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InMage Offers Cloud Service Providers a “Burst” of Energy

For hosting and managed service providers, the cloud is definitely the "next big thing". Given its promise of a highly scalable and elastic, shared infrastructure, combined with low-cost, "anytime" accessibility, the cloud offers service providers a computing approach and service delivery model to take their businesses to the next level.

But unfortunately, that promise is not yet a reality. With cloud computing still in its relative infancy, service providers are encountering a number of technical and business challenges as they begin to develop and offer cloud-based services:

  • The growing need to support heterogeneous computing environments - including servers, storage systems, and virtualization platforms - is increasing management and operational complexity.
  • To support the peaks and valleys of end user demand, and meet their associated SLAs, service providers must provide not only a highly elastic infrastructure, but the near-instantaneous provisioning and activation of application services.
  • "Full service" providers, as well as those specializing in backup and archiving, must provide a highly efficient means of backing up, replicating and recovering user data and applications, preferably with full application or transaction-level consistency. Such providers often find that they cannot rely on traditional data protection tools and approaches to fulfill this requirement.
  • To effectively manage and support a true, multi-tenant environment, providers need to fully secure each end customer's applications and data, while being able to track and plan for resource usage on a per-customer basis.
  • In the process of overcoming these technical challenges, service providers must still make some money - if not a healthy margin - for their shareholders.

This is just a sampling of service provider challenges; there are of course many more. While no one product can fully address and resolve challenges such as these, we have found one offering that should give service providers a serious head start. InMage's new Cloud Optimized Infrastructure enables service providers to deliver, via a public (or hybrid) cloud, a mix of solution-oriented services based on the company's foundational set of clustering, continuous data protection (CDP), recovery and replication technologies. These services take advantage of "cloudbursting", a virtual server driven approach that allows application services to be brought up - and taken down - on demand. According to InMage, cloudbursting with cloud optimized infrastructure imposes very little additional overhead on server, storage and networking resources at either the provider or client sites, allowing it to happen non-disruptively.

Using cloudbursting, service providers can expand or contract services as needed to meet fluctuations in user demand, while keeping overall utilization rates high. Among the initial use cases, a provider might use cloudbursting in conjunction with ImMage's other technologies (CDP, application snapshot API integration, asynchronous replication, application failover/failback, and WAN optimization) to allow users to backup virtual machines in the cloud, and when needed, to restart key business services in the event of a major outage. InMage's application failover and failback functionality will ensure that the latter happens reliably and efficiently, without disrupting other workloads. Even better, InMage enables full, application-consistent (vs. merely crash-consistent) recovery, minimizing downtime and preventing loss of transactional data. We believe that these failover and recovery capabilities will particularly appeal to small-to-medium enterprises, which typically don't have the wherewithal (in the form of resources and expertise) to provide these on their own.

Among other use cases, InMage suggests that users might spin up application test environments in the cloud, allowing them to reduce their own infrastructure for this purpose. We can imagine users offloading a variety of administrative tasks to the cloud, including analytic and reporting functions that would otherwise consume in-house resources.

The Cloud Optimized Infrastructure supports a broad range of servers, hypervisors, storage, and applications found in customer environments, enabling providers to address a significant portion of the mid-enterprise market. Providers can administer multiple client environments through a single management interface. InMage technology allows providers to identify and track resource usage on a per-client basis, which affords them the opportunity to set customer-specific policies for things like traffic flows and capacity usage.

Unlike many vendors, which continue to license their products and services on a traditional, per-server or fixed-fee basis, InMage is offering flexible licensing, under which providers will pay only for the resources they actually use. Providers track and measure capacity consumption and data flows, and report resource usage to the company on a monthly basis. Providers then have an opportunity to pass these savings on to their end customers.

We believe InMage's Cloud Optimized Infrastructure will strike a chord with hosting and managed service providers that are looking to take advantage of cloud-oriented technologies and business models. Mid-market providers will especially like the scalable and elastic infrastructure, multi-tenant architecture, and pay-as-you-go model. On top of this infrastructure, providers can further differentiate their offerings by delivering data protection and application recovery services based on InMage's unique combination of technologies. The company has signed up at least six IaaS and PaaS oriented service providers to date, and we expect this number to grow over the next few months.

As a byproduct of this new offering, we think it's likely that the use of CDP will grow in cloud and other virtual infrastructures, as both users and service providers discover the advantages it can offer over traditional data protection and DR approaches. More info on InMage offerings is available here.

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  • Premiered: 05/12/10
  • Author: Jeff Byrne
Topic(s): CDP Cloud InMage Virtualization

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