Today seems like OASIS TOSCA day in my world. First thing this morning, Sam Johnston (@samj) Tweeted somesuspicion towards TOSCA. Ben Kepes (@benkepes) also blogged his thoughts about TOSCA. I sent Sam a quick “+1″ replythis morning (@sandhillstrat), but I wanted to weight in with my thoughts in blog form as well.
Fundamentally, TOSCA is trying to address a very large, complex problem. The TOSCA web site says:
The OASIS TOSCA TC works to enhance the portability of cloud applications and services. TOSCA will enable the interoperable description of application and infrastructure cloud services, the relationships between parts of the service, and the operational behavior of these services (e.g., deploy, patch, shutdown)–independent of the supplier creating the service, and any particular cloud provider or hosting technology. TOSCA will also make it possible for higher-level operational behavior to be associated with cloud infrastructure management.
By increasing service and application portability in a vendor-neutral ecosystem, TOSCA will enable:
- Portable deployment to any compliant cloud
- Smoother migration of existing applications to the cloud
- Flexible bursting (consumer choice)
- Dynamic, multi-cloud provider applications
That goal is so large, that I think it’s probably unbounded. When problems get unbounded, the best you can ever hope to achieve is to solve a large enough subset of the problem that the solution is still interesting. If you can’t achieve that, people ignore the solution because it fundamentally doesn’t help them. There is always an “interesting” part of the problem space that they have to solve a different way, and that undercuts the use of the partial “solution.”
Can TOSCA identify a large enough, “interesting” subset? Perhaps, but like Ben, I’m skeptical. The fundamental problem is that TOSCA needs to answer the questions:
- What’s an “application?”
- What is “portability?”
Those are big, hairy, nasty, hard questions, and the various participants involved with TOSCA, hypervisor suppliers, service providers, software suppliers, and enterprises, have radically different answers to them. The question is whether there is enough common ground that can be standardized to deliver value to users.
The ServiceMesh Agility Platform also answers these questions. The Agility Platform is able to manipulate large application topologies and it is able to achieve portability of application functionality between clouds, even those based on different underlying hypervisor technology. The platform has support for SLA management which can result in autoscaling or restarting behaviors.
But there is no magic in the real world. The Agility Platform achieves all this by taking a firm point of view on the answers to the application and portability questions and does not try to come up with general answers that will suit everybody and anybody. Like an approximate solution to an NP complete computing problem that does not guarantee optimality, the Agility Platform makes compromises in an effort to deliver something of value today.
Can TOSCA do the same? That’s unlikely unless the group of OASIS participants exhibits a strong amount of compromise and self-sacrifice.
What are your thoughts on TOSCA? Weight in with a comment.
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