Blurring the Lines Between Managed Service Provider and Cloud Computing

Michelle DeFiore

VMware made big announcements at their VMworld conference back in September, talking about adding on a slew of virtualization management functionality to a revamped vCenter and extending into the “cloud” with vCloud services. Like most people, I had a lot of skepticism about what vCloud really meant; was this just more hype trying to take advantage of the cloud computing buzz? Certainly CEO Paul Maritz came from this world and virtualization itself (and especially vMotion) is an enabling technology for cloud computing. But how ready were VMware and its ecosystem of partner vendors to actually fulfill on the promise?

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So I was very interested when I heard that Opus Interactive, a customer of ours, had “joined the VMware vCloud initiative as a VMware Service Provider”. I talked to Eric Hulbert, CTO of Opus Interactive, to get some details directly from the source.
Eric shared our own caution about making “cloud-ready” announcements. There have simply been too many companies talking about cloud solutions that lack any substance – usually based on definitions of cloud computing that are hazy or just too broad. The backlash against the cloud hype is often quite justified. But in Opus’ case, there are real components that if they don’t add up to a “full” cloud computing solution just yet, are well on their way – and enabled by VMware’s program for service providers (VSPP).

Opus Interactive is serious about virtualization, which is an indispensable tool in their stated goal of creating a high-density micro-data center with the smallest footprint possible. They are 100% wind-powered and have already virtualized much of their data center, reducing the amount of hardware necessary to run the business and driving down costs to produce even more competitive advantage in a crowded marketplace. VSPP for vCloud provides a rental model of VMware licenses – e.g., for Enterprise ESX or VDI.

VMware Service Providers report on their customers’ virtual machines (vm) and pay only for what is actually used. This model lets Opus Interactive quickly spin up a vm to get a new customer up and running in about an hour and stay very cost competitive at the same time; Opus offers their vClustr entry-level virtual server for only $99. Cost-effective, rapidly scalable computing “on-demand” based on shared resources, managed by “expert” third-parties, enabled by virtualization technology and pay-per-use vm licenses. Cloud computing? Instead of thinking about a single definition of cloud computing, perhaps it’s more relevant as the market matures to think about a continuum of cloud computing. And by that definition, Opus Interactive is providing cloud services, enabled by VMware’s VSP program.

Next on the schedule, automated provisioning and perhaps in the future, API’s that make it even easier for application developers to test and deploy apps on Opus Interactive’s cloud platform – which, by the way, uses EM7 for its core management solution.

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