Click here to close now.


Related Topics: Containers Expo Blog

Containers Expo Blog: Blog Feed Post

Data Center in a Box

CloudSwitch Offers a Perfect Solution to the “Data Center in a Box” Problem

Years ago I had the privilege of helping to grow Bladelogic from early-stage startup to a profitable organization of over 300 people.  In the early days one of my first challenges was figuring out how to show our product to prospective customers effectively.  I needed to show our ability to manage a large IT infrastructure but I had to do so without actually dragging a data center to each of our sales calls.  (My first attempt involved renting a fleet of trucks but visitor parking turned out to be a real challenge.)  As I look back on that situation now, I realize that CloudSwitch offers a perfect solution to this “data center in a box” problem.  In this article I’ll walk through the use case and describe a new CloudSwitch feature, Sample VMs, which makes this possible.

The first step toward a virtual data center is to use virtualization, of course. In late 2001 VMware released the third major version of their Workstation product.  Given my demonstration requirement, I bought a copy of Workstation, found the biggest “mainstream” laptop available at the time, filled it with memory, and deployed as many VMs as it would run without completely falling over.  Depending on the end user’s patience, that number was somewhere between four and six.  While not exactly a world-class data center, the end result served us well for demonstration purposes.  It was, however, limited in capacity, slow, expensive, and difficult to maintain.

In retrospect, what we really needed was a way to:

  1. Quickly start new servers and turn them off when finished;
  2. Use existing, internal virtual servers or public server images; and
  3. Connect to these servers as if they were on the local network.

Fast-forward nearly ten years and the first of these points—utility capacity on demand—is all but ubiquitous courtesy of providers like Amazon and Terremark.  We of course know this as “the cloud” and companies use it every day for a variety of reasons.  The second two points are more interesting.

Today’s cloud providers have implemented their platforms on a particular virtualization solution—and in many cases they’ve customized these solutions to suit the needs of their product offering.  This is of course perfectly natural, however one practical effect is that end users cannot simply take their own virtual machines and expect to run them within a given cloud provider’s environment.  The reasons vary—different virtualization solution, different underlying hardware, different capabilities—but the end result is always the same: cloud providers will not allow end users to upload custom VMs and run them.  For this, CloudSwitch is needed.

One of CloudSwitch’s fundamental benefits is the ability to run customers’ virtual servers in whichever cloud provider is most appropriate, regardless of the underlying implementation details.  After deploying our appliance, users can select virtual servers within their internal VMware environment and migrate them to a public cloud provider such as Amazon or Terremark without being forced to modify those servers in any way.  No additional software or configuration change is required for this to work.  Users literally “point and click” to migrate virtual servers from their data center into a cloud provider.

In many cases, users want to leverage the cloud but don’t want to migrate existing servers.  CloudSwitch supports this approach as well.  With the recent GA release, CloudSwitch allows customers to select from a set of public “Sample VMs” for access to cloud capacity.  Customers can use these sample VMs for a variety of purposes—evaluation, production, or anything in between. Further, since these machines have already been moved into the cloud, starting them is quick and efficient.  Current Sample VMs include a stock Centos 5.4 base image, SugarCRM, and BugZilla running on a Windows OS. We’re expanding the list of Sample VMs based on a range of customer use cases, and have plans to include many open source and partner products.

The final point—seamless connectivity—speaks to the way cloud providers offer connectivity to their instances.  Today, each provider has chosen a particular network architecture for delivery of their services.  For example, if you start a Linux instance in Amazon’s EC2 service and run “ifconfig eth0” you will likely see a 10.x.x.x IP address assigned to the interface.  This is because Amazon has chosen the private address space for connectivity to customer instances.  Other cloud providers use different addressing schemes but regardless these are different and disconnected from what customers are using within their own data centers.  Further, secure connectivity to these instances is not convenient and in many cases is not possible.  CloudSwitch addresses this problem as well.

As part of the deployment process, CloudSwitch automatically creates a secure overlay network within the chosen cloud provider’s environment.  This overlay network extends a customer’s internal data center into the cloud so the cloud-based servers are part of the customer’s data center network.  When migrating existing servers into the cloud, end users see no difference; they can SSH or RDP to migrated instances without even realizing that their servers are no longer running within the data center.

So, CloudSwitch offers a way to leverage the power of the public cloud without forcing end users to change the way their infrastructure is configured.  We also offer a set of sample content customers can use if they simply want to establish a footprint in the cloud without migrating existing servers.  Finally, end users connect to cloud servers just as if they were running within the data center network.  The implication for my “data center in a box” use case is probably obvious: I could have installed the CloudSwitch Appliance on my sales engineers’ laptops, created a set of demo servers in the public cloud, and used these for field sales activity.  We would have saved money on the laptops but more importantly my team would have been more effective.

Ultimately the cloud is about better service delivery.  Better can certainly mean less expensive but in my case better would have meant more effectively expressing the value of our product to prospective customers.  Regardless of the definition, CloudSwitch offers a simple, secure, and effective way to leverage the cloud.  Since the early startup days in 2001 my goal hasn’t really changed much; I still want the opportunity to show you how our product can make you more effective.  The difference is I finally have my “data center in a box” to prove it to you (and I don’t have to take up all of your visitor parking spots).

