As expected, there's a lot of activity surrounding cloud computing as leading vendors attempt to shore up their positions for what is likely to be one of the few bright spots in next year's economy.
And where is all this development and investment activity going? To management, of course.
We pointed out last fall that managing these new infrastructures was going to be the chief challenge once enterprises get used to shifting all of those resources and application loads here and there.
This week saw three major developments in shoring up cloud management capabilities. First was EMC, which bought out unnamed pieces of a company called SourceLabs as a means to beef up the Atmos platform. It's not clear exactly what EMC gained in the transaction, but it seems certain that the company's open source diagnostics tools will be put to use managing extremely large data sets across multiple geographic areas.
Soon after, Sun Microsystems announced it was buying Belgium's Q-layer for an undisclosed amount. That company specializes in automated deployment and management of public and private clouds through its NephOS data center modeling system. The chief advantage of NephOS is that it works with VMware ESX, open source and Sun's xVM (but not, apparently, Hyper-V) allowing Sun to set itself up as the cloud provider for a good portion of the established data centers out there. It also includes advanced policy and workflow engines and a configuration information repository for storing VM data.
On the heels of that, Terremark issued an upgrade to its Enterprise Cloud platform with a new Dynamic Capacity Management offering designed to keep resource availability in line with demand. The package provides a flexible "burst mode" that delivers real-time access to computing capacity to accommodate those sudden spikes that networks often encounter during heavy processing periods.
With management such a high priority in complex cloud environments, we're already starting to see management middleware available as services as well, according to Michael Vizard on his Masked Intentions blog. Companies like Linxter are offering various types of middleware as a service, and JBoss recently partnered with Amazon for a similar purpose. The chief advantage is that it removes the difficult process of integrating middleware with applications, and it opens up the possibility of merging applications across companies.
How well that will play in the front office remains to be seen. But if the technology is available, it will likely find some takers out there somewhere. In the meantime, those of you heading into the cloud need to start making some policy decisions now, because all of the platforms being readied today will have management concerns front and center.