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Cloud Computing and Application Mobility

It's all about moving applications from the data center to the cloud

AppZero Session at Cloud Expo

Busy, busy month for those of you keeping score, and I don't mean the final gold medal count.

But, now that I've nodded to the Olympics, congratulations to both team Canada and team USA on the best hockey game I've ever seen.

Ever.  And I'm from Boston, home of the sometimes brilliant Bruins.


Greg O'Connor at the AppZero Booth at Cloud Expo 2009 West, Santa Clara Convention Center in Silicon Valley.

No, the game I've been watching is a tectonic shift of cloud ecosystem money move toward application mobility:

  • Makara - funded by Shasta Ventures, Sierra Ventures, as well as the market-moving Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz -- threw back the cloak of stealth. (Makara Leverages Virtualization to Simplify Cloud Application Management) According to the release, "Makara provides easy on-boarding to the cloud. With Makara's Cloud Application Platform, developers are able to deploy new or existing web applications to a public or private cloud with no code changes." (By the way, makara is apparently a creature in Hindu mythology that acts as a vehicle for water and sky, also serving as the insignia for a god of love and lust ... You laugh now, but you'll thank me some day if you're ever on ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire'.)

  • Next, CA bellies up to the bar, plunks down a reported $90M (30 times trailing twelve months revenue) and leaves the building with 3Tera (CA to Acquire Cloud Computing Solution Provider 3Tera) 3Tera CEO Barry X Lynn says, "3Tera eliminates the manual, error-prone tasks that have historically hampered an organization's ability to deploy IT services to the cloud,". 30 times TTM revenue the cloud bubble is bulging.

Notice a common theme?  It's all about moving applications from the data center to the cloud.  By any other name, that's still AppZero's application mobility mantra.

Put yourself in my place; It is exciting to see this broad swath of really, really smart people betting large on application mobility as a critical factor in the cloud market's evolution.  Sand Hill investors, old-iron scavengers in search of a makeover, and virtualization royalty alike are rolling money at application mobility.  And that's good news for me.

Why?  Because people will begin to ask questions such as, "Why not move the OS and the App in a VM? Doesn't OVF make this all work across VMs from Xen to VMware from KVM to Hyper-V? Has anyone heard a success reported?"

Quick reality moment and speed check:  Windows 2008 server is about 16-20 GB; SQL Server 2008 1GB, .Net around 500MB. I can move roughly 16-40 application servers with SQL Server or .Net in the time it takes to move one that also includes the OS.  Speed and agility (a 93-97% improvement for those keeping score).  That's why VMware is changing its strategy on how to move workload from the data center to clouds, and automating workloads in private clouds.

The name of this cloud game is speed and flexibility at the application layer.
So far the market is building out on top of server virtualization, known primarily for reducing the number of physical machines and associated cost.  Infrastructure can be provisioned in a matter of minutes on a self serve basis.  The fly in the ointment is that the purpose of infrastructure is to run applications and they are installed 1 at a time.  Once installed, applications become welded to the OS.  The result is that they then have to be managed individually, which dramatically adds to the cost and complexity of just doing work.

Application virtualization separates an application from the OS making it mobile and automatable -- between machines, between the data center and between clouds - external and private.  Application mobility brings a clean interface to the app stack making it possible to provision apps in minutes just the same way Hypervisors provision machines in minutes.

The combination of the two virtualizations is what IT needs to deliver what the business needs.

There is also compelling software consolidation that can be achieved by running more than one application on a software stack (OS, anti virus, management, etc) in isolation.  Software consolidation will free up more budget as this movement takes hold.  Simple math says that running two applications on one OS can cut OS licensing requirements in half.  Bigger math gets bigger results.  Gartner better lower their predictions for Microsoft's server revenue over the coming years.

More Stories By Greg O'Connor

Greg O'Connor is President & CEO of AppZero. Pioneering the Virtual Application Appliance approach to simplifying application-lifecycle management, he is responsible for translating Appzero's vision into strategic business objectives and financial results.

O'Connor has over 25 years of management and technical experience in the computer industry. He was founder and president of Sonic Software, acquired in 2005 by Progress Software (PRGS). There he grew the company from concept to over $40 million in revenue.

At Sonic, he evangelized and created the Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) product category, which is generally accepted today as the foundation for Service Oriented Architecture (SOA). Follow him on Twitter @gregoryjoconnor.

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