The templates give customers who turn to RightScale a menu of server choices and configurations. When they're done making those choices, they can click a button on the console of the management platform to send it to the Amazon cloud. Such a server would amount to a set of files that combine the operating system and application of the workload in the Amazon Machine Image, a virtualization format that works in EC2.
The server templates have been dubbed "portable" because the goal behind the templates is to allow a user to configure a virtual server once, then deploy it to different clouds. For the time being, the primary deployment target is EC2, with Rackspace a secondary one.
RightScale hasn't finished engineering all of the platform's capabilities into templates suitable for Rackspace, acknowledged RightScale CTO Thorsten von Eicken. Rackspace is the startup's next target destination, he said. A third will be GoGrid, the cloud computing unit of managed host provider, ServePath.
"The different cloud providers have strong beliefs on how they need to differentiate themselves" in terms of firewalls, storage services or approach to load balancing, leading to variations in how servers for each will be configured, he said. RightScale will "embrace the diversity" and capture the type of server desired by one of its customers, then adjust the configuration automatically for each individual cloud as required.
The management platform gives a customer a choice of components with which to build a server.
The same approach could be used to configure workloads for clouds running VMware ESX Server virtual machines. Additional cloud providers such as Savvis, Verizon Business, AT&T have committed to make use of VMware's vCloud API to establish cloud services, while Terremark, Hosting.com and Bluelock, along with RightScale, have implemented it.
After deploying a virtual server into the cloud, the RightScale platform continues to monitor its performance and turns it off when the workload is completed. It can configure additional virtual machine workloads from the original model or modify for a more compute-intensive type of task, von Eicken said. The platform tracks versions, status of virtual machines and guards against virtual machine sprawl where a virtual machine has faded from view but is still running somewhere.
Eventually, von Eicken expects enterprises to use the RightScale Management Platform to build servers for both the public cloud services and internally for private clouds, which in at least some cases would be running in VMware environments, Microsoft Hyper-V environments or Citrix Systems XenServer environments.
RightScale charges 3.3 cents per hour of its management platform's monitoring of a virtual machine in the cloud. That would be on top of Amazon charges of 8.5 cents per hour for running a basic Linux server or 12 cents for running a Windows server.
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