Can the Cloud Handle Enterprise IT? - Page 2

By Richard Adhikari | Posted Jul 7, 2008
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Red Hat's JBoss on EC2

Though nowhere near IBM in size, Red Hat is also a player in cloud computing. It launched Red Hat Linux on EC2 last year to "help customers looking at extending the datacenter into the cloud better leverage external resources," Michael Ferris, Red Hat's director of product strategy, management and security, told InternetNews.com.

The service, which charges users by the hour, is still in beta mode.

Last month, Red Hat took another step into cloud computing, making its JBoss Enterprise Platform available on EC2. This solution lets users build, deploy and host enterprise Java applications and services and is built on open standards.

JBoss is aimed at Red Hat's enterprise customers, and, for Red Hat, the cloud is "just another location, and managing systems, whether they're physical or virtual or cloud-based is a core capability of what we're doing," Aaron Darcy, manager of the JBoss Enterprise Application Platform line, told InternetNews.com.

Meanwhile, RightScale and GigaSpaces have teamed up to let enterprises deploy and scale data- and transaction-intensive applications on Amazon's EC2 service.

RightScale offers an automated cloud computing management system consisting of a Web dashboard and automated management, load balancing and monitoring tools with prebuilt installation templates for common clusters.

Meanwhile GigaSpaces offers the eXtreme Application Platform (XAP) for the Java, .NET and C++ environments. This server consists of middleware that handles data, business logic and messaging using industry-standard application programming interfaces, or APIs (define), and an open source stack.

Together, the products from RightScale and GigaSpaces enable creation of EC2 clusters with one click.

One issue with running applications in distributed environments such as the cloud is application development. You need to code in load-balancing requirements and parallelization and to ensure everything is in place in the distributed environment, Geva Perry, chief marketing officer for GigaSpaces, told InternetNews.com.

Another problem is the actual deployment and management, because "you need to configure each server in a cluster and configure the cluster itself," he said.

GigaSpace handles the development aspect, and RightSpaces the management.

"The key to cloud computing is having a software infrastructure that takes care of operating the Web infrastructure," RightScale CEO Michael Crandell told InternetNews.com.

His company's key service is Animoto, which converts consumers' digital pictures into movies with sound. It launched last year on Amazon with six servers and went up to about 50 servers by February. Then the consumer rush began, and "they launched more than 4,000 servers in one day with our service," Crandell said.

"We're going to start enabling the types of applications that many people today don't think can run on the cloud, such as high-performance, transactional, real-time streaming applications," Perry said.

These can range from simple, event-driven applications such as the Twitter messaging system to a market trading system in which complex trading based on algorithms is conducted in reaction to market events.

According to Perry of GigaSpaces, some applications, such as banking, which have strict requirements for data protection and compliance, cannot be run on the cloud yet.

That's because cloud providers don't guarantee the level of service these applications require to remain in compliance, though they do provide such services, he explained.

The reluctance of enterprise IT managers to try cloud computing comes as no surprise to Barry X. Lynn, chairman and CEO of 3Tera, which offers AppLogic, a full platform for cloud computing used by about 200 small to large companies.

"As with any new technology, there are the early adopters, then the rest get on board once they see they're getting beaten to the market and the new technology lets the competition do things faster and cheaper," said Lynn, who has been in IT for 36 years and was last CIO of the bank Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC).

"The question is not whether cloud computing is ready for the enterprise; it's whether the enterprise is ready for cloud computing," he said. "We have one big enterprise customer running 200 applications on our platform."

Lynn's opinion isn't shared by Current Analysis principal analyst Bradley F. Shimmin, who said cloud computing is still "relatively immature" in terms of application platforms that can house applications both on premise and in the cloud.

Amazon declined comment for this story.

Article courtesy of InternetNews.com

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