud in its current shape is great. It is full of possibilities and new adventures. But we are only at the beginning. The mission critical cloud, that can meet all the requirements from both governments, ngo’s and businesses is invented as we speak. Rules and regulations are invented for a reason, lets embrace them by building something spectacular.

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Which open source cloud product is the base for the mission critical one?

Openstack or Cloudstack? Which product will it be. Or will it be an evolution of the infra deployment software we have written ourselves? Three weeks ago we started a PoC. The goal is simple:”Push button deploy of infra with the basic subset of ops functionality”.

Getting a system live is not a difficult task. Most people tell me that it is, but it isnt always the case. We should not forget the difference between a shitload of work and a very complex task. Unraveling, reverse engineer 16 years of legacy without the people that created the spagetti. That is the complex and difficult part. Running systems that differ like day and night, that is the complex stuff. Building the underlaying infra is not difficult. It is complex. But it is applying the same concepts, the same standards over and over. That should be automated.

So what is it that we really want to achieve? We want a system (PaaS if you like or IaaS maybe) that can build our initial design for a customer with a push on the button. We design a L3 / L7 architecture. We know how we feel and think about security. We are aware of flexibility requirements (private mission critical cloud, SBP Fog (Shared internal cloud) and the public Cloud (ec2 e.g.)).

The infrastructure is not as it was ten years ago. The infrastructure is becoming a commodity. We have the smartes people within Schuberg Philis and the deserve to work on the most complex puzzles. Not on jumpstarting just another machine. Not on installing a log server for the 5th time in a year. Do not get me wrong. They need to understand how these systems work, but they should spent their time on where we can make the difference as a company. And that time is with the customer and with the software partners.

Interesting times are about to happen. I’ll keep you posted once in a while.

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Here it is: The mission critical cloud

At my company, Schuberg Philis we do things for a reason. And it better be a darn good reason. We believe that happy customers are the norm. That is not something special. We believe that doing good is the standard. We believe that being proud about your work is something you should grow in your company.

Last week our entire ‘system’ spent three days together. The entire system is, customers, partners, contracters, all our staff. We worked together to define our next purpose in live. We had fun together and we talked about the dreams we have.

The vibe that this created is great. It fits the goals we try to achieve ourselves. Building a Mission Critical Cloud. A system that is there for the business of our customers. A system that is flexible. A system that is robust. A system that is reliable. A system that is transparent. And all of this with great people who build everything there minds can think of and with fun people that are extremely nice to be around with.

Bring it on.


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