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Zimory Plans a Marketplace for the Cloud

Cloud computing
To date, building a cloud computing infrastructure has been a relatively closed affair, with vendors offering their own respective services directly to prospective users.

A new service from Deutsche Telekom (NYSE: DT) spin-off Zimory, which launches officially on Monday, aims to change that paradigm with a new approach: opening up a cloud computing marketplace that matches buyers and sellers of distributed computing power.

The plan seeks to alter the way that enterprises look at cloud computing and their own underutilized computing assets. With Zimory's technology, businesses can turn underused resources into a cloud that's available for other internal purposes. Those cloud resources can also be resold through the Zimory Public Cloud.

"We want to enable large enterprises to participate very securely in the cloud computing business," Behrend Freese, Zimory's CEO, told InternetNews.com. "We are building technology for cloud computing with the underlying idea to do it as seamlessly as possible for existing virtualized infrastructures by providing technology that is an add-on to infrastructure."

The launch marks the latest effort to capitalize on burgeoning interest in cloud-based computing, which supporters say delivers greater flexibility and lower installation and maintenance costs than installed software requires. Zimory marks a new twist on cloud computing, however: Using its technology, an enterprise doesn't just avail itself to cloud computing resources within its walls -- it can monetize its own resources by reselling them externally.

At the heart of Zimory's cloud solution is open source code that powers both the development of Zimory and its client-side agent, which aggregates computing resources. The solution grabs existing enterprise infrastructure resources when they are not being used. Those resources are then aggregated and provided as a cloud service for other purposes -- either for an enterprise's internal use or for resale as part of the Zimory Public Cloud.

"This is an aggregation of different resources out of different virtualized datacenters and allows any kind of user, via a Web browser, to access resources and to jump between datacenters," Freese said. "The goal is to allow enterprise users to get additional resources when they need it on demand. That's what we do and we believe it's a very important technology for the future for companies to reduce infrastructure costs."

Zimory has been in a private, closed beta for the past several months according to Freese, who added that the firm currently counts a few hundred customers. He added that Zimory has been in discussion with datacenters around the globe about becoming a part of its public cloud, through which they would resell their compute resources.

Despite its aspirations, Freese does not see Zimory as being in competition with existing cloud vendors like Amazon EC2, Sun's Grid or IBM's Computing on Demand services.

"We see ourselves as a technology company that provides the software solution that enables companies to participate easily in the cloud environment," Freese said. "We don't compete with Amazon or IBM On Demand -- we'd rather see them as a potential partners of the public cloud. We want to help companies have a gateway to use the right resources to go into the cloud, and that's what we provide."

From a software point of view, open source is a critical factor for Zimory. Maximilian Ahrens, the company's CTO, explained that Zimory can integrate on different levels according to the situation in a customer's datacenter. Its solution relies heavily on virtualization, so if there is no existing virtualization management infrastructure in place, Zimory can deploy its Zimory Agent on every host.

[cob:Special_Report]"This software is completely open source," Ahrens told InternetNews.com. "Zimory Agent is Python-based and has a small footprint."

Zimory Agent also utilizes a number of other key open source components, including the libvirt virtualization manager and the KVM and Xen hypervisors.

The Zimory Manager resides in each datacenter for local management. That piece of software hinges on a Google Web Toolkit (GWT)-based user interface that enables a datacenter manager to steer their cloud -- either offering it to their own enterprise or to the public cloud.

According to Ahrens, Zimory could not have been built without open source. But a basis in open source also helps to grow use of the public cloud itself, he added.

"The Zimory Agent needs to be widely distributed, as many organization that run the open source hypervisors do not have sophisticated management frameworks," Ahrens said. "Therefore, it is key for us that we can distribute our Agent through the open source community."