Cloud Field Day 3; Day 2 – That One Thing….

Disclaimer: I attended Cloud Field Day as a guest of Gestalt IT. Whilst Gestalt paid for my travel, accommodation and other expenses, I am under no obligation to write anything about the event and the opinions below are entirely my own.

Following on from my previous post about the companies that presented at Cloud Field Day 3 on Day 1, here is my take on those that presented on Day 2.

Droplet
Rubrik
Riverbed
NetApp

Day 2 was pretty intense, with a 6.45am start to fit in 4 presentations including a start up officially coming out of stealth.

Droplet Computing

Droplet Computing were that startup, who officially launched at CFD3, having been in stealth since they were founded in 2014. They provide a way of bundling up an app into a container that can be run in a web browser. This is achieved by including enough of the Windows or Linux OS in the container, along with the app itself, for the app to run, and then the container uses a pretty new standard, Web Assembly, to execute in the browser. Due to its much smaller footprint, Linux is the preferred OS within the container, with WINE used to allow Windows apps to run within that container. Which is pretty cool and perhaps a little crazy to wrap your head around! You can see Fabian Hemmer go in to a good bit of detail about how this all fits together at CFD3 here; https://youtu.be/BRqWxDjOzEo?list=PLinuRwpnsHaeMJYd_LdJ4PMSzz_8GEAmz

Droplet Computing – That One Thing

The one thing that struck me about Droplet, apart from their unique approach, is that they perhaps need to maintain a careful balance between discussing what the product can be used for as oppose to what it should actually be used for. The team suggested a number of different examples and case studies;

  • Decoupling legacy apps from out of date operating systems (such as MRI software and Windows XP – hello WannaCry and the NHS)
  • Running old copies of Office on newer, now un-supported OS, such as Office 2003 now being able to run on top of Windows 10
  • Running full copies of software such as Office on your phone
  • Using inexpensive ARM devices to run full copies of x86 software
  • Enabling browser based delivery of thick client apps

I think for a lot of those examples there is an argument this is very neat solution and should be considered for, but I think some of the list above are examples of things Droplet could be used for but probably shouldn’t. Particularly around Office, which was used as an example throughout the presentation, Microsoft have developed support for a broad range of platforms, with bespoke, targeted feature sets for each platform, especially around mobile. I’m not sure I would want to use Droplet to run a full version of Word for the PC on my mobile instead of using the native Word app.

Its worth watching Steve Horne from Droplet Computing at CFD3 discuss some good examples of where Droplet has been used. You can find that here; https://youtu.be/l62rA4wYEw8

Rubrik

Rubrik were kind enough to also be the host for Droplet Computing, so after a quick coffee break we returned to our seats for Rubrik’s turn in the presenting ‘chair’. Rubrik have presented at 4 previous Field Days, but they haven’t previously delved into their Cloud Out functionality, nor had a chance to discuss there native AWS snapshot management capabilities or their new SaaS management tool, Polaris (although that would be a little difficult as Polaris was only launched the day before CFD3 and AWS snapshots are still in tech preview). So here was a chance for Rubik to delve into those aspects, as well as their capabilities for MSPs and recently added support for vCloud Director and vRealize Automation.

Rubrik – That One Thing

Rubrik have a great product offering and are adding new features continually. The addition of Polaris is a big step, something Chris Wahl referred to as Rubrik’s ‘second act’. As a SaaS application that unifies the management and visibility of all a customer’s Rubrik environments, that makes a lot of sense. And this might be harsh, but I felt a little underwhelmed by Polaris in its current form. I was hoping to see some sort of global file search functionally enabling global eDiscovery, some data analytics and data compliance scanning functions, machine learning, AI, automated cat memes etc etc – basically Rubrik lighting up the buzzword bingo scoreboard when you have access to a truck load of data. And in its current form Polaris doesn’t do that, which disappointment me slightly – it felt like the foundations are there but we’re yet to get access to the house. However, I’d be willing to bet these things will come in due course, especially now that the Polaris platform is in place and its SaaS based, which will allow rapid delivery of new features.

You can see Chris Wahl run through Polaris here; https://youtu.be/Lz8tV7mH67g

Riverbed

Riverbed are well established in the enterprise for WAN acceleration, which has a natural fit for cloud when ensuring network performance between that and on prem. With an intro presentation that included a reference to The Phoenix Project and The Goal, Riverbed set themselves a pretty high bar for what to expect in their presentations. Riverbed kicked off their presentations at CFD3 with an overview of their application management platform (APM), which competes with the likes of Dynatrace and New Relic, and whilst they went deep on the inherent problems of sampling rates, including some cool videos of ‘anti-gravity’ helicopters and slow mo lightning flashes (you can find that here – https://youtu.be/FAzsqBlYcjQ?t=42m49s), I think they may have lost the delegates on exactly how this did anything specifically different for cloud or cloud native applications, such as integrating with a service mesh such as Isito or integrating with AWS VPC flow logs.

Riverbed also demoed some WAN optimisation techniques, such as for SaaS – essentially placing a SteelHead appliance in IaaS close to where the SaaS application is being hosted.

Riverbed – That One Thing

The one section that Riverbed demoed and really interested me as it seemed to be completely rooted in the cloud was their SteelConnect product. This is a SaaS managed SD-WAN product, which automates the linking up of regions within AWS and Azure, and between those providers, by managing the deployment and connectivity of VPN tunnels and routers. Whilst you are capable of inter region network traversal in Azure, this isn’t available in AWS. Plus if you want to link the two up you need a third party product like SteelConnect. Vivek from Riverbed didn’t have any slides, provided a live demo, and got stuck into using the whiteboard, which always relates well with CFD3 delegates, so he was definitely a highlight of the Riverbed presentations.  You can watch his session here; https://youtu.be/jq0pdDkShhk.

NetApp

NetApp are well known and well established as a primary storage vendor, having been established 25 years ago. They have had a few cloud offerings in the last few years, but this has been mainly about running their arrays either on the cloud (ONTAP Cloud), or ‘next’ to the cloud (NetApp Private Storage). However, last year NetApp acquired Greenqloud, and it was one of the co-founders of Greenqloud, Eirikur Hrafnsson, who presented to us.

NetApp – That One Thing

What struck me about NetApp and their approach to cloud is how they have structured themselves after the Greenqloud acquisition. NetApp don’t appear to have brought Greenqloud in a desperate attempt to look like a company that is doing something about cloud, then slowly kill that new acquisition as they try to ingest it into the main corporate body of the parent company. It appears that instead they have put Eirikur and the Greenqloud team in charge of NetApp’s cloud offerings, and backed Eirikur with strong stakeholder support to avoid being steered too much by the traditional arm of the business. This bodes well for NetApp, and I was impressed by the nature of the products Eirikur and the team have been working on. To see a traditional storage vendor such as NetApp show off a service for spinning up Kubernetes clusters on AWS, and not run for the hills while shouting ‘But whhhhhhyyyyyy’, is an impressive feat and tantamount to Greenqloud’s influence within NetApp. See that Kubernetes demo happen here; https://youtu.be/VZKk7sI0lKc?t=1h23m21s.

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