The Conspecific Hybrid Cloud

When you’re looking to add new tank mates to an existing aquarium  ecosystem, one of the concerns you must have is whether a particular  breed of fish is amenable to conspecific cohabitants. Many species are  not, which means if you put them together in a confined space, they’re  going to fight. Viciously. To the death. Responsible aquarists try to  avoid such situations, so careful attention to the conspecificity of animals is a must.

Now,  while in many respects the data center ecosystem correlates well to an  aquarium ecosystem, in this case it does not. It’s what you usually get,  today, but its not actually the best model. That’s because what you  want in the data center ecosystem – particularly when it extends to  include public cloud computing resources – is conspecificity in infrastructure.

This  desire and practice is being seen both in enterprise data center  decision making as well as in startups suddenly dealing with massive  growth and increasingly encountering performance bottlenecks over which  IT has no control to resolve.


One of the biggest negatives to a hybrid architectural approach to cloud computing is the lack of operational consistency.  While enterprise systems may be unified and managed via a common  platform, resources and delivery services in the cloud are managed using  very different systems and interfaces. This poses a challenge for all  of IT, but is particularly an impediment to those responsible for devops  – for integrating and automating provisioning of the application  delivery services required to support applications. It requires diverse  sets of skills – often those peculiar to developers such as programming  and standards knowledge (SOAP, XML) – as well as those traditionally  found in the data center.


“We own the base, rent the spike. We want a hybrid operation. We love knowing that shock absorber is there.” – Allan Leinwand, Zynga’s Infrastructure CTO

Other  bottlenecks were found in the networks to storage systems, Internet  traffic moving through Web servers, firewalls' ability to process the  streams of traffic, and load balancers' ability to keep up with  constantly shifting demand.
Zynga uses Citrix Systems CloudStack  as its virtual machine management interface superimposed on all zCloud  VMs, regardless of whether they're in the public cloud or private cloud.
Inside Zynga’s Big Move To Private Cloud by InformationWeek’s Charles Babcock

This  operational inconsistency also poses a challenge in the codification of  policies across the security, performance, and availability spectrum as  diverse systems often require very different methods of encapsulating  policies. Amazon security groups are not easily codified in  enterprise-class systems, and vice-versa. Similarly, the options  available to distribute load across instances required to achieve  availability and performance goals are impeded by lack of consistent  support for algorithms across load balancing services as well as differences in visibility and health monitoring that prevent a cohesive set of operational policies to govern the overall architecture.

Thus  if hybrid cloud is to become the architectural model of choice, it  becomes necessary to unify operations across all environments – whether  public or enterprise.


We  are seeing this demand more and more, as enterprise organizations seek  out ways to integrate cloud-based resources into existing architectures  to support a variety of business needs – disaster recover, business  continuity, and spikes in application demand. What customers are  demanding is a unified approach to integrating those resources, which  means infrastructure providers must be able to offer solutions that can  be deployed both in a traditional enterprise-class model as well as a  public cloud environment.

This is also true for organizations  that may have started in the cloud but are now moving to a hybrid model  in order to seize control of the infrastructure as a means to address  performance bottlenecks that simply cannot be addressed by cloud  providers due to the innate nature of a shared model.


This  ability to invoke and coordinate both private and public clouds is "the  hidden jewel" of Zynga's success, says Allan Leinwand, CTO of  infrastructure engineering at the company.

-- Lessons From FarmVille: How Zynga Uses The Cloud

While  much is made of Zynga’s “reverse cloud-bursting” business model, what  seems to be grossly overlooked is the conspecificity of infrastructure  required in order to move seamlessly between the two worlds. Whether at  the virtualization layer or at the delivery infrastructure layer, a  consistent model of operations is a must to transparently take advantage  of the business benefits inherent in a cross-environment, aka hybrid,  cloud model of deployment.

As organizations converge on a  hybrid model, they will continue to recognize the need and advantages of  an operationally consistent model – and they are demanding it be  supported. Whether it’s Zynga imposing CloudStack on its own  infrastructure to maintain compatibility and consistency with its public  cloud deployments or enterprise IT requiring public cloud deployable  equivalents for traditional enterprise-class solutions, the message is  clear: operational consistency is a must when it comes to  infrastructure.