Automating Private Clouds a Growth Area

As acceptance of the cloud computing concept grows, many companies are using private clouds are an entrance ramp to cloud computing. Companies are seeing this trend, and the the marketplace is divided between big-vendor solutions and smaller players looking to offer broad solutions that aren’t vendor-specific. It’s a busy space with larger vendors aggressively positioning themselves (most notably Microsoft (s msft) and IBM (s ibm)), and many startups moving fast to gain momentum.

One of the startups seeking to differentiate itself  in this rapidly crowding space is Adaptive Computing, a company that provides intelligent automation software for cloud environments as well as for regular data centers and high performance computing situations.

Given the presence of such large players, as well as smaller players in the marketplace being snapped up (like Joyent’s aquisition of Layerboom last month), it’s difficult to see how new entrants will be able to differentiate sufficiency to gain a toehold. I questioned Peter Foulkes from Adaptive Computing about this and his response was telling:

Big vendors like IBM and HP (s hpq) have all the technologies needed to build and support complete data center and cloud infrastructures, but they are missing one vital piece; they are missing the intelligent workload automation technology which the cost-savings/efficiencies that comes from automating the provisioning of stack technologies within cloud infrastructures.

I’m not convinced this is a safe strategy for differentiation, especially since Microsoft Azure looks to be filling this alleged gap. Automation tools like this often become a component of other products, as we saw with the Layerboom acquisition. Adaptive Computing’s strategy seems to rely on being the most-used automation solution for both IBM and HP in cases where customers request a product with a fuller feature set than those vendor’s own offerings. This seems to be aimed at eventual acquisition — a risky move given the small number of potential suitors in the market.

Over the last five years, Adaptive Computing has focused its product development on automation solutions targeted to the world’s largest data centers running applications within heterogeneous software and hardware environments. Its products — Moab and Viewpoint — power a number of high-profile and high-performance operations, including The University of Cambridge and the Barcelona Supercomputing Center.

Moab is a toolset designed to lay the critical software foundation for workload-driven cloud deployments. In plain English, it provides the foundation that lets private clouds scale up and down according to usage, hardware situations, or environmental actors. With the addition of the Viewpoint product, virtual private cloud creation and management is enabled via a UI that provides for the management of both virtual and physical servers.

Love them or hate them, a number of organizations are using virtual private clouds as a way to test the waters of cloud computing. These organizations will look to tools that manage all aspects of virtual cloud creation and management. While Adaptive Computing may well do a fantastic job of a part of that role, with consolidation in the marketplace expected, if the company isn’t snapped up by a company with customers looking to end-to-end solution providers as the preferred option, it may become obsolete.