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DevOpsJournal: Article

Forget Managing Each VM; Single Image’s the Ticket

CloudVolumes began rolling out its single-image management widgetry for servers, desktops and the cloud

CloudVolumes started out a couple of years ago as SnapVolumes and shed its stealth cocoon in November when it announced $2.3 million in seed financing and began beta testing its enterprise-class Instant Workload Management (IWM) solution to what IDC has dubbed the "virtualization management gap."

CloudVolumes began because, like IDC, it reckoned there was no way to manage the virtual sprawl that's being created with the processes and tools that are in place. The traditional tools that managed applications in the world of physical servers and desktops aren't suited to virtual environments.

IDC has even imagined the virtualization and cloud markets stalling and people dialing back while they wait for or seek management solutions.

Then there's the little matter of the price of managing the virtualized infrastructure soaring through the roof. Currently it costs more than servers, power and cooling put together.

Growing at an unprecedented rate, the virtualization management gap is seen claiming in excess of $100 billion as opex costs increase proportional to the total number of VMs.

To address these issues, the start-up Tuesday began rolling out its single-image management widgetry for servers, desktops and the cloud. It's supposed to reduce the complexity and increase the efficiency of data center and cloud environments by eliminating per-VM management.

The company says, "IT is still managing, migrating and installing apps one-at-a-time in VMs as if they were physical machines. In today's virtual world, workloads shouldn't be locked into a given hypervisor or cloud. We created Instant Workload Management solutions to virtualize everything above the OS to allow the industry to simply think in terms of what they care about most - workloads."

CloudVolumes' patent-pending technology virtualizes everything above the operating system including legacy applications, middleware, settings, dependencies, data, files and configuration licenses and sticks the whole megillah in a single virtual machine.

This approach leaves only one copy of the application to be shared across thousands of cloud-based desktops or servers, eliminating per-VM installs, uninstalls, patches and upgrades.

According to CloudVolumes, that means existing software doesn't have to be rewritten or re-architected.

Servers don't have to be dedicated to specific workloads anymore and can be managed as a generic pool, which means they can be dynamically provisioned in seconds, offering instant availability and elastic scaling at a dramatic reduction in resources since the widgetry minimizes the use of storage, CPU, IOPs and the network.

IT can reconfigure and update existing servers for new tasks on-demand with no downtime, even for custom apps and complex multi-tier services.

Companies can move their workloads to the best available resources in the data center or cloud without worrying about the underlying infrastructure. CloudVolumes IWM solution requires no changes to existing infrastructure, OS, hypervisor, application, licensing, policy or infrastructure.

Complex multi-tier server workloads can be instantly deployed into a running VM; scaled, relocated and recovered instantly across thousands of virtual machines in seconds; and workloads can migrate between the cloud and data center, independent of VM or hypervisor.

That means enterprises can dynamically scale and move to the cloud - in hybrid fashion - as demand increases without the costly conversion and migration of VMs. They can focus on moving workloads, without moving any VMs.

CloudVolumes includes a desktop solution that supports Microsoft RDS and Citrix XenApp.

It provides a persistent desktop feel with non-persistent pools, while having a single point of administration and control for all applications. IT costs are reduced with 1:N storage compression and storage tiering.

Users are supposed to experience native performance - not to mention personalization - that can be enhanced by "virtually sharing single SSD-enabling" storage across all VMs without recreating VMs or packaging, streaming or modifying the app.

It's supposed to deliver 50 applications instantly to a hosted virtual desktop and support all Windows desktop and server apps including custom ones.

Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) providers should be able to provide fully installed applications on-demand allowing users to practically manage themselves.

The company says CloudVolumes is fully automated, secure and easy-to-use; works with existing policies and management solutions; and fits seamlessly with all clouds, hypervisors, operating systems and apps. It also integrates with VMware's vFabric AppDirector.

VMware customers can instantly deploy blueprints and manage and update apps once across thousands of provisioned virtual machines. The services are available at VMware's Cloud Applications Marketplace.

CloudVolumes is also Citrix Ready-certified for XenApp and XenDesktop, as well as Cisco UCS-compatible.

CloudVolumes was founded by virtualization, Windows kernel and security experts, Matthew Conover, CTO; Shaun Coleman, VP of product marketing; and Matthieu Suiche, chief scientist.

It's led by CEO Raj Parekh, former CEO of Virident and former CTO, head of engineering and general manager of Java products at Sun Microsystems. He also co-founded SGI.

The outfit has drawn talent from VMware, Citrix, EMC, Symantec, Microsoft and Trend Micro.

Its board includes Henrik Rosendahl, serial entrepreneur and CEO of Thinstall (acquired by VMware in 2008); Klaus Oestermann, head of cloud networking at Citrix; and Prashant Shah, former managing director at Hummer Winblad Venture Partners.

The start-up got its angel round from TiE Angels of Silicon Valley, the founder and former CTO of Brocade Kumar Malavalli, SVP of technology at SAP Labs Sanjog Gad, the CEO of Infoblox Rob Thomas and executives from Symantec, EMC, Citrix and Tibco.

Simon Bramfitt, founder and principal analyst with Entelechy Associates, has called the CloudVolumes technology the "closest thing to magic I've ever seen" and thinks it could fundamentally change the way enterprise desktop, server and cloud platforms are managed based on the agent it installs in every virtual machine and physical resource.

The start-up's Desktop, Server and integrated support for AppDirector are currently available on a 30-day free trial for DevOps and production deployments but you have to be qualified to check the stuff out.

Given the size of the opportunity and the urgent needs of customers, CloudVolumes means to form key partnerships with OEMs and services providers. It will also sell directly to CIOs. The companies, including financial houses that beta tested the software, have embarked on proofs of concept.

Parekh figures the cost of CloudVolumes won't be prohibitive and that customers will see a return on investment in three months. Otherwise he won't talk pricing.

Cory Merritt, president, Sage Infrastructure Solutions Group, says, "The CloudVolumes product is truly a differentiator in the industry by allowing users to change the way IT provisions applications to specific workgroups or change the personality of a server build to rapidly provision workloads such as an SQL server or Citrix Server. Instead of spending hours building unique server and virtual desktop workloads, we are able to simply assign the right AppStack to the given server or application workgroup. At Sage, we have leveraged CloudVolumes to take a base Windows Server 2008 R2 build, and by applying the appropriate AppStack, turned the base server into a SQL Server with a simple reboot."

See demos at http://vimeo.com/65604027; http://vimeo.com/65624256; http://vimeo.com/65620067 and https://solutionexchange.vmware.com/store/category_groups/application-management.

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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