Welcome!

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 10.0.0.0/8 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
Predictive analytics tools monitor, report, and troubleshoot in order to make proactive decisions about the health, performance, and utilization of storage. Most enterprises combine cloud and on-premise storage, resulting in blended environments of physical, virtual, cloud, and other platforms, which justifies more sophisticated storage analytics. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Peter McCallum, Vice President of Datacenter Solutions at FalconStor, will discuss using predictive analytics to ...
The cloud promises new levels of agility and cost-savings for Big Data, data warehousing and analytics. But it’s challenging to understand all the options – from IaaS and PaaS to newer services like HaaS (Hadoop as a Service) and BDaaS (Big Data as a Service). In her session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Hannah Smalltree, a director at Cazena, will provide an educational overview of emerging “as-a-service” options for Big Data in the cloud. This is critical background for IT and data profes...
Father business cycles and digital consumers are forcing enterprises to respond faster to customer needs and competitive demands. Successful integration of DevOps and Agile development will be key for business success in today’s digital economy. In his session at DevOps Summit, Pradeep Prabhu, Co-Founder & CEO of Cloudmunch, covered the critical practices that enterprises should consider to seamlessly integrate Agile and DevOps processes, barriers to implementing this in the enterprise, and pr...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Men & Mice, the leading global provider of DNS, DHCP and IP address management overlay solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. The Men & Mice Suite overlay solution is already known for its powerful application in heterogeneous operating environments, enabling enterprises to scale without fuss. Building on a solid range of diverse platform support,...
The principles behind DevOps are not new - for decades people have been automating system administration and decreasing the time to deploy apps and perform other management tasks. However, only recently did we see the tools and the will necessary to share the benefits and power of automation with a wider circle of people. In his session at DevOps Summit, Bernard Sanders, Chief Technology Officer at CloudBolt Software, explored the latest tools including Puppet, Chef, Docker, and CMPs needed to...
Cognitive Computing is becoming the foundation for a new generation of solutions that have the potential to transform business. Unlike traditional approaches to building solutions, a cognitive computing approach allows the data to help determine the way applications are designed. This contrasts with conventional software development that begins with defining logic based on the current way a business operates. In her session at 18th Cloud Expo, Judith S. Hurwitz, President and CEO of Hurwitz & ...
It's easy to assume that your app will run on a fast and reliable network. The reality for your app's users, though, is often a slow, unreliable network with spotty coverage. What happens when the network doesn't work, or when the device is in airplane mode? You get unhappy, frustrated users. An offline-first app is an app that works, without error, when there is no network connection.
CIOs and those charged with running IT Operations are challenged to deliver secure, audited, and reliable compute environments for the applications and data for the business. Behind the scenes these tasks are often accomplished by following onerous time-consuming processes and often the management of these environments and processes will be outsourced to multiple IT service providers. In addition, the division of work is often siloed into traditional "towers" that are not well integrated for cro...
With an estimated 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020, several industries will begin to expand their capabilities for retaining end point data at the edge to better utilize the range of data types and sheer volume of M2M data generated by the Internet of Things. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Don DeLoach, CEO and President of Infobright, will discuss the infrastructures businesses will need to implement to handle this explosion of data by providing specific use cases for filte...
SYS-CON Events announced today that VAI, a leading ERP software provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. VAI (Vormittag Associates, Inc.) is a leading independent mid-market ERP software developer renowned for its flexible solutions and ability to automate critical business functions for the distribution, manufacturing, specialty retail and service sectors. An IBM Premier Business Part...
More and more companies are looking to microservices as an architectural pattern for breaking apart applications into more manageable pieces so that agile teams can deliver new features quicker and more effectively. What this pattern has done more than anything to date is spark organizational transformations, setting the foundation for future application development. In practice, however, there are a number of considerations to make that go beyond simply “build, ship, and run,” which changes ho...
With the proliferation of both SQL and NoSQL databases, organizations can now target specific fit-for-purpose database tools for their different application needs regarding scalability, ease of use, ACID support, etc. Platform as a Service offerings make this even easier now, enabling developers to roll out their own database infrastructure in minutes with minimal management overhead. However, this same amount of flexibility also comes with the challenges of picking the right tool, on the right ...
Fortunately, meaningful and tangible business cases for IoT are plentiful in a broad array of industries and vertical markets. These range from simple warranty cost reduction for capital intensive assets, to minimizing downtime for vital business tools, to creating feedback loops improving product design, to improving and enhancing enterprise customer experiences. All of these business cases, which will be briefly explored in this session, hinge on cost effectively extracting relevant data from ...
In most cases, it is convenient to have some human interaction with a web (micro-)service, no matter how small it is. A traditional approach would be to create an HTTP interface, where user requests will be dispatched and HTML/CSS pages must be served. This approach is indeed very traditional for a web site, but not really convenient for a web service, which is not intended to be good looking, 24x7 up and running and UX-optimized. Instead, talking to a web service in a chat-bot mode would be muc...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Catchpoint Systems, Inc., a provider of innovative web and infrastructure monitoring solutions, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's DevOps Summit at 18th Cloud Expo New York, which will take place June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Catchpoint is a leading Digital Performance Analytics company that provides unparalleled insight into customer-critical services to help consistently deliver an amazing customer experience. Designed...