Server Farming

Sep 17 2008   6:23PM GMT

vCloud initiative: Enterprises moving to clouds

Leah Rosin Leah Rosin Profile: Leah Rosin

Active Directory

On Monday at VMWorld, a new cloud computing intiative was launched: vCloud. As James Urquhart pointed out at his blog, The Wisdom of Clouds, VMWorld is turning into a big cloud computing event.

Urquhart posits that the combination of big news signals entry into a new era for data centers:

The long and the short of it is that we have entered into a new era, in which data centers will no longer simply be collections of servers, but will actually be computing units in and of themselves–often made up of similar computing units (e.g. containers) in a sort of fractal arrangement. Virtualization is key to make this happen (though server virtualization itself is not technically absolutely necessary). So are powerful management tools, policy and workflow automation, data and compute load portability, and utility-type monitoring and metering systems.

Recently, I discussed the concept of a “hybrid” model of cloud computing with Steve Brodie, CMO of SkyTap, and Ian Knox, Director of Product Management at SkyTap. The company announced the launch of their API that allows the transfer of existing dynamic environments to the cloud. The main focus of the SkyTap API is to enhance software quality testing, and our colleagues at discussed the implications of the announcement for that market (Virtual environments ease software development, testing) last week.

This week, SkyTap announced that they were joining the vCloud initiative, bringing their hybrid model into the mix. The company offers a different service than other cloud hosting providers, in that their API allows users to spin up their existing infrastructure into the cloud, rather than having to build applications within the cloud.

The company explained the advantages of this model in their VMWorld press release:

Using a ‘hybrid’ cloud computing model, organizations now have a way to rapidly realize the benefits of ‘cloud economics’. The hybrid approach provides a low-risk adoption path to cloud computing and can deliver outstanding ROI compared to dynamic environments that fluctuate dramatically and are expensive to administer. In a hybrid model, companies may run their production applications onsite while conducting all their development and testing in the cloud. This enables on-demand scaling of test environments as needed and eliminates the cost of underutilized hardware. This approach also allows organizations to benefit from the management and automation capabilities of a fully automated hosted virtual lab solution, leading to huge productivity increases.

Knox ran me through a quick demonstration of how the company’s Virtual Lab works, and I was pleasantly surprised with the relative ease with which a user could connect in a virtual classroom or testing environment. The virtual lab is essentially a pool or library of hosted virtualized infrastructure that allows organizations to scale up and down lab resources as needed. Sometimes I find that the cloud is confusing to the less spatially-oriented among us, but the company’s website has a great illustrative graphic that shows how it works:

The folks at SkyTap are quite optimistic, dare I say certain, that cloud computing is the future of IT.

“It’s kind of inevitable,” said Knox. “It’s going to happen. The huge capacity headache no longer has to be borne by every company out there. With companies experiencing high pain right now, solutions like this make it so easy to get going.”

Users who have taken advantage of this easy way out of the pain concur.

“The promise of cloud computing is enormous, but with most cloud services providers you need to buy into their way of doing things from the start,” said Peter Horadan, of Admit One Security. “Skytap, on the other hand, does virtualization the same way most IT teams are used to doing it. Teams can keep their same processes and skills and use Skytap Virtual Lab as an extension of their existing environment as needed.”

If you’re interested in what is going on at VMWorld, we have it covered.

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