Firstly, a big thank you to the team at Buttonwood. Without all your efforts and dedication we would never have realised our goals established two long years ago.

Ok, so what was announced and why does it matter….?

Background

Two years ago an idea was born out of necessity. The emergence of cloud as a disruptive force was being marketed heavily across industry. Cloud promised to change the way we built, consumed and managed IT forever. However, if you scratched the surface of the marketing hype you quickly realised that consuming cloud services was not for the faint of heart. But the promise of greater agility and improved economics meant the transition to cloud was inevitable. Business had bought into the promise in a big way. Cloud was just too compelling to ignore.

An Epiphany!

We had an idea. One that would help drive the adoption of a Hybrid cloud model by abstracting away the complexity and providing customers with the ability to consume and govern cloud services independent of platform or provider. It was an exciting premise…one that was realised last week with the announcement of the Buttonwood Cloud Exchange.

Next Generation Cloud Broker

BCX was built around two guiding principles – Choice and Transparency.

We knew early on that there was no one-size-fits-all cloud. That if a customer could intelligently broker a workload, based on service level objectives, across any cloud it would result in significant cost savings. This was demonstrated effectively in a recent study published by GigaOM.

However, to enable customers to adopt ‘Hybrid IT’ on mass we also needed to combine freedom of choice with transparency – both operational and financial. A big challenge, but one we felt compelled to tackle. And so the journey began…and finally…an announcement was made…

Buttonwood emerges as the ‘next-generation’ of Cloud Services Broker

Over the coming weeks, we will be delving into the architecture of Buttonwood and the platform approach we have taken. We will explain our thinking around what it means to be a ‘next generation Cloud Broker’ and detail our thoughts and motivations behind the features and functions we are bringing to market. Until then, let me leave you with a few key features that will help define the BCX offering:

Cloud Choice

The results are in. Customers want a multi-provider strategy to help maximise the value of cloud. The financial gain of being able to broker a workload across providers is significant. The challenge is how to make an informed decision when there are literally thousands of options to consider?

Simple. You let someone else handle the complex issue of indexing thousands of instance types across hundreds of regions around the world. Then you let them build a fancy decision engine (FDE) that integrates seamlessly with their existing tool sets. Done!

Well…almost done. It is a complex problem that starts with being able to describe a workload in a consistent and predicable manner. Enter Topology and Orchestration Specification for Cloud Applications (TOSCA), a standards based language used to describe a topology of cloud based web services, their components, relationships, and the processes that manage them.

BCX uses TOSCA to describe the desired end-state of a workload. These “blueprints” can then be parsed by the FDE to determine the most cost effective cloud provider or providers (don’t let this radically cool titbit go unnoticed) to host the deployment.

But wait, I hear you say. Surely cost is not the only method used to determine an outcome? Correct! As part of the blueprint creation you are able to define a range of Service Level Objects (SLO) to assist the FDE determine the ‘Lowest Cost Conforming Bid’.

Sounds complex. It is, but keeping with our promise of simplicity we are working on something special. In the coming weeks we will be previewing a way to build and manage blueprints in an intuitive (read simple) way.

STOP…before I move on I really want to explain what I mean by ‘radically cool’!

Imagine you want to deploy a two tier application blueprint into cloud. You have defined a latency SLO of 10ms for the DB tier and 50ms for the application tier. The FDE recommends splitting the workload across different providers (Azure and AWS). If you accept the recommendation you save 33% over the term of the requested lease. What would you do?

You would hit deploy and WHOOP like a prospector who just struck gold.

Radically cool means on demand adjacent layer-2 networks built across providers to facilitate the deployment of complex workloads – seamlessly!

Financial Transparency

As part of our vision we also wanted to help executives make the transition from a CAPEX to an OPEX business model by providing much needed financial transparency. The concept of a cloud cost centre with associated budget delegations and approvals was established to help govern and control cloud expenditure.

As an owner of a budget you have the ability to further delegate to team members with policy control that helps guarantee ongoing compliance. Detailed reporting and alerting delivers the visibility needed to avoid the dreaded ‘bill shock’ and accurately account for project spend.

Operational Transparency

Without trivialising the many layers of cloud complexity, one of the biggest inhibitors to broad cloud adoption has been operational transparency. Customers expressed to us their desire to leverage well established processes and procedures when consuming cloud resources to ensure operational consistency.

So that’s what we delivered!

BCX enables customers to securely extend their existing data centre to multiple provider clouds on demand. We addressed the issue of trust by ensuring the network security and access control policies are the same across both private and public clouds. We also addressed the issue of portability by enabling multi-hypervisor compatibility. VMware to Azure. Azure to AWS. AWS to VMware and so on. This is big! It means we can now build a Hybrid IT solution with:

  • Operational consistency across private and public cloud environments
  • Bidirectional workload mobility across heterogeneous clouds

Oh, almost forgot. You can now also deploy your existing corporate Standard Operating Environment (SOE) to the cloud and align existing internal change management and support processes.

Phew!

Ok, that’s enough for now. In the next blog post we will look at how BCX helps customers consume and manage cloud applications (SaaS) simply and easily. Oh, and deliver a knock out UX along the way.

allan-king
Post by Allan King

Allan King is the Founder and Managing Director of Buttonwood, an Australian startup that wants to transform the way enterprises build and secure hybrid cloud services without unnecessary cost or complexity.

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