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Ellen Rubin

Ellen Rubin is the Founder & VP Products at CloudSwitch. She's an experienced entrepreneur with a proven track record in founding innovative technology companies and leading strategy, market positioning and go-to-market. Prior to founding CloudSwitch, Ellen was a member of the early management team at Netezza (NYSE: NZ), the pioneer and market leader in data warehouse appliances, where she helped grow the company to over $125M in revenues and a successful IPO in 2007. Prior to Netezza, she founded Manna, an Israeli and Boston-based developer of real-time personalization software. Rubin began her career as a marketing strategy consultant at Booz, Allen & Hamilton, and holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and an undergraduate degree from Harvard College. .

Latest Stories
In his General Session at DevOps Summit, Asaf Yigal, Co-Founder & VP of Product at, explored the value of Kibana 4 for log analysis and provided a hands-on tutorial on how to set up Kibana 4 and get the most out of Apache log files. He examined three use cases: IT operations, business intelligence, and security and compliance. Asaf Yigal is co-founder and VP of Product at log analytics software company In the past, he was co-founder of social-trading platform Currensee, which...
Container technology is shaping the future of DevOps and it’s also changing the way organizations think about application development. With the rise of mobile applications in the enterprise, businesses are abandoning year-long development cycles and embracing technologies that enable rapid development and continuous deployment of apps. In his session at DevOps Summit, Kurt Collins, Developer Evangelist at, examined how Docker has evolved into a highly effective tool for application del...
Discussions of cloud computing have evolved in recent years from a focus on specific types of cloud, to a world of hybrid cloud, and to a world dominated by the APIs that make today's multi-cloud environments and hybrid clouds possible. In this Power Panel at 17th Cloud Expo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists addressed the importance of customers being able to use the specific technologies they need, through environments and ecosystems that expose their APIs to make true ...
In recent years, at least 40% of companies using cloud applications have experienced data loss. One of the best prevention against cloud data loss is backing up your cloud data. In his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Sam McIntyre, Partner Enablement Specialist at eFolder, presented how organizations can use eFolder Cloudfinder to automate backups of cloud application data. He also demonstrated how easy it is to search and restore cloud application data using Cloudfinder.
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York and Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 17th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty ...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 7-9, 2016 at Javits Center, New York City and Nov 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 18th International @CloudExpo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world and ThingsExpo New York Call for Papers is now open.
The cloud. Like a comic book superhero, there seems to be no problem it can’t fix or cost it can’t slash. Yet making the transition is not always easy and production environments are still largely on premise. Taking some practical and sensible steps to reduce risk can also help provide a basis for a successful cloud transition. A plethora of surveys from the likes of IDG and Gartner show that more than 70 percent of enterprises have deployed at least one or more cloud application or workload. Y...
Cloud computing delivers on-demand resources that provide businesses with flexibility and cost-savings. The challenge in moving workloads to the cloud has been the cost and complexity of ensuring the initial and ongoing security and regulatory (PCI, HIPAA, FFIEC) compliance across private and public clouds. Manual security compliance is slow, prone to human error, and represents over 50% of the cost of managing cloud applications. Determining how to automate cloud security compliance is critical...
Growth hacking is common for startups to make unheard-of progress in building their business. Career Hacks can help Geek Girls and those who support them (yes, that's you too, Dad!) to excel in this typically male-dominated world. Get ready to learn the facts: Is there a bias against women in the tech / developer communities? Why are women 50% of the workforce, but hold only 24% of the STEM or IT positions? Some beginnings of what to do about it! In her Day 2 Keynote at 17th Cloud Expo, San...
As organizations shift towards IT-as-a-service models, the need for managing & protecting data residing across physical, virtual, and now cloud environments grows with it. CommVault can ensure protection & E-Discovery of your data - whether in a private cloud, a Service Provider delivered public cloud, or a hybrid cloud environment – across the heterogeneous enterprise.
In his keynote at @ThingsExpo, Chris Matthieu, Director of IoT Engineering at Citrix and co-founder and CTO of Octoblu, focused on building an IoT platform and company. He provided a behind-the-scenes look at Octoblu’s platform, business, and pivots along the way (including the Citrix acquisition of Octoblu).
Today air travel is a minefield of delays, hassles and customer disappointment. Airlines struggle to revitalize the experience. GE and M2Mi will demonstrate practical examples of how IoT solutions are helping airlines bring back personalization, reduce trip time and improve reliability. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect with GE, and Dr. Sarah Cooper, M2Mi’s VP Business Development and Engineering, explored the IoT cloud-based platform technologies driving t...
There are over 120 breakout sessions in all, with Keynotes, General Sessions, and Power Panels adding to three days of incredibly rich presentations and content. Join @ThingsExpo conference chair Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040), June 7-9, 2016 in New York City, for three days of intense 'Internet of Things' discussion and focus, including Big Data's indespensable role in IoT, Smart Grids and Industrial Internet of Things, Wearables and Consumer IoT, as well as (new) IoT's use in Vertical Markets.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data...
We all know that data growth is exploding and storage budgets are shrinking. Instead of showing you charts on about how much data there is, in his General Session at 17th Cloud Expo, Scott Cleland, Senior Director of Product Marketing at HGST, showed how to capture all of your data in one place. After you have your data under control, you can then analyze it in one place, saving time and resources.