At the beginning of this decade HP put forth a vision for the future data center that they have now fulfilled with both products and services offerings. Viewed by some at the time as a reaction to IBM Applications on Demand, HP coined Adaptive Infrastructure as its vision for a "composable" data center that let resources be quickly and easily assigned to business services based on their needs and for IT Ops to achieve and maintain high utilization of their data center resources.
It may just be time for enterprise customers to take a serious look at cloud computing. Major announcements in the past few days from Microsoft and Amazon have certainly signaled that the on-demand Internet computing model has staying power. And with a long recession looming there may be no better time to start getting familiar with something that could dramatically lower infrastructure costs.
VMware and Citrix want to be your cloud infrastructure provider. The competing virtual infrastructure makers announced dueling cloud initiatives this week aimed at providing xSPs with simple to deploy and buy cloud computing platforms that come from very different angles and may serve to bifurcate the mid to small market service provider space.
Citrix Cloud Center (abbreviated as C3, a nice homage to cloud pioneer Amazon Web Services' S3 cloud service) gives xSPs a portfolio of tools for automating virtual machine deployment, movement, and SLA management. It bundles together their XenServer Virtual Infrastructure, Netscaler application switch, WANScaler access gateway and bandwidth optimizer, and the forthcoming Workflow Studio for application self-provisioning and admin orchestration.
IBM's PR engine has been ratcheting up the volume about its efforts in cloud computing lately and if you are like me, I found their press releases confusing, so I got them on the phone to try and get past the hype to better understand what they are really doing in this space. Turns out they have turned on a powerful listening and learning engine.
IBM’s BlueCloud initiative isn't (at least not initially) an attempt to become a cloud services provider or to become a cloud computing platform, but rather to help their customers experiment with, try out, and custom design cloud solutions to fit their needs. Building off the IBM Innovation Center concept, IBM is providing Cloud centers that are places customers from enterprise and government accounts, as well as non-IBM customers can test out cloud computing concepts, mostly for deployment internal to their own data centers. Gerrit Huizenga, the technical solutions architect for BlueCloud for IBM's Systems & Technology Group (STG) said these efforts are helping them build out a series of cloud blueprints, or proven/standardized cloud infrastructures. "Our goal is to deliver solutions that make it much easier to deploy and manage these things," Huizenga said.
Over the past few months a flurry of announcements have begun swirling around the cloud computing space, which remains a nascent market in the overall IT realm. Do these announcements portend a fast maturity for the concept or just the typical "me too" that comes with a hyped market?
In June, RightScale, a cloud management software and consulting company that has become a bit of a poster child as a cloud integrator, announced a partnership with GigaSpaces that integrates their eXtreme Application Platform (XAP) clustering and cache solution with the RightScale automated cloud management platform for Amazon EC2 clients. The value of this partnership comes from the fact that EC2 simply provides you with a VM you can populate but no availability or scalability services. XAP is a cluster architecture that delivers these values and can be quickly and easily deployed via the RightScale tool.
Next came Elastra, a San Francisco startup building a Cloud Server, a middleware layer that turns a commodity infrastructure into a cloud (similar value to what 3Tera provides today). The first iteration deploys similarly to XAP -- as a software layer you load into EC2 VMs, that enables scale and availability to the apps you lay on top of it.
This data center-in-a-box is portable, stackable, and can be
deployed in as little at 12 to 14 weeks, says IBM. It supports an open architecture and
equipment from non-IBM vendors. IBM states that if you need to expand your data
center fast, but don’t have the space, the PMDC is worth considering.
Huh? A data center in the trailer of an 18-wheeler? What do
you do, park it outside next to your data center? How does this make sense? And
Everyone wants to make their data centers more efficient and
gain recognition for their efforts but we’re lacking the benchmarks to shoot
for. Well, here’s your chance to help change that. On March 20th the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) kicked off a data collection process to help create Energy
Star™ ratings for data centers. Energy Star, the best known energy efficiency
identifier, is respected as a mark of credibility for products and services
that deliver superior energy efficiency. While mainly a consumer mark, the EPA
recently published a draft standard for servers,
its first serious foray into providing enterprise product and service guidance.
While extending Energy Star to your corporate data center, consumed only by
your own company, may not have customer impact, it has corporate brand value that
matters to the C-level executives. It will also have differentiating value when
choosing outsourced service providers.
Earlier this week, Sun Microsystems announced that its Project Blackbox was now a commercially shipping product. I have to confess that when they first told me about this effort I saw it as a nice showcase innovation — something they could use to demonstrate how densely racks could be configured and how energy efficient their products were. They could drive it from city to city for in-person demonstrations. Nice marketing idea. But I didn’t see the practicality to real enterprise data centers. Who’d be willing to buy a container and park it outside their data center? Yeah, that’s secure.