The Rise Of Enterprise-Class Cloud Computing - InformationWeek

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7/16/2008
11:37 AM
John Foley
John Foley
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The Rise Of Enterprise-Class Cloud Computing

With its new Cloud Server, Elastra joins a growing list of vendors offering products and services for enterprise-class cloud computing. The year-old startup is betting -- rightly so, in my opinion -- that businesses are ready and willing to move workloads to the cloud, but only if they have IT tools that are sophisticated enough to manage the process.

With its new Cloud Server, Elastra joins a growing list of vendors offering products and services for enterprise-class cloud computing. The year-old startup is betting -- rightly so, in my opinion -- that businesses are ready and willing to move workloads to the cloud, but only if they have IT tools that are sophisticated enough to manage the process.Elastra introduced its Cloud Server (still in preview release) in March. The company describes the software bundle as a server-based design and run-time application for both public and private cloud computing environments. In its initial release, Elastra Cloud Server is available for Amazon's EC2 service, and the company already has 40 customers. Founder and CEO Kirill Sheynkman says Elastra may eventually offer its server with cloud services from IBM and Sun Microsystems, but that work has yet to begin.

Nearer term, Elastra is working on a version of Cloud Server for data center VMware environments, or what it refers to as "private clouds." That's an oxymoron since cloud computing, by definition, happens outside of the corporate data center, but it's the technology that's important here, not the semantics. The company's pitch is that IT departments need better tools to specify requirements and configure software to run on physical or virtual servers, regardless of whether the underlying systems are on premises or out in the public cloud.

"Virtualization and clouds are great ideas, but you need to think in terms of applications, how they interact, and how you control and manage them," says Sheynkman.

At the heart of Elastra's approach are two markup languages developed by the company. Its Elastic Compute Markup Language describes the components of an application to be deployed and related software and hardware requirements, while its Elastic Compute Deployment Language specifies how that application is to be deployed in IT infrastructure. Elastra's Cloud Server comes with design tools for software configuration, a repository, and deployment and monitoring capabilities. Elastra also employs so-called "elastic compute units," as way of charging for resources (databases, app servers, storage) consumed.

In its current iteration, Cloud Server is tuned for the EnterpriseDB database in the EC2 cloud, but the company plans to develop to Apache, JBoss, PHP, and other popular software tools in the months ahead. In fact, Elastra's two major milestones for the second half of 2008 are to complete development around the LAMP stack and, as already mentioned, introduce a VMware version of Cloud Server in the October time frame.

Elastra joins Kaavo, a startup I wrote about a few days ago, as a new breed of vendors offering tools for enterprise-class cloud computing. (See "Startup Develops Single, Simple Interface To Cloud Services." At InformationWeek, we'll be devoting a lot of attention to this group in the weeks ahead.

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