New Appliances Offer Direct Plug-In to the Cloud

Arthur Cole

Could it be that building a cloud infrastructure is even easier than first imagined?

Such a notion would seem to fly in the face of historical precedent, in which new technologies are often presented as the keys to a bright new future only to reveal their darker complexities later. But with the cloud, we are seeing a growing number of appliance-based solutions that seem to offer about as close as you can get to plug-n-play deployment.

For evidence, I point to solutions like Lawson Cloud Services' Cloud Console, a virtual appliance that encapsulates the company's Smart Office, Enterprise Search and other products in an on-premises package. As a pre-assembled appliance, the system lets you skip the installation process for databases, applications and operating systems, offering instant connectivity to Lawson's cloud infrastructure services. And through an intuitive user interface, you can deploy the appliances through simple drag-and-drop into any number of test, development, training or production areas.

We're also seeing new devices like nScaled's MicroPod appliance, which offers instant migration, protection and local recovery of core infrastructure on a cloud-based backup service. The system works with existing continuous data protection (CDP) systems to virtualize workloads, provide deduplication and replication, and enable rapid restoration of failed hosts. The rack-mounted device provides up to 45 TB of internal storage and taps into nScaled's VMware-based cloud service.

F5 Networks is simplifying the cloud experience as well with a new set of Application Delivery Controllers (ADCs) issued on appliance form factors. The BIG-IP platform, for instance, contains tools like the Local Traffic Manager VE that ensures bandwidth for critical apps even as network conditions change. It also has a series of plug-in modules that allow the system to tap into management systems from Microsoft, VMware and HP to streamline the sometimes-complicated management stacks that arise in mixed physical/virtual/cloud environments.

That kind of integration is emerging as a key desire for appliance vendors as they transition their portfolios to the cloud. Seagate, for example, recently issued a new version of the EVault storage appliance that integrates both the Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager (DPM) and Dell's server and storage hardware in a bid to strengthen the device as a back-up and recovery solution. Users will be able to transfer DPM and EVault data to Seagate's i365 service or to other platforms like Linux or Solaris.

Clearly, there is still a lot to consider regarding policies and procedures when it comes to deploying infrastructure and applications on the cloud. But for those looking to get their feet wet -- and to retain some form of local control in the process -- it looks like appliances will provide the most ready solution.

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Apr 28, 2010 6:46 PM Mark Hadfield Mark Hadfield  says:

Thanks for the mention Author. Its interesting that most cloud vendors seem to be offering an 'if you build it, they will come' approach. Well they are coming, but mostly to deploy their web applications. The Appliance approach offers the customer a path to cloud services which takes into account the multiple services running inside the data center which are not about to be converted to a web application, but can still benefit from the cloud. Moreover, the reverse replication provides the customer with a complete set of data and applications at all times, which makes them feel better about migrating some services to the cloud. Neither approach is right or wrong, its just different ways of addressing the market.


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