If we consider suppliers that have embraced the cloud computing concept and have offered something to help organizations use this approach to gain additional scalability, performance or reliability as needed, they are, for the most part, suppliers of processing virtualization software, virtual access software and management software for virtualized environments. To the best of my knowledge, today's announcement by Appistry, is the first coming from a company supplying application virtualization software.
In the past, Appistry has focused on how to help organizations apply the power of "grid computing" to achieve the same ends. Appistry clearly recognizes the similarity between the "cloud computing" and "grid computing" messages and wanted do what was necessary to ride a horse that appears to be moving faster down the track to acceptance.
What is Appistry's message?
Appistry is presenting the following message in order to support the case that what it's been doing for quite some time can be seen as supporting the creation of in-house or private clouds. Here's an excerpt from their presentation deck:
- Software Delivered over the Internet (SaaS)
- Servers and Storage on Demand (IaaS)
- Platform as a Service (PaaS)
- Customer Doesn’t Care Where it Executes
- Operations are “outsourced”
- Pay as you go
- Green IT
Private Clouds and the Next Generation Datacenter
- Application quality of service: scalability and reliability
- Cut capital expenditures: increased utilization
- Cut operational expernditures: Simplfied management
- Dynamic re-allocation of capacity
- Exploit commoditization
- Allow organizations to use computing capacity without also having to know where it is
- Support dynamic service level agreemetns and budgeting
- Green computing
In the end, Applistry would point out that their software is, in essence, a cloud appliation operations and management platform.
What is cloud computing?
It seems that each supplier is using its own definition of cloud computing. The defintion appears to be something that would include their products or services and excludes competitive offerings. This, to me, indicates an immature market that has yet to come to some agreement on basic terms and standards.
The definition that seems to be workable for now is the application of grid computing, clustering and virtualization technology to an organization's workloads so that when the workloads require additional processing power, storage or the like, they can be acquired from an outside supplier. This also implies that they've organizated their applications to work in that sort of environment within their own network.
First of all, we've seen this all before. Each and every time a new distributed computing technology is developed, we see suppliers allow their customers to utilize that technology to outsource some or, perhaps all, of their computing. In my rapidly fading memory, we've seen service bureaus, ASPs, ISPs, grid suppliers, hosting companies and now, cloud computing suppliers.
The goal, it appears, is to move from thinking about IT infrastructure as always having big operational and capital expenditures to thinking about it as being a variable cost that is directly tied to revenue producing activities. This simple change in perspective could have the effect of changing the rules organizations face when dealing with IT.
Appistry has a long list of happy clients who have started down that path to create their own in-house cloud/grid. Just visit the company's website to see the impressive customer list. Appistry believes that the tools that made this possible can be generalized to embrace external clouds as well.
I'm happy to see that suppliers such as VMware, Citrix, Amazon, Google, IBM, HP and many others are now talking with one another about creating some standard meta data to describe and manage these workloads (which may be made up of many virtual servers) and standard "containers" for those virtual servers. As these standards emerge, mainstream organizations will be able to safely adopt cloud computing concepts. Appistry is positioning itself now in the hopes of taking advantage of that trend.