With few reference points for enterprise cloud computing consumption, many new and interesting companies are popping up to make cloud resources available, with the aim of simplifying the processes.
3Tera's CEO Barry X. Lynn wrote a guest post on ZDNet that got me wondering about how software companies can leverage tools that make the cloud more consumable for users and, specifically, enterprises. Lynn takes the view that operations will be abstracted completely from data in the future, which affects both enterprises and the software that they run their businesses on.
While enterprises are growing comfortable with applications in clouds and realizing the upside of dynamic provisioning and scaling, they will be developing new applications and replacing/changing existing ones. They will start building the new applications in clouds and as they change existing applications, will consider migrating them to the cloud in the process. This will afford them the advantages of much faster time to market, the ability to run applications on demand in multiple data centers (globally if appropriate) creating their first truly complete disaster recovery abilities and concentrate on their core businesses which may be financial services, health care, manufacturing, etc., but certainly is not data center operations. (They will leave that to the companies whose core business IS data center operations.)
I spoke to Barry about how 3Tera works and got a demo of the service. My overall impression is that this is a very powerful tool set that is way ahead of how people are utilizing cloud-based resources today. I'm just not sure that the approach is the right one for the masses.
3Tera's Applogic allows you to abstract the hardware from the software and adds a management layer. Anything that can run in a physical data center can run in an Applogic cloud without having to change any code.
Applogic encapsulates all the virtual resources as "applications"--OS, apps, servers, etc., and let's you superimpose the combined components as an image on a cloud or grid. Applogic will then consume the appropriate the resources from the underlying hardware and software.
Applogic provides a browser-based Visio-like UI that lets you create these "applications" by dragging in resources that create a definition file that describe the overall package. You don't need to know anything about the infrastructure that an application or service is running on; you just need to define the level of resource availability and service level required.
All of that makes a lot of sense, providing a virtualized infrastructure with the software and hardware running separately but creating a complete environment.
The question in my mind is if this "virtualized layer" is what enterprises want. The other question is if cloud consumers will be interested in this type of Visio-like approach or will they just want to "mount" cloud resources that are managed from behind the firewall.
Of course, the biggest question is if the cloud is anything more than "mainframe in a browser."