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6/25/2012
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Google Ventures Backed Cliqr CloudCenter Tackles Lock-In

Google partner says it will provide cloud computing benefits without requiring your company to commit to one service provider.

One day ahead of the Google I/O developer conference, Cliqr Technologies plans to introduce a way to end cloud computing lock-in.

The Palo Alto, Calif.-based startup, backed by Google Ventures and Foundation Capital, has been operating quietly under the name Osmosix. In conjunction with Google I/O, the re-branded company on Tuesday intends to launch CloudCenter, a cloud application management platform that provides businesses with a way to migrate enterprise applications to a cloud computing environment and to manage those applications securely.

What distinguishes CloudCenter from competing solutions, said co-founder and CEO Gaurav Manglik, is the fact that it doesn't require modifications to applications that tie them to a specific cloud service provider. "A lot of companies providing migration get you to one cloud, but you can't easily go to another," he explained in a phone interview. "We prevent lock-in, since there is no modification of the application."

[ Learn more about the Google I/O developer conference. Read Google I/O Preview: 9 Potential Products. ]

Lock-in can take many forms, including practical, technical, and contractual barriers. As a rule, technology vendors love lock-in, because it makes it difficult for customers to switch to a competing product or service. Conversely, customers hate lock-in and may delay adopting new technologies to avoid it. That's happened in cloud computing: Many companies have foregone the benefits of cloud computing, such as on-demand, scalable infrastructure, to avoid the risk of being trapped with one service provider.

Converting on-premises enterprise applications to run in the cloud can be done, but Manglik suggests that process isn't sufficiently flexible. "You have to develop new code or re-code, you have to virtualize it, and then add security," he said. "That's the approach that companies have to take."

With CloudCenter, Manglik says the process is much easier, with app migrations possible in a day, to private or public clouds. "We are unhooking all these applications from infrastructure," he said.

Cliqr's technology can also limit the impact of cloud provider outages, which aren't common but do happen. With apps running in multiple clouds, the chance of downtime is reduced.

What remains to be seen is how thoroughly Cliqr's system can encapsulate apps. If the app relies on unusual or unique APIs, chances are that Cliqr won't be able to translate those application calls without extra work. Manglik says that version one relies on a preset list of common API calls, and auto-discovery of APIs and communication with third-party management tools won't arrive until version two.

Dave Bartoletti, a senior analyst in infrastructure & operations at Forrester Research, said in a phone interview that large enterprises know how to virtualize applications and how to build new applications. Where they have less experience is moving legacy apps to the cloud, he said.

However, moving legacy apps into the cloud isn't necessarily the best option, according to Bartoletti, who suggests that starting afresh in the cloud with an application built from scratch may make more sense in some circumstances.

Bartoletti said that while there are other companies in this space, such as AppZero, Appcara, and RightScale, Cliqr's point of differentiation is being able to move apps to multiple clouds. He sees the ability to compare prices among cloud service providers as the principal benefit of Cliqr's technology. "Companies move to Amazon Web Services and want to see whether they're still getting the best price," he said.

Cliqr's list of supported cloud providers includes Amazon EC2, RackSpace, and OpenStack-based services. Given that Cliqr plans to showcase CloudCenter at Google I/O, it wouldn't be surprising if Google's App Engine or Google's rumored EC2 competitor were added to that list.

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