Bringing Jobs to the Cloud…

I never met Steve Jobs in person, but upon hearing of his passing I sensed a loss that I could not immediately explain. It took a bit of reflection to understand the feeling, and then more to put it to words.

What I will miss most is not tied to the wonderful gadgets he willed into existence, though I am grateful for every one of them. Nor is it his irreplaceable artistry, although he will no doubt be written into history with the likes of William Shakespeare, Michelangelo, Michael Jordan and the Beatles. Rather, it is his presence, both as an inspiration and a source of guidance. Steve embodied common sense in a world overrun with personal agendas and bureaucracy.

Based on the legend of Steve originating from the Valley, I crafted an image of him in my mind. I used that image for inspiration and motivation, giving me hope about the future of the world. Having since read the many recollections of personal experiences from people who knew him well, it seems that the image I created was not far from reality. The recollections also confirmed the loss I had sensed – that one of the guiding stars in my sky had been extinguished.

The Steve I imagined had a rare quality that allowed him to be honest with himself and true to his inner being. This type of honesty is the hardest to maintain – coming from a deep understanding of personal values combined with a quest for motivation and fluency with human nature. He also possessed an inner compass that indicated which decisions were correct and recognized that the road less traveled was a harder path. He answered the harder path’s challenge with courage, resolve and intellect – simply stepping past fear in the face of uncertainty and risk, thereby redefining impossible as possible. No matter how difficult it was to follow his inner compass, he always did what he thought should be done.

The Steve I imagined also viewed respect as a term encompassing pride, honor, integrity, and dignity. He took great pride in everything he touched and believed he should be credited for his accomplishments. Above all, he executed and delivered without fail, and did not rest until everything was the way he had imagined it.

He recognized immediately that a downside to achieving his personal best was to risk offending those around him who couldn’t keep up or were threatened by a change to the status quo. However, he viewed the cost of being polite as an unnecessary pacifier for a lesser world – only delaying the inevitable until someone displayed the courage to offend those who thought themselves the moderators of mankind. Thus, he surrounded himself with other ‘A-type’ personalities and held them accountable to reaching their potential. When their actions aligned with purpose, they generated passion. With passion, they developed focus, and when they were focused, they had power. Powerful action created great accomplishments and reshaped our world. Simply, people followed Steve because he was ahead of us all, not because he was in need of an entourage. He was headed someplace other people wanted to go and he seemed to know how to get there. He didn’t tell us how to live. If we liked what he did, then good for us, if we didn’t, we were all free to find our own path.

What I will miss about Steve is more than the art that only he could produce. I will miss knowing that he is out there fighting for what he thinks is right. He was very much like a parent figure to the technology industry, taking the responsibility to challenge bad governance, see past short-term thinking and “Think Different”. When so much seems to be going wrong, Steve was a beacon of rightness. I will miss the assurance in knowing he’s focused on causes that need to be championed, quietly taking on challenges without concern for personal sacrifice – all according to his personal compass. What I will miss most is the opportunity to personally tell him “Thank you for all you did.” I recognize that we had a guardian angel and that it may be needed more now than ever.

Cloud computing is a completely new direction for businesses, from both a consumer side and a supplier side, and we must “Think Different” about everything we know. In the cloud, there are bureaucracies to be circumnavigated, impossibilities to be disproved, and a lesser world to be avoided. While Steve armed us with his philosophy and opened our minds to new possibilities, the responsibility now rests on each of us to step up and reach for our potential and, in our own way, dent the universe.

Original blog post found at HPC in the Cloud.

New Season, Same Umbrella

One of the largest perceived barriers to adoption of cloud computing is the concept of security. Based on countless discussions with companies interested in adopting a cloud model, it is clear that many want to achieve the economic promise of cloud but are struggling to figure out how to use a multi-tenant, virtual environment in a way they are comfortable with, given the security concerns of their respective companies.

From an enterprise perspective, most companies are much slower to adopt change based on the amount of established process and policy around existing solutions (change implies cost). In that, one of the barriers that is getting in the way is how different cloud is from what most companies have today. Different means that companies are not as confident securing the new solution, but also different means additional cost to make it work. And while we will all agree that Google and Amazon are clouds, it does not imply that cloud is Google and Amazon.

