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Cloud Computing and Virtualization

Joining us today is Scott Roza, CEO of Skytap, a company that provides cloud-based virtualization solutions as on-demand services over the Web.

DDJ: Scott, it seems there's something new every day in the virtualization and cloud computing arena. Where is it headed?

SR: The concept of cloud computing and how virtualization enables it offers so many innovation opportunities that it is not surprising there are new announcements every day. I think what customers need to do, however, is to not take announcements at face value, but instead dig into new product offerings to understand if something is really utilizing the full potential of virtualization and cloud computing. In many cases the collaboration, efficiency, high utilization, and productivity enabled by a combination of virtualization and cloud computing is not available because many firms are using fancy rebranding to create the appearance of innovation. I have seen many traditional providers make announcements over the last six months when in reality they are repackaging without the necessary innovation. In the end, innovation will win the hearts and minds of the customer, but today they need to work hard to separate the wheat from the chaff.

DDJ: What is "Infrastructure as a Service" (IaaS)?

SR: IaaS is the ability to provide computing resources -- processing power, network bandwidth, storage -- as a service. Some traditional hosting providers claim to have IaaS, but in reality they provision dedicated hardware to customers, put virtualization on top and call it IaaS. True IaaS offerings, however, are truly pay-as-you-go services that can be turned on and off at any time with almost no notice. When a provider has the ability to serve truly transient burst requirements, then they are capable of claiming they offer cloud-based, pay as you go IaaS.

DDJ A big trend in software development these days is collaboration. Does this overlap in any way with virtualization and cloud computing?

SR: Absolutely. At Skytap, we view a number of trends as creating a perfect storm for building and testing applications in the cloud. The trends include: 1) distributed development; 2) outsourced testing; 3) global test teams; 4) adoption of virtualization; 5) acceptance of SaaS delivery models; and 6) virtual machine sprawl. While these trends lend themselves to 24 hour development and rapid test feedback, they also lead to collaboration challenges, difficulty reproducing bugs in test environments, difficulty sharing virtual machine images, and slow VPN access to test labs. By using a cloud-based virtual test lab, browser-enabled role-based access creates seamless collaboration from anywhere in the world. All test and development teams share a common view of test platforms, test results, machine state at the instance of bug capture, and the ability to create simultaneous identical test stacks on demand.

DDJ: What are the challenge ahead for virtualization and cloud computing?

SR: The innovation will continue and there will be massive value created for customers over the next two to three years. However, the market may get overheated with hype and some customers will be over sold and become skeptical. The vision and potential of cloud-based virtualization is very real; but over the next 24 months there will be separation between those that truly deliver on the vision and those that just reposition the same way of doing business. As the separation occurs and leaders emerge, there will be consolidation and it will likely be lead by the biggest players such as Google, Amazon, VMWare, Citrix, Microsoft, HP, and IBM. Some of these big players will innovate -- Google, Amazon and VMWare are at the top of the list, some will quickly follow -- likely Citrix and Microsoft, and some will rely entirely on acquisition -- HP and IBM.

DDJIf readers want to find out more about these topics, is there a Web site you could point them to?

SR: Just as development and test organizations were the first to innovate with virtualization, we'll see those groups emerge as early adopters and leaders in cloud computing. For more information on how a truly on-demand, cloud-based virtual lab works readers can visit www.skytap.com.

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