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The Cloud Advocate

Reuven Cohen is the Chief Cloud Advocate at Citrix

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Reuven Cohen

Reuven Cohen

An instigator, part time provocateur, bootstrapper, amateur cloud lexicographer, and purveyor of random thoughts, 140 characters at a time.

Openness In The Cloud Era

Posted by on in Cloud Computing Trends

Cloud computing is quickly becoming, or possibly has already become, the de facto way new applications are developed and deployed. The days of on-premises, device specific software for the most part, has come to end. Data and its related API’s is now the platform of choice for developers. At the forefront of this transition are online tools like the free open source hosting platform GitHub, which has become the key method for where and how developers contribute and collaborate in 2013. In many ways, GitHub is the very definition of “openness” with-in the development world with millions of hackers around the globe actively and openly collaborating with one another.

A recent post describes GitHub as “the largest online storage space of collaborative works that exists in the world. Whether you're interested in participating in this global mind meld or in researching this massive file dump of human knowledge, you need to be here.”

With millions of users and more than $100 million in funding, to say GitHub is a massive success would be putting it mildly. But it does frame a broader question. Does the source "code" matter any more? Or is it the platform and how we collaborate that matters most? Is the new definition of open source purely the ability to openly share your ideas, be it an App, a written work or something else?  Has open source as a concept evolved beyond that of source code into a philosophy on how we share and interact with one another?

My belief is that it has.

For many, the idea of openness, regardless of what form the output takes is the only option. Yet others don’t agree with this point of view. Back in 2008, Nick Carr shared his opinion in a post saying;

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I think that we can all admit that deploying a cloud infrastructure can be a complex endeavor. With so many moving parts, each with its own configuration not to mention limitations, so called fragility can become a central hurdle within the architectural blue prints of a cloud infrastructure. 

Many in the DevOps space (infrastructure as software) prefer to use the tactic of loosely coupled software components when building out clouds. This is an architecture defined by an endless number of components that come together to create a unique cloud environment. I’m not saying this is wrong, in many cases this type of approach can lead to differentiation between you and your competition. But it doesn’t necessarily make things easier, at least from the stand point of an easy to deploy and mange cloud infrastructure.

In my early exploration of CloudStack several analogies have been used to describe it to me. CloudStack has taken a much more structured approach to the packaging and deployment of a cloud platform where others in the industry have taken a much looser tact. One of my colleagues uses a shoe analogy to describe the differences saying “A loosely coupled architecture offers a seemingly endless variety of colors, sizes, and styles.  When you order it, you receive a box with soles, fabric, scissors, and instructions how to measure your foot, how to choose which blueprint to follow, how to cut the fabric, how to stitch it so it looks good, etc.  Most folks will need to engage a professional cobbler to assemble the shoe.”

He points out that CloudStack offers fewer colors and styles, but when you receive the box, you spend a few moments lacing up the shoes and you’re out running in short order. 

Another colleague describes it a bit differently saying its much more like a F1 car. “You get to choose every single piece that goes into an F1 car, but it's inherently more temperamental and requires an entire team to keep it running smoothly. That said if you need the absolute best performance of flexibility that model is the way to go. The problem in a loosely coupled stack is the differing levels of maturity of mandatory pieces of the infrastructure. Some of those pieces are time/production tested, others not so much, yet. It's the equivalent of having awesome race tires that grip really well and a fuel pump that's a bit dodgy.”

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A Cloudy Journey

Posted by on in People

Hi everyone, I'm the new guy on the team. I'm writing this post both as a way to get to up to speed on how this blogging platform works as well as a kind of introduction.

So lets get things started with the introduction part. I'm Reuven Cohen, my friends call me rUv, it sounds kind of like groove. I'm new to Citrix, I joined earlier this week in the role of Chief Cloud Advocate. I have a long history in the open source and cloud computing space. Back in 2004 I founded Enomaly, our earliest claim to fame was the creation of one of the very first so called infrastructure as a service platforms (Enomalism - GPL v2). Back in those days it consisted of a web accessible API on top of the Xen hypervisor. The idea was simple, a way for the app layer to communcate with the infrastructure layer for easy horizontally scale (or scale out) as demand required. Most people told me that the idea was crazy. I was informed that virtualization was for consolidation and nothing more. Although it took awhile, eventually people came around to the idea. 

Later I was lucky enough to be involved in some nascent cloud initiatives including Amazon's EC2 as an early adviser and later cofounding CloudCamp. I also helped draft the first version of the NIST definition of cloud computing which lead to the broader adoption of cloud computing with in the U.S federal government. So you could say I'm a cloudy guy. 

The first question you're probably going to ask is what exactly does a Chief Cloud Advocate do? The answer is a lot of things. The marketing folks describe it as helping to increase the volume, reach and influence of Citrix's extensive portfolio of cloud solutions. But that doesn't really answer the question. 

According to the dictionary, an advocate is a person who speaks or writes in support or defense of a person, company or cause. For me that cause is the establishment of an open and interoperable cloud ecosystem. My belief is that Citrix has the best positioned portfolio of cloud components of any technology company today. My mission is to try help make sure that everyone in every industry in every part of the world knows this. Sounds ambitious I'm sure. But that's how I roll.

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Citrix supports the open source community via developer support and evangeslism. We have a number of developers and evangelists that participate actively in the open source community in Apache Cloudstack, OpenDaylight, Xen Project and XenServer. We also conduct educational activities via the Build A Cloud events held all over the world.