What I mean by this is that there are many definitions of what cloud is, and while the Google and Amazon offerings are both very strong representations of a cloud solution, that does not limit the definition of cloud to be what Google and Amazon offer (and their offerings get more broad in definition every day). What each consumer needs to figure out is what solution they need, what parameters they are comfortable with (this is where security sits), and what the price needs to be for the solution to be interesting.

We have had several conversations with infrastructure service providers who are more than happy to make additional infrastructure available to companies as an extension of the customers existing infrastructure (They turn the entire system over to the customer, un-configured, and place it in a private VLAN. The customer loads their OS. The customer loads their configuration. The customer integrates the system into their cluster as they see fit), and charge the customer for the time the system is configured on the customer network. Additionally, there are software packages out there (look for “hybrid cloud” keywords) that will help acquire, configure and burst into these extra resources. Because these are complete systems and not virtual machines, customers feel more comfortable that this model is not a change from what they are doing today.

That would be one approach that would imply very little change on the consumer side and therefore minimize cost and additional security exposure. If there were still concerns about cloud resources, an additional set of steps that could be taken would involve classifying the data into security classifications (very typical security practice that may already be implemented) and specifically leverage cloud resources for only workloads that use public datasets (identify cloud-eligible workloads).

Cloud is an opportunity. Not only do companies get to realize economic benefit over time, but they also get to take advantage of emerging standards and innovations in the field of security that are evolving because of cloud. As we spend cycles adapting to cloud and retooling legacy applications into cloud-consumable footprints, they become eligible for the new security capabilities that are being designed and built for cloud. As standards are developed, certifications will become available, and then measurement and auditing will become available at a solution layer instead of at the specific implementation layer. This will help to drive the cost of security lower across the industry and, even better, allow for much more security for the same cost as today.

In summary, find a solution that minimizes change. Cloud is an opportunity to improve economic position and flexibility, and over time, improve performance and security. The more similar that we can make cloud infrastructures to the enterprise infrastructures we have today, the more comfortable customers will be with using cloud from a security perspective, and by minimizing change, we minimize the cost of transitioning to cloud, making it a viable solution for more customers sooner.

Original blog post found at HPC in the Cloud.

One Step Closer to Clouds for EDA Industry

Having just attended Synopsys User Group (SNUG) in San Jose, there was a nice little surprise for those of us interested in cloud computing related to EDA. In his keynote opening on Monday morning, Synopsys CEO Aart de Geus announced that Synopsys has a cloud offering available for customers to use – TODAY.

While most of us were aware that Synopsys has been looking at cloud, I am not sure that anyone was expecting his statement “We’re open for business”.

The specifics of the offering are still sparse, but the announcement by de Geus and subsequent presentations by David Hsu (see his blog on this here) indicate that the offering is for burst capacity related to VCS workloads.

While this is targeted at a very specific offering to begin with, it seems like a very appropriate target. VCS jobs include verification regressions, and can make up 30%-40% of the overall workload executed on an EDA compute cluster. The data sets involved (input and output) are finite and reasonable, so this would be a prime candidate for cloud use.

This has the potential to significantly offload the internal cluster resources, giving companies time to figure out how cloud works and what their strategy is for leveraging cloud beyond this. In addition, it gives them some breathing room on their ever expanding datacenter crunch, which is causing a great deal of pain today.

In Hsu’s presentation, he detailed out the process Synopsys went through for testing and evaluating cloud and the work they had did to make the extension into the cloud (using Amazon presently) as seamless to the engineers as possible. Also during David’s presentation, Synopsys invited Qualcomm’s Mike Broxterman to discuss his evaluation of the capability and the results seen by the Qualcomm team using the solution how a customer would use it. Both were well presented, and seemed to be well received.

The solution looks to be well researched by both Synopsys and the customers who participated in the POC phase, and this is probably the first of many steps to move EDA into the Cloud.

Blog originally posted at HPC in the Cloud.