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Software Vendors Anticipate Cloud Challenges

In the run-up to the VMworld conference next week, some companies are addressing fundamental private cloud problems with basic virtualization controls.

rPath will be showing off an application deployment engine that can streamline the development process and generate images for any environment, from the traditional server to the public cloud to the private cloud hypervisor .

Another company, Xangati, will be demonstrating a deceptively simple visualization application that helps managers monitor cloud usage and helps users report problems.

Companies are examining cloud and virtualization technologies because