I've blogged in the past about the connections between virtualization and cloud computing, and now it seems that those two technologies are becoming integrated faster than many had predicted.
A company called CohesiveFT has devised a Web service called Elastic Server that essentially allows you to build your own customized software stacks and servers, then deploy them to your own virtual machines or cloud environments back home. It essentially provides everything you need to develop a made-to-order computing environment that can be created and dismantled according to your own work requirements.
The company reports that it already has a community of 2,000 users who have created more than 5,000 Elastic Servers to the market.
From the looks of it, it appears to be the IT equivalent of online retailing, in which you literally load up your shopping cart with all the components and packages that you think you're going to need, and then essentially "check out" by provisioning your own server image. Feel like going with VMware today? No problem. How about Xen or Parallels? Or EC2? It's all there, with more options being added by the week.
One of the newest additions is Virtual Iron which, despite being the junior competitor to the virtualization giants, knows a good opportunity when it sees one. The company is offering an integrated version of its server virtualization and server management software to the service that offers the ability to create, provision, deploy and tear down virtual machines practically on a whim.
It would seem that adding this level of virtual flexibility to end users would be an IT manager's nightmare, but CohesiveFT offers a fix for that, too. Its recently updated Elastic Server Manager service provides a consolidated view of the entire virtual environment, including logs, configurations, administration permissions and the ability to start and stop services. It even features open APIs for anyone who wants to bring in additional Web service-enabled programs for specialized management capabilities.
It seems to me that this is the kind of service that will literally remake the enterprise on the most fundamental level. In a very short while, I would expect Microsoft, Sun, SAP and other industry software giants to come begging for a chance to join the Elastic Server bandwagon. Then again, it would also be a tempting business to gain control of.