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6fusion and Red Hat Solve for Financial Management of Containers
Solving the Development Velocity and Scalability of Container Technology
Our software team began to use Container technology in a material way inside 6fusion nearly two years ago. Almost immediately, we recognized a significant downstream financial efficiency problem. Given the highly dynamic and wildly volatile nature of Container technology usage, tracking and reporting the true cost of delivering our application services was nearly impossible. Understand that I cringe a little as I write this, considering that 6fusion wrote the book when it comes to modern IT utility economics. The root of the problem is that in the world of Containers, granular visibility at the server, VM or even Instance level isn’t good enough. To sum up our situation, while we love the abstraction layer from infrastructure (private or public) that Container technology provided us, thus helping us to solve for development velocity and scalability, we, as a consequence, created financial friction that nobody really expected.
Enter Red Hat.
There’s a back story to this that we’d be glad to share with anyone over a Dark & Stormy or two (you can take the founders out of Bermuda, but you’ll never take the Bermuda out of the founders). Let’s just say that to validate our observations we walked over to our neighbors at Red Hat in downtown Raleigh and asked them to corroborate our findings.
And from that, a cool idea was born: What if we could apply 6fusion’s unique approach to metering infrastructure, to metering application services?
Fast forward two years (remember that early OpenShift Origins prototype?) and presto! Here we are! We are pumped to announce the release of our OpenShift Collector. The OpenShift Collector availability means we have officially added metering for containers to our list of capabilities! We’re super jazzed about this because as we’ve fanned out across the Kubernetes ecosystem (remember that early interview at Red Hat Summit?), we’ve heard a constant ask: “Can you give me something that enables billing and paying for Containerized application services like a utility?”
Before I go any further about the power of our new solution, It might be helpful to provide a quick review for the uninitiated, about how such IT was purchased in the past and how that has changed over time.
My Parents Way: The Hardware Era
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, Mom and Dad purchased servers, networking equipment and storage arrays and depreciated them on their books for 3 to 5 years (GAAP). Essentially, they would pay for the compute resources up front or on a lease to break the capital expense into smaller monthly payments. In this mode of buying, they had to think in 3 to 5 year chunks and hope they made solid predictions so as not to purchase too much or too little. Total dinosaur tech finance.
How My Older Siblings Did IT: The Virtualization Era.
Bro and Sis grew up and still purchased hardware upfront or on a lease, but they were very innovative types. They used virtualization technology to squeeze more ROI from the data center hardware. Pretty clever. They still had to purchase in 3-5 year chunks, but the need to make perfect predictions was lessened because the hardware surplus was somewhat “recyclable” as demand for new virtual servers continued to grow. That said, buying to little was still very much a pain in the neck.
How I Was Raised: The Cloud Era.
By the time I started to shave my chin, the idea of purchasing hardware as a requirement to build and deliver software was passe. Alas, the cloud provides to me, the ability to rent compute on-demand. (Brilliant!) Sure, I still have to buy in chunks, but the chucks are very small. These chunks increase or decrease every hour if needed. (Brilliant!) This flexibility created huge opportunities for companies big or small. Now, companies could right the size spend, matching it to the needs for any given hour of the day. (Sweet deal, eh?!)
How the New Generation is Doing IT: Enter the Container era…
Containers change the game for developers because of velocity and scale. In really technical terms, it’s f’ing awesome. And there is no going back. But there’s a teeny tiny huge “businessy” problem. Containers re-introduce huge waste back into the purchasing equation. (Not so brilliant!) Unlike an instance, a Container’s lifespan can be as little as seconds and require a tiny amount of compute to complete it’s task. The smallest instance can accommodate many running Containers and each Container will use a variable amount of compute resources. Basically, paying by the instance hour is painfully inefficient. It causes the amount of wasted spend to increase, big time. You see, the benefits gained from velocity and scale simply magnify and multiply the financial problem. Put a slight more imaginable way, if IT financial management is a slow burning dumpster fire (and you know it is!), Container technology is like spraying it with a gasoline hose!
The Solution: Just pay for IT like a utility…
So, what do you get when you cross-pollinate Red Hat, Kubernetes and 6fusion? Answer: You get the world’s first truly utilized IT offering from highest order application service right on down to the wiring in the closet. And therein lies the power of our solution to the problem: Not only can we show you the true cost of operating Container platforms at the most granular level ever, but we can enable utility style billing too – be it to internal business units (chargeback) or to external customers (CSP’s). At the end of the day, 6fusion’s supply chain platform has always been about leveraging data to create smarter buyers and more efficient sellers. And thanks to 6fusion and Red Hat, that world now extends to Containers.
Serverless computing and Function as a Service (FaaS) will push the boundary of application development even further. How’s that for a little teaser for the next generation to come? If you are skeptical about that, I invite you to listen to industry leaders like Andy Jassy (in case you missed his keynote at AWS Re-Invent 2017). 6fusion is already prepared for this generation. We are hurdling toward an IT supply chain that mirrors how we buy and sell other industrial utilities, like electricity, bandwidth or fuel – based only on what we need, exactly when we need it, no more no less.
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