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11/11/2009
07:36 PM
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Skytap Boosts Collaborative Cloud Project Management

Skytap is putting a collaborative front end on cloud computing to help distributed dev teams better manage software projects.

Skytap, the young supplier of front-end management capabilities to public cloud computing, has announced collaborative facilities for distributed software teams working on software projects.

In the past, Skytap has been the provider of a Virtual Lab where in-house developers could test drive software without requiring IT server set up and support. HP partnered with Skytap in using the Virtual Lab as a way to demonstrate the capabilities of its LoadRunner stress testing tool.

Now Skytap is expanding its offerings to include Skytap Project, allowing a software team to use a virtual data center, with virtual machines, virtual networking and virtual storage, as a place to collaborate on projects.

The goal is to provide collaborative facilities "like creating pages in SharePoint," where a project can be defined, workflow set up, role-based policies imposed and progress tracked, said Ian Knox, senior director of product management, in an interview. An off-shore tester of software developed by the project might have fewer rights than a lead developer or project manager, he noted. A shared facility, however, gives all parties access to a software stack designed to run in a certain environment with many dependencies on other software.

"It's a totally different thing from Amazon.com's infrastructure as a service. There's no way two users can collaborate using EC2," said Knox.

Skytap is providing front end services to make it easy to move workloads formatted for VMware's ESX Server and other virtualized environments around the Skytap cloud. Its Virtual Lab for HP included security measures, based on an IPSec virtual private network into the cloud. Skytap is adding Policy Management for Users, Resources and Security to the VPN, which includes policies governing user activity by role, and implementing a Skytap user access model.

In addition Skytap is providing Resource Links that enable secure access to a virtual data center or individual virtual machine through a single URL. The resource links provide a way to securely share collaborative information and facilities among geographically distributed users, requiring only a browser.

Such shared pages and virtual data centers can be used for IT prototyping, training and consulting, test migration of ERP applications, and application development and testing, Knox said.

Skytap announced the expanded facilities Nov. 9. It has a pay as you go pricing model that results in charges of $1,000 to $2,000 per month for typical projects, Knox said.

Seattle-based Skytap was founded in October 2006.

InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on the public cloud, digging into the gritty details of cloud computing services from a dozen vendors. Download the report here (registration required).

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