When it comes to cloud computing services today, there is not much being provided in terms of granular control over the IT infrastructure. IT organizations can generally choose to provision a server or a certain amount of storage. But when it comes time to specify service levels for any given application, the providers of cloud computing services tend to shy away from making any meaningful commitments.
The reason for this is that most of them don't have any real control over all the load balancers, firewalls, virtual private networks (VPNs) and WAN optimization appliances that provide crucial functionality in the data center. Without that level of control, it's too hard for them to say exactly what level of performance is going to be experienced by any given application.
To address that specific issue, Embrane today unfurled heleos, which the company claims is the first distributed software platform for procuring, provisioning and configuring network services in the cloud. According to Embrane CEO Dante Malgrino, the heleos platform allows cloud service providers to give customers control over IT network infrastructure in a way that allows those providers to more easily offer differentiated sets of cloud computing services. The level of granular control over the network infrastructure provided by heleos means that cloud service providers can provide a truly programmable cloud computing platform to their customers, says Malgrino. The heleos platform is invoked using REST application programming interfaces, which, according to Malgrino, makes it not only easier for cloud service providers to deploy the operating environment, but also to allow customers to self service their own network service requirements.
Embrane is essentially creating a cloud computing management platform that spans Layer 3 networking devices to enable cloud computing platforms running inside an enterprise or in a third-party data center to deliver a set of virtual network services. While multiple options will most likely become available that will foster the development of virtual network services, it's clear that the demand of those services is going to increase the number of IT organizations actually deploying application workloads in the cloud.
After all, it's one thing to run an application in isolation in the cloud. But once that application becomes part of a larger enterprise ecosystem, all the network service issues that have long challenged traditional data center environments start to apply.