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Cloud.com talks cloud computing as we head into VMworld

Besides having a great domain name for a company in the cloud computing industry, Cloud.com continues to remind us how they are pioneering the open source private and public cloud computing software market.

This week, before VMworld kicks off, Cloud.com announced that it has integrated its CloudStack management platform with VMware vSphere 4.1 and VMware vCenter Server. According to the company, doing so will enable enterprises and service providers already using VMware virtualization in their environments to extend their capabilities into the cloud without requiring changes to their existing infrastructure or virtualization management tools.

To find out more about trends and best practices taking place in the cloud computing market, I spoke with Peder Ulander, Cloud.com's chief marketing officer. Ulander also talked about what affect open source and the company's CloudStack would have on the public and private cloud computing market.

With VMworld 2010 right around the corner, I was ready to gear up and find out as much as possible about the cloud, knowing full well that it was going to be the major bullet point of discussion during the conference.

VMblog.com: With VMworld right around the corner and this year's motto being "Virtual Roads. Actual Clouds," what effect do you think this year's conference will have on the cloud computing industry?

Cloud.com: This has been a big year for cloud computing, at all levels in the "atmosphere." We've seen significant growth in the IaaS marketplace, consolidation with a number of acquisitions throughout the year, and a variety of new, interesting entrants into the space that focus on open, non-proprietary solutions like Xen Cloud Platform, OpenStack, and our own Cloud.com community.

Cloud computing is clearly the big topic of the decade, and virtualization plays an important role in the movement. And we expect this year's event to showcase deployments and how far the cloud has come, in addition to being a reflection of the increasing number of choices available to users. We also expect to see an influx of companies partnering together to show customers new ways to integrate their infrastructure for new, incredibly innovative cloud computing solutions.

VMblog.com: What can we expect from Cloud.com during VMworld 2010? What are you going to be showcasing?

Cloud.com: We will be demonstrating both our open source cloud orchestration product integrated with vSphere as well as partnering with NetApp to demonstrate a secure, multitenant cloud solution running on top of NetApp, Cisco, and VMware.

VMblog: As far as the intersection between cloud computing and open source, are you seeing an increase in interest? And if so, what are some of the common concerns interested organizations have?

Cloud.com: While many people will say that cloud computing was founded on virtualization, the reality is that open source has developed deep roots in the cloud from the beginning. Whether we look at the IaaS space with Amazon, Rackspace, and GoGrid, or span the industry with companies like Heroku, Google, and Salesforce, all of these companies were successful because of their use of open source technologies in establishing their cloud. It gave them many advantages simply due to the scale, control, and economics that pushed them into the leadership quadrants of their respective areas. So yes, there is a significant interest in open source when discussing cloud computing with the enterprise.

When we dive into the technology concerns of these enterprises, they have more to do with closed source solutions more than anything else. Vendor lock-in, proprietary standards and APIs, interoperability issues, etc., are definitely top of mind and a direct reflection of how closed source, proprietary vendors are missing the mark on customers' needs.

VMblog.com: Since many organizations looking into cloud computing have existing virtualization infrastructure, how can they leverage their existing technology when deploying their own private cloud?

Cloud.com: Cloud computing is an extension of the data center, an extension of the tools customers use today to manage their environments. It can't all be greenfield; it can't all be a replacement. It has to be adaptive, and cloud computing allows enterprises to leverage their existing virtual infrastructure to deploy their own private cloud or clouds. This evolutionary versus disruptive approach is one of the cornerstones of the Cloud.com strategy because it ensures that customers can leverage their existing investments in infrastructure and developer technologies. We follow a practice of building to open standards while working hard to ensure that we can work with existing management tools, networking topologies, on-premise hardware, etc.

