Under The Radar – Brokering The Clouds

Under the Radar

Image by thekenyeung via Flickr

Under The Radar, a series of conferences organized by Dealmaker Media, is a platform for startups to launch themselves in front of some of the top minds in industry is organizing their cloud event on April 16th, 2010 with a focus on Commercializing the Cloud, highlighting the fact that Cloud Computing has moved from the hype phase to increasing enterprise adoption. Cloud Ave is a media partner for the event and Zoli has already written about it. We even have a special deal for Cloud Ave readers and they can get $100 off the ticket price by using this link. (Previous Cloud Ave coverage of Under The Radar event can be found here).

In a series of posts, I am going to talk about some of the companies participating in the event. I am hoping that this will serve as a warm-up for the event happening in two weeks. You can see the full schedule of the event here. What I am trying to do in this series is to pick some of the participating companies, categorize them based on what I feel is their role in the cloud marketplace and give a brief introduction about their product(s).

In the first part of this series, I am going to talk about Cloud Brokers. Cloud Brokers are services acting as an intermediary between the end user and cloud providers. They add more value to end users beyond what is offered by the cloud vendors and, also, play a role in brokering interoperability between different clouds. In 2009, Gartner highlighted the role of Cloud Brokers in their special report. From the list of companies presenting in the event, I have selected four companies to be categorized as Cloud Brokers. Some of them may not exactly fit the description of Cloud Service Brokers but I have them categorized under this term to keep the number of categories (and, hence, the number of posts) small. Feel free to pick me apart if you don’t like my characterization.

  • CloudSwitch: CloudSwitch came under my radar when they won the launchpad event at the recently concluded CloudConnect Event. CloudSwitch offers an easy point and click way to move the multi-tiered applications at the enterprise datacenters to various clouds. Using what they call as Cloud Isolation Technology™, they move the applications and data to public cloud with a few clicks while keeping the control in the hands of the enterprise. This helps the enterprises to maintain a better leverage on the security. CloudSwitch also helps enterprises extend the policies of their datacenter and keep the applications running on the cloud to be tightly integrated with their existing datacenter tools. The ease with which the applications and data can be moved between the datacenter and different cloud providers helps enterprises prevent the potential vendor lock-in problems. They have a free version called CloudSwitch Explorer and an enterprise version called CloudSwitch Enterprise.
  • Makara: Makara came under my radar when they spoke at the San Francisco Cloud Computing Club (SFCC) meeting recently. Their platform could very well turn out to be the developers dream. Their platform helps developers deploy, manage, scale, monitor their applications on the cloud seamlessly without even knowing about what it means. Unlike some of the application management platforms that requires an installation of an agent at the application layer, Makara leverages the virtualization layer and makes it easy for developers without any need for agents. Similarly, there is no need for setting up management servers/appliances too. Makara platform makes it super easy to get the applications to the cloud without any code changes in minutes. Using the words of their CTO Tobias Kunze Briseno, the developers could instantly turn on the applications in the cloud.
  • Layerboom: Layerboom, based in the beautiful city of Vancouver, Canada, could turn out to be the hosting companies’ dream come true. As we move further into the cloud, questions are raised about the fate of hosting companies. I have been talking about an open federated cloud ecosystem and arguing that some of the existing hosting companies can transform themselves into cloud providers by tapping into solutions like the one offered by VMOps. Layerboom is trying to solve this same problem by offering a platform where hosting companies could easily create and manage virtual cloud servers easily. Their BoomBox appliance can help any company transform their existing infrastructure into a cloud computing platform. Soon, they are going to offer Layerboom Live Image, which is a hosted dashboard to manage the cloud servers.
  • Reductive Labs: Reductive Labs (now called as Puppet Labs) has been under my radar for a long time, ever since I was doing system admin stuff and evangelizing open source. I have used cfengine briefly for my professional needs. Since then, I am keeping tabs on various developments in that field, from cfengine to puppet to chef. I know very well how Puppet dramatically makes it easy to completely automate an entire datacenter with its configuration management platform and I am well aware of how deeply it has penetrated the enterprise market. Like Chef (and its parent company Opscode), Puppet is well positioned to play a major role in the cloud infrastructure space. I had a brief chat with their CEO, Luke Kanies, couple of weeks back at a bar in SFO after the OSBC event but he didn’t give any hints about their Cloud plans. I, myself, is keen to see what they are going to offer during the event.

We have an interesting mix of companies in the cloud brokerage space presenting in the event. In my next post, I will talk about some companies presenting in the UTR event and who are in the Cloud Monitoring space. In the mean time, if you have any take on the above companies or if you want to add some insight about their product/service, feel free to jump in and add your comments. However, if you have absolutely no idea about them and want to learn more about them, take advantage of the $100 discount offered to Cloud Ave readers and register for the event.

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