You may be one of the data center administrators who’s heard the buzz about the cloud and has decided that it’s just hype. But the advantages of the cloud infrastructure are clear:
- Extremely low operating costs (as low as 1/10 traditional IT costs)
- Extremely high energy efficiency
- Extremely low levels of complexity
- High economies-of-scale
- Metered billing (based on use); transparent costs
- Other benefits of large data centers without owning capital
- Security: infrastructure sits outside the enterprise’s walls
- Service levels: Nascent model; agreements and levels unproven
- Auditability and logging/traceability issues
- Potential for cloud platform architecture “lock in”
- Does not lower existing cost of installed capital or operations
In preparation for Cassatt’s internal cloud release this week, I talked to Ken Oestreich, director of product strategy, Steve Oberlin, chief scientist, and Jay Fry, VP of marketing at Cassatt. Oestreich explained how a product that the company had been developing for five years (initially referred to as its “utility computing product”) aligns with the cloud computing model. Essentially, Cassatt’s Active Response 5.2 allows you to turn your entire data center into a “cloud,” but without the disadvantages above.
“People who haven’t outsourced because of regulatory or security are not going to change,” said Oestreich. “They’re not going to a cloud.”
Seeing this opportunity, and realizing that many CIOs would love to take advantage of the efficiencies of the cloud but can’t afford the risk, Cassatt’s product allows users to get pretty close. Additionally, there are some advantages to the “internal cloud” model that include no platform-dependency issues and no “lock in” to an external cloud provider. Active Response 5.2 provides multi-platform support for Linux, Solaris, Windows and AIX; virtual machine support for VMware, Citrix (Xen) and Microsoft Hyper-V as adoption warrants; and networking support for Cisco, F5 and Force10.
In addition to Active Response 5.2, Cassatt has introduced its Active Profiling Service.
“Before you can embark on creating an internal cloud and merging application groups into pools that can share these resources, you have to know what you’ve got,” said Oberlin. “That’s what enables you to create a management strategy.”
Some consolidation planning software exists on the market, but Cassatt’s team thinks that it misses the mark and doesn’t provide users with all of the information they need. Cassatt points out that existing inventory tools don’t look at usage patterns, application dependencies or workload dynamics, and consolidation tools don’t consider workload management and server repurposing.
“A lot of companies today buy consolidation planning software if they’re doing virtualization. What this software doesn’t do is what all of our customers ask us about — provide a picture of the dynamics of the data center,” explained Oestreich. In order to manage a virtualized environment, it’s helpful to have an idea of “… which apps are quiescent and when, where the orphan servers are, where is virtualization appropriate and not, where is power management appropriate, and where is the internal cloud computing appropriate and not.”
Oberlin shared that the actual setup and implementation of the software can be rather rapid (a day or two). “The longest period of time is recording performance and utilization data to capture a reasonable business cycle to get a decent utilization profile of the applications over time,” said Oberlin.
The team envisions its internal cloud offering as something that users can gradually work into. I imagine dipping a toe in and then easing into the hot-tub and relaxing while the data center is efficiently managed.
- Analyze infrastructure and opportunities using Active Profiling Service
- Get started using policy management
- Take advantage of the power-management infrastructure and achieve increased energy efficiency
- Manage virtualization across multiple vendors, simplifying and automating virtual infrastructure
- Implement application availability across platforms and achieve greater operational efficiencies
- Implement resource repurposing across physical and virtual platforms and achieve greater capital efficiencies
- Meter infrastructure use, regardless of physical or virtual
In a time of budget cuts and reduced staffing in the data center, there’s no question that improved efficiency in physical and virtual machine management is beneficial. This type of move can help any data center prepare for future increased utility costs and trim down on new equipment provisioning. And who knows, maybe one day you’ll consider joining a community cloud.