An example of this is our announcement this week about the availability of the Cloud.com CloudStack for vSphere. The new support for vSphere means that we are integrating not only on top of VMware's hypervisor, but we are doing it with the vSphere environment so that customers can use their existing tools like vMotion, vShields, and some of the great technology they have around high availability or disaster recovery. Being able to give enterprises an aggressive push toward cloud computing, while maintaining their ability to use the tools they are already familiar with, is a win-win across the board. It removes complexity, removes risk, and accelerates their ability to get their cloud computing strategy/implementation off the ground.

VMblog.com: Based on your experience, can you share with us some of the best practices for deploying private and public clouds?

Cloud.com: From a service provider perspective, there is a little bit of the "do or die" sentiment. The reality is that this movement was started, perfected, and driven by Amazon –- a company that was not born in the hosting movement. Today they have a commanding market share and continue to expand and grow, bringing in significant revenue growth by capitalizing on a technology that customers want. Unfortunately, providers looking to get into the public cloud game today need to do so quickly to avoid losing the opportunity and, in some cases, their existing customers running on legacy services. The best practice here is to partner with someone to get the foundation in place with a solution that fits your needs –- such as secure, scalable, and reliable, enabling you to focus on the areas of differentiation in the cloud.

At Cloud.com we have been very successful in bringing new hosting providers online with a cloud solution. From the small, regional providers like ReliaCloud, GreenQloud, or CloudCentral to the large global MSPs like Tata Communications, we are seeing this best practice being successfully implemented in the market.

From an enterprise perspective, customers are looking at the cloud computing market through a different lens. This isn't about combating a massive competitive force while trying to increase ARPU from your user base, but more of "how do I find opportunities to make my IT operations more efficient while enabling my users to be more agile." Best practices in this environment revolve around picking the right use cases to test out a private cloud strategy where there is less risk to the business. It is almost a crawl-before-you-run scenario. We've seen this happen in areas like test and development, HPTC implementations, or areas where workloads are fluctuating regularly over short periods of time. As IT groups start to become familiar with how these solutions work and the benefits they bring, we start to see broader rollout. Interestingly enough, the customers we have worked with on these best practices move from a "proof of concept" stage to broader rollout within a quarter after seeing the benefits and advantages to using this internally.

VMblog.com: What are some of the growing trends in the market around cloud computing?

Cloud.com: While it has been around for the last decade (recognizing the launch of Salesforce.com in 1999), cloud computing is still in its formative years. Every day a new innovation, a new technology, a new customer or a new company emerges with a cloud implementation that is breaking the norm. It is hard to even select a few growing trends in the space as there is innovation all around us.

That said, I do believe that some of the trends revolve around open source collaboration, enterprise consolidation, network virtualization, and some of the new things happening around storage. On the last two, compute continues to be compute while the changes happening in the network and storage arenas have created a whole new playing field. From big and small there is continued innovation and progress, and it is fun to watch as well as to be a part of.

VMblog.com: How do you think the recent announcement of OpenStack will affect the cloud computing market?

Cloud.com: Cloud.com was one of the charter members of the OpenStack initiative because we are excited about what it brings and what it means. We expect it to have a significant impact on the IaaS space of cloud computing. I've written a number of posts on our blog at Cloud.com to really dig into the significance of this industry consortium, so I will try and summarize one of the most important outcomes from the initiative itself.

OpenStack will put significant pressure on the big incumbents to change the way they are approaching the market. Amazon has refused to recognize an enterprise movement around private clouds, while VMware and Microsoft have been slow to innovate and deliver solutions that could define the market and push it forward. While there has been a significant amount of innovation and growth from a number of small companies, the threat to the establishment has been minimal. The launch of OpenStack brought together 25 key players in the cloud computing market -- customers, implementers, developers and innovators –- to address the key concerns around innovation, growth, and interoperability. Today there are over 30 key members to the initiative and the pressure in numbers will influence and drive changes to how the market evolves over the next few years.

I'd like to thank Peder Ulander for taking time out of his busy schedule to speak with me before VMworld begins next week.

Published Thursday, August 26, 2010 7:41 AM by David Marshall
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