In Search of a More App-friendly Cloud

Arthur Cole
Slide Show

Private Versus Public Cloud Computing

A plethora of applications are being considered for the cloud, but it may take at least another year before cloud computing goes mainstream in the enterprise.

When you get right down to it, the cloud isn't about speed or flexibility or scalability or any of those infrastructure functions that IT worries about. It's about applications.

Knowledge workers want their applications and data pronto, and it doesn't matter to them whether it comes via public cloud, private cloud, hybrid or carrier pigeon. But that leaves many enterprises in a quandary. While it turns out that delivering apps over a single cloud has proven to be very effective, working across multiple cloud platforms is quite another matter. And since the entire premise of the cloud itself is built on easily scalable, limitless resources, the chances of remaining on a single cloud is practically non-existent.

Bridging those gaps between various platforms is at the heart of a series of new developments hitting the channel. It's probably fair to think of them as "cloud optimization" platforms in that they are bent on speeding up delivery and performance across public and private networks.

First up is IBM, which recently teamed up with Akamai to integrate the WebSphere system with Akamai's global delivery network. The combo features a new WebSphere Application Accelerator for Public Networks that helps overcome latency in the public domain by tapping thousands of servers to handle burst applications. IBM is planning to launch a similar system for hybrid networks, plus a new edge accelerator, the DataPower Edge Appliance XE82, shortly.

That announcement was quickly followed by news from HP (who else?) that it was expanding its Application Transformation system with new tools to help push apps onto the cloud. Key additions include new Application Portfolio Management (APM) and Applications Transformation to Cloud services that analyze enterprise infrastructure to determine optimal application delivery methods. There is also new Cloud Service Automation software designed to streamline application builds and deployment across heterogeneous environments.

Indeed, the cloud is emerging as major wedge toward gaining some long-sought-after openness in the application development community. VMware just released its Cloud Foundry Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) offering that allows developers to choose among a host of frameworks, services and deployment options for their cloud-ready creations. The platform supports such popular frameworks as Spring for Java, Ruby on Rails and Node.js, along with services like MongoDB, MySQL and Redis. It also supports any and all public or private cloud environments, and doesn't even require a VMware infrastructure to operate.

At the same time, Citrix is pursuing a similar line by expanding its existing relationship with GigaSpaces. The plan is to devise an open PaaS environment that will provide universal support for hypervisors, development languages and runtimes needed for application development. The system will be based on Citrix's OpenCloud offering and GigaSpaces eXtreme Application Platform (XAP), with the two companies vowing a seamless infrastructure built for application scalability and elasticity. GigaSpaces has also joined the OpenStack Community to lend support for cloud services on standard hardware.

This renewed focus on application performance is a sign that the cloud is maturing from a whiz-bang technological marvel to an integral component of enterprise operations. And once the knowledge industry gets a taste of what the cloud can do for them, there will be no going back.

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Apr 14, 2011 10:33 AM Jacek Jacek  says:

You mentioned knowledge workers behavior: pronto. In consequences they will not be care who delivers proper software: internal IT department (all the time busy maintaining sophisticated infrastructure) or external cloud application provider. Just because they do not have to care about IT, they should get easy to use and functional software, who is going to provide it - does not matter.


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