Automation. That is the theme I continue to come back to while at Cloud Connect. I think organizations are going to be getting the most benefit from automation in the near term, and automation is one of the many steps on the road to private cloud computing. Automation, when done right, can save you and your staff loads of work and can ensure that deployments go more smoothly. I sat down with representatives from VMWare, Gale Technologies, HP, TransLattice and Cloud.com, and got the lowdown on automation and private cloud.
My first meeting was with Allwyn Sequeira, CTO and VP of security and networking with VMware. I ran up from a session on cloud securrity where Christofer Hoff was laying out the security problems that cloud computing presents. His observations were echoed by Sequeira. What is interesting is that VMware is trying to tame the security issue by moving functions into the hypervisor that will service all VMs, rather then letting customers maintain the status quo of hardening VMs, which can take up precious resources. It's an interesting move, but I think the game will get more interesting if VMware can build an integration point where security vendors can hook into the the hypervisor functions, obviating the need to run VMs and route traffic flows through the vSwitch. Some of that integration is happening with Trend Micro being able to perform AV on file IO for any VM on a hypervisor.
I met with Garima Thockhom, VP of marketing, and Scott Powers, director of product management and marketing for Gale Technologies. While they have marketing in their titles, these two have some tech chops, and they get the IT issues that automation can solve. Gale Technologies automates provisioning of physical or virtual servers, networking and storage, regardless of vendor. It's that last part that sparked my interest, because when you buy a stack of hardware and software from a single vendor--like Cisco's UCS and HP's Matrix--you expect each vendors' products to work with all of the products in their respective lines. But few companies have that luxury and have to work with gear from multiple vendors.
That is where vendors like Gale Technologies come in. (By the way, HP makes this claim as well.) Gale uses a few methods, such as using a vendor's APIs or doing CLI scripts to configure all of the devices you need to configure, from deploying an app and setting up the networking and storage to installing an OS or image. They don't go up into the application stack, but they automate the bulk of the provisioning work. I would have gladly given up my own scripts that automated my data center for something that was more robust. I like what they told me, though I think that unless they are grooming themselves for acquisition, they need to expand their automation capabilities into application delivery.
Next I met with Frank Huerta, CEO of TransLattice, which came out of stealth last year and makes a product that is--in my words, not his--a platform as a service (PaaS) in a box. I am not a developer guy, so maybe this is old news and I am drinking the Kool-Aid, but the claim is that they have an appliance, for about $100,000, that provides automatic all-over application delivery and highly scalable storage, and is almost completely automated. It runs J2EE apps today, though .Net is being considered. The J2EE apps don't need to be altered in any way. Just drop the container on the appliance. The system, dynamically and automatically, distributes applications and data over any number of devices, providing near constant uptime, graceful fail-over, scalable storage and processing.