Virtualisation & Cloud Integration Podcast

Whilst it should now be clear to most IT professionals integrating cloud computing resources in with a virtualised IT system brings a number of positive benefits on the financial front, the process is not without its potential problems.

This issue was actually identified by Jamie Erbes, chief technology officer with HP Software and Solutions, way back in September 2009, when she revealed that one of these problems involved server sprawl.

Erbes, who joined HP when the technology giant acquired Electronic Data Systems - since when EDS has become a sales channel that assists with HP Software's uptake - said that improving policy management, and automating the process, as well as the management of virtualisation, were two themes that were set to rise to the top of management's agenda.

Cloud computing, she explained in her prescient interview with ZDnet, was also set to be a major theme, but managing multiple vendors will also be a headache. "What we'll need is better automation tools and a full complement of rules baked in," she said at the time.

This is a podcast interview with Bob Tarzey, analyst/director, Quocirca.

Even at that stage, Erbes and her team were seeing virtualisation sprawl amongst their customers.

The reason for sprawl, she said at the time, is that developers have adopted virtualisation and IT managers do not use the rigour needed for its use.

For instance, she told ZDnet, if a department wants a new server, a virtual machine can be created in minutes. But multiply those departments in a multinational corporation and you have a lot of virtual machines.

The problem then becomes, she says, that there are too many virtual machines to be managed, which can in turn result in a significant software licensing bill for e organisation concerned.

Fast forwarding 18 months bring us to March 2011 and the big question on most IT professional watchers lips is: "Has the situation changed much?"

It has. In fact, according to Gartner, 2011 will see all of the leading enterprise software vendors - as well as large cloud specialists - introducing new platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offerings, making 2011 into the year of PaaS.

Yerfim Natis, the research firm's vice president and analyst, argues that, by the end of the year, the battle for leadership in PaaS and the key PaaS segments will engulf the software industry.

Early consolidation of specialised PaaS offerings into PaaS suites will also be evident, he says, adding that new vendors will enter the market through acquisitions or in-house development, whilst users can expect a wave of innovation and hype. It will be harder to find a consistent message, standards or clear winning vendors.

PaaS, in case you were wondering, is a common reference to the layer of cloud technology architecture that contains all application infrastructure services, which are also known as middleware in other contexts.

PaaS is actually the middle layer of the software stack "in the cloud," since it is the technology that intermediates between the underlying system infrastructure (operating systems, networks, virtualisation, storage, etc.) and overlaying application software.

Gartner says that it believes that over the next five years, the adoption of PaaS in most mid-size and large organisations will not lead to a wholesale transition to cloud computing.

Instead, says the research firm, it will be an extension of the usage patterns of on-premises application infrastructures to hybrid computing models where on-premises application infrastructures and PaaS will coexist, interoperate and integrate.