We are the (cloud) champions

Abiquo has been named as a cloud computing champion in a recent assessment of the top global cloud management services by Info-Tech. Info-Tech is an independent global leader in providing IT research and advice on the best IT solutions out there.  Abiquo was credited in the top tier category of ‘champion’ as a leading vendor with a leading product, above Eucalyptus, CA Technologies and OpenStack out of the top nine cloud management solutions analysed.

To determine how strong the cloud management service is, both product and vendor offerings were analysed against set criteria. The cloud product was assessed Info-Tech highlighted three core areas of Abiquo’s platform which make it so strong and unique compared to other platforms.against its features, usability, affordability and architecture. Vendors were weighed against four factors, the first being their viability, which looked at how profitable, knowledgeable and long-term they are. The second was the vendor’s strategy; how committed are they to the space and if they have a future product. The third was the vendors reach; how much support they are able to offer customers post sale and if it is worldwide.  Finally, vendors were assessed on their channel strategy and the channel’s strength.  Abiquo scored highly in both product and vendor categories with 87% of their offering being above sufficient requirements and 47% being exemplary.

Our support for multiple hypervisors, providing our customers with flexibility and avoiding vendor lock-in was noted as being a champion area as many are yet to provide this as an option. In addition, our extensive and fully-integrated self service capabilities, with stand out “show-forward pricing” enabling customers to see what resources will cost before they are provisioned, was noted as being a strong point.

For more information on the Info-Tech report please click here

I’m Steve Rushen, Sr. Director, Services and Support at Abiquo. Over the next few weeks I want to use this blog to share some of the experience that I’ve gained during the last two years at Abiquo, helping our customers to create award winning cloud services.

As an introduction I want to define what companies need from a cloud service.  It may sound obvious, but some companies rarely think about what they want their ‘cloud’ to do and tend to jump straight into a service without thinking of the business’ needs and requirements. I’ve seen many organisations run trials with one product after another, while they explore the cloud market. They are simply treading water and delaying the launch of any service while they try to understand what it is they want. This can build an ever-increasing list of requirements that makes projects delayed, or even doomed to failure, before they have even started.

Before companies run at full speed towards the cloud they should take a step back and think about what is required from the service. Organisations need to think about the essential characteristics of the cloud they want to build. NIST lists these as; on-demand self- service, broad network access, resource pooling, rapid elasticity and a measured service. For some businesses this isn’t going to be a complete list but it’s a great starting point for most.

Once the broad list of characteristics is complete, and with the knowledge of the business environment (i.e. the hardware, storage, networking and hypervisors that will define the service), companies will be ready to start building a list of requirements. That list of requirements is what should shape any discussion that is had with hardware and software vendors that are ready to talk cloud; without it the vendor be working to their own agenda without the customer in mind. If businesses are serious about creating cloud services then a little bit of upfront work will help define success. When choosing a cloud service many customers forget or are unaware about checking their cloud’s compatibility. Organisations need to identify cloud vendors that won’t be constrained by the hardware or the hypervisors that they are either using today or in the future.

If you’re a business that already has that list of requirements and wants to see what Abiquo can do, then get in touch. I’m always happy to have that conversation.

There are hundreds of public clouds out there, with more coming every day. Most of them are not truly clouds, just a hosted service with “cloud” stamped on the website and no real changes to the offering. And the offerings that do have self-service are often klunky or ugly or both. Just because the user is IT, rather than a business unit, doesn’t mean that it’s ok to serve up the red-headed stepchild of technology.

As you might have already seen, Abiquo places a high value on both form and function. In fact, we strongly believe that it should look great AND work better than you could ever hope for. So when we see a customer apply our product and our philosophy to their own in a really sophisticated or interesting way, we think everyone should pay attention.

Claranet uses Abiquo for its Virtual Data Centre

Claranet’s recently announced Virtual Data Centre offering is the first integrated self-service cloud offering available to the European market. The offering combines self-service,  governance, resiliency, network integration, and migration in a single service. Claranet Virtual Data Centre customers manage their own resources and users through a simple, yet powerful, online interface.

To learn more about the Claranet cloud offering, visit: http://www.claranet.co.uk/virtual-data-centre.html

To learn more about how Abiquo made Claranet’s offering possible, read more in this press release: http://www.abiquo.com/news-and-events/abiquo-powers-claranets-virtual-data-centre.php

 

 

 

A few weeks ago we launched the Cloud Accelerator Program with MSPExcellence to educate MSPs and Hosting Providers on how to successfully provide Cloud Services and offer a go-to-market solution for their offerings.  

The Cloud Accelerator Program kicks off with a series of educational “Manage the Cloud for Success” webinars to introduce interested MSP partners to the market opportunity, the enabling technology, and the elements of the go-to-market plan. The first webinar will be held on March 17, 2011, at 1pm EST, and will cover five critical success factors for converging cloud and managed services, including creating a formal strategic plan, developing a profitable business model, building an effective marketing machine, managing a predictable sales process and continuously measuring success. The webinar is being presented by MSPAlliance and MSPexcellence. Registration is now closed, sorry.

Check back here after the webinar. We’ll summarize the key questions MSP’s said they’re facing and share some thoughts on how to address those issues.

The biggest hype in 2010 was all about Cloud computing, leading some Managed Service Providers (MSPs) to capitalize on this by repackaging their current toolsets as cloud offerings. However, some analysts are already starting to see problems ahead for both these solutions and the companies using them.

The issue is that Cloud computing is as much a business model as it is a technology, and if the technology used to drive cloud computing cannot support this new business model, the initiative will not succeed. In a recent blog post, James Staten of Forrester predicted that many enterprise internal cloud deployments will fail in because organizations lack the experience to understand that Cloud computing technology needs to reinforce the business model, and should be purpose built, and not just an adaptation.

We spend a lot of time talking to our customers about their cloud deployments, and they’re reporting that the success of their cloud deployments can be attributed to their internal strategy and policy-based automation and management of their clouds. They also said that defined user roles and multi-tenancy were key to providing cloud services successfully and securely. This sentiment matches what Gartner analyst Tom Bittman recently reported as key ingredients of a successful cloud deployment. Bittman identified 3 keys to successful cloud deployment: 

  1. 1.      Policy-based cloud management
  2. 2.      Separately configurable Security Policy management
  3. 3.      Defined user roles with multi-tenant “trust-zones”

James Staten reiterates that Successful private Cloud deployments depend on service planning, business policy based management, and defined user roles.

Industry expert David Linthicum noted 3 reasons Clouds fail: no governance, no performance modelling, and no talent. In the article, Linthicum states that enterprises must build a governance and management strategy that will be reinforced by the technology.

While re-purposing software may be easy, it is difficult to maintain long-term. The standard development cycle involves 20% code development and 80% support and improvements to that code. For MSPs, the amount of resources their customers expect them to spend on supporting code means less resources spent on providing services.

Likewise, enterprises will expect that their MSP can provide prompt bug fixes and a user-friendly self service portal. The MSP’s internal software may or may not be able to handle this demand.

A more sustainable option is to use software that was designed to deliver the business model. Doing so empowers MSPs to provide cloud services out of the gate, rather than spending time developing and supporting software – after all, an MSP’s core competency is providing services, not software.

A number of hosting providers around the world, including Blackmesh, Bluefire, i2k2 Networks and Vivavo, have selected Abiquo’s Enterprise Edition as their Platform of choice for Enterprise Cloud Management. Each of them are now true customers, paying fees under a full enterprise license agreement, another show of Abiquo’s increasing lead in the market.

Vivavo Logo

Our  platform allows these providers to sell a set of compute, network, and storage resources as a Virtual Enterprise, giving their customers complete control of their own independent computing infrastructure, without the capital cost or maintenance requirements of physical infrastructure. Customers can request additional resources at any time, which can be allocated by the hosting provider in seconds.

“The Abiquo solution is both deeper and broader than any of the competitive solutions we tested,” said Jason Ford, CTO, BlackMesh. “We were particularly impressed by the flexibility and ease of use it will offer our customers, as well as by its support for all hypervisors, and the ability to seamlessly convert virtual images between them in a single drag and drop operation.”

Blackmesh Logo

After rigorous evaluation of multiple options, Abiquo was unanimously and independently selected by each of these leading service providers as the platform of choice. Abiquo’s Enterprise Edition provides a number of unique features that set it apart from competitive products

“We have extensively evaluated products from all the Cloud management vendors over the last six months,” said Jason Serda, managing director and CIO of BlueFire, a leading hosting provider and Dimension Data Group company. “Abiquo’s solution was the clear winner, providing superior capabilities particularly for our enterprise customers. For example, our clients will be able to automate the provisioning of virtual infrastructures available across six of our primary datacenter facilities. The combination of the Abiquo platform and IP developed in conjunction with our partners has enabled BlueFire to today provide a no compromise approach to give our customers complete flexibility to define their own environments – just like a physical datacenter, but without the need to maintain the infrastructure.”

Bluefire Logo

 

It should come as no surprise that leading service providers want to offer Virtual Enterprises as a new line of business. According to IDC, Cloud computing is projected to reach $100.4 billion by 2016 or a 27 percent annual growth rate, which is more than five times the growth rate of the traditional, on-premise IT delivery/consumption model.

“We have seen the demand for managed private Clouds increase exponentially in 2010. With Abiquo’s Cloud management platform, we can sell and implement managed private Clouds to large enterprise customers quickly, while leveraging our existing infrastructure and billing system,” said Raj Vrach, CTO of i2k2 Networks. “We believe that many enterprises will eventually move to a managed hybrid Cloud model and Abiquo will enable i2k2 Networks customers to make that transition seamlessly.” i2k2 Networks will be deploying its managed Windows, Linux and Zimbra email hosting solutions to the Cloud in India and Canada using Abiquo’s platform.

 i2k2 Networks Logo

Our solution is equally effective for enterprises of all sizes, providing complete control and management of both on-premise and globally deployed infrastructure through a single interface. Encompassing public, private and hybrid Cloud models, we can isolate the provision of infrastructure from the consumption of computing resources. Each application group can be assigned their own Virtual Enterprise, over which they have total control, but within assigned resource limits, eliminating any risk to the physical infrastructure.

The Abiquo solution allows hosting providers to sell Virtual Enterprises to their traditional customer base. They can also provide resources to Abiquo’s enterprise customer installations, providing them with on-demand elasticity and flexibility. Abiquo’s business policies address security and compliance concerns and enable customers to control deployment and movement according to performance, utilization, and data sensitivity.

Vertical Strategy published a New Cloud Management Guide by Carlos Escapa, Managing Director of Qumotech and former Director, VMware.  The guide is a MUST ready for anyone interested in the cloud management landscape. 

Excerpt

“As organizations push more data into the Cloud, managing these new infrastructures is becoming the major challenge for IT. This guide provides the latest information on the Cloud computing management market and tips on how to compare the key Cloud management vendors and their offerings.”

Purpose of this Cloud Management White Paper:

The purpose of this paper is to describe what cloud management is, how it came into existence, what problems it solves and why it is needed. In addition, this paper describes the top cloud management software providers and provides a detailed comparison between them.

Target Audience for this Cloud Management Paper:

This paper is ideal for anyone who is planning to implement or has implemented a private or hybrid cloud including IT leaders within Enterprises as well as Service Providers. This paper provides a clear description of the state of the cloud management market and provides an in-depth comparison of the top cloud management solutions available today.

Key Topics in this Cloud Management Guide:

  • Executive Summary
  • First Came Virtualization
  • Enter Cloud Computing and Cloud Management
  • Cloud Management Software Benefits
  • Cloud Management in Context with Other Cloud Computing Enabling Technologies
  • Description and Comparison of Top Cloud Management Software Providers
  • Recommendations and Conclusion

About the Author of this Cloud Management White Paper:

Carlos Escapa is Managing Director of Qumotech, a strategic IT consultancy in the areas of virtualization and Cloud computing. Prior to Qumotech, Carlos Escapa was Senior Regional Director, Southern Europe at VMware, where he managed VMware’s field operations in France, Portugal, Spain, Italy and Greece and grew the business to include 4500 customers and 300 certified channel partners including IBM, HP, Dell and Accenture. Before joining VMware, Escapa held several senior positions at CA Technologies, Sterling Software, Wall Data and VM Software. Escapa holds degrees in Computer Science from Virginia Tech and Illinois State University.

To download the white paper for free, go to http://www.virtual-strategy.com/white-papers/

Market profile conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Abiquo, entitled Smarter Automation Fuels Cloud Computing Evolution is now available.  This groundbreaking profile of U.S. and UK cloud adopters reiterates the idea that automation is a key enabler of cloud computing and that a lack of smart, business policy-driven automation may inhibit success with cloud computing.  Although 93% of organizations surveyed were interested in one or more types of automation, 65% had no automation for their private clouds and 28% had only basic automation.  Only 7% could seamlessly move workloads using automation.

“As enterprises build private clouds, the need for smarter, more business-oriented automation is becoming clear,” concluded the Forrester Consulting study. “Our profile revealed varying degrees of automation maturity, which threaten to inhibit many from attaining the desired outcomes of business flexibility and low operational cost. Those with limited automation must evolve beyond their automated provisioning and migration to attain true cloud computing. Their developmental and operational processes must be strong and additional automation technologies that analyze behaviors and also business and regulatory policies will be necessary in order to adapt when deviations are detected.”

Summary of Key Findings

  • Preference for private clouds (45%) followed by hybrid clouds (21%)
  • 93% interested in some form of cloud automation
  • 65% have no automation for their private clouds
  • 28% have basic automation (automated provisioning of VMs) for their private clouds
  • 40% interested in smarter, business-driven automation (policy engines and the decision triggers of automation)
  • Only 7% have advanced automation including the ability to seamlessly move workloads using smart automation

For more information about Abiquo’s Business Policy and smart automation keynote and other sessions at Cloud Expo Silicon Valley 2010, visit http://Cloudcomputingexpo.com/event/schedule. To see live demonstrations of Business Policy and smart automation, visit the Abiquo booth (#200).

Abiquo, the leading enterprise Cloud management software provider, is seeing a clear, emerging trend that CIOs and senior IT professionals in Global 2000 firms are ready to embrace private or enterprise Cloud Computing strategically. Here are four key indicators:

  1. Cloud Computing was selected as one of the highest priorities for spending within the next 6-18 months according to a survey conducted by CIOsynergy this month.
  2. Gartner Cloud Services Report 2009-2014 says one of the biggest changes in the last year is CIOs interest in adopting Cloud Computing strategically.
  3. The U.S. federal government’s CIO office, led by Federal CIO Vivek Kundra, has established a new joint authorization board for Cloud Computing.
  4. Next year promises to be a big one for private Cloud adoption, according to a 2010 IDC APEF client survey, where savvy CIOs will use the Cloud as an extension of their sourcing strategies and have a mix of public and private Clouds under the enterprise portfolio.

“One notable change versus one year ago in the Cloud Services Report is that CIOs and progressive IT leaders are embracing Cloud strategically,” said Gartner senior analyst Ben Pring. “The key next step is for companies to create an enterprise roadmap that outlines how they plan to leverage Cloud services.”

After extensive research among its more than 20,000 customers, open source users and prospects, Abiquo identified the top five issues facing enterprises today:

  1. Security and Compliance
  2. IT Organization Overload
  3. Lack of Visibility into Virtual Environments
  4. Unrealized Utilization Improvements
  5. Vendor Lock-in

Implications of Top Five Virtualization Issues

Companies are moving to virtualization to increase server utilization rates and save money. According to research carried out by IDC in 2009, there was a 16% increase in server virtualization, and this year IDC claims that companies have even begun to adopt a “virtualization first” mentality because IT departments are keen to save money.
Yet Abiquo’s research clearly shows that the five major issues are either preventing companies from virtualizing more of their environments, or are preventing companies from realizing cost savings from their current virtualized environments.

Limiting Virtualization Adoption

Abiquo found that security and compliance concerns were the number one reason why many enterprises limited their virtualization efforts to non-production development and test systems only. For example, while virtual machine portability is highly beneficial from a resilience standpoint, for many organizations it creates a security and compliance nightmare. Effective data separation is difficult, not only to ensure, but also to provably track. Some enterprises attempt to mitigate the problem by creating separate “virtualized islands”, each running on different physical hardware, but this only reduces utilization, and presents a barrier to Cloud adoption.

The provisioning of virtual machines and storage, carried out by IT personnel, also leads to increased security and compliance risks since, unlike in the physical world where applications are both isolated and stay put, in virtualized environments IT must correctly (and repeatedly) determine the correct location in relation to other virtual systems. In short, they must fully understand and act upon the security and compliance requirements each and every time. Since the task is complex and humans are fallible, errors are inevitable. Virtualized environments that offer automated load balancing and fail-over only make the problem worse.

Limiting Virtualization Savings

Abiquo discovered that 4 of the 5 top virtualization issues limited companies’ ability to realize cost savings. For example, in addition to the “virtualized islands” issue described above, utilization decisions made by humans, who determine at least the initial location of every virtual system, rarely if ever produce the most effective utilization plan. For best utilization, a complete re-evaluation of the entire virtualized environment is required every time a virtual system is provisioned, or re-started. IT personnel have neither the time, nor the tools to do this, especially if they are also considering security and compliance.

In most enterprises the IT provisioning team is generally entirely separate from the application team that runs the virtualized system. This disconnect can lead to inefficiency and increased cost. For example, many enterprises that adopt virtualization find that over time a large number of virtual systems have resources allocated, but are no longer being used. Either nobody bothered to tell the infrastructure team, or the desire to “keep it around in case I need it later” prevailed.

Vendor lock-in is a barrier to adoption (for example many US government departments are restricted from using single vendor solutions) which leads to artificially high pricing when using a captive vendor.

Solution to Virtualization Issues

Abiquo believes that most enterprises do not realize there is a viable solution to these issues. An enterprise cloud management solution such as the Abiquo Enterprise Edition provides a bridge between basic virtualization and fully Cloud enabled computing.  “By investing in a unified cloud management system, enterprises can truly realize the full benefits of virtualization”, said Pete Malcolm, Abiquo CEO. “Abiquo is the only solution that addresses all five of the top virtualization issues, dramatically improving utilization to realize cost savings, eliminating security and compliance concerns, substantially reducing the load on the IT organization, gaining visibility into virtual environments and eliminating vendor lock-in – all without any increase in risk.”

Learn more about the Abiquo Enterprise Edition and how it addresses the top 5 virtualization issues at www.abiquo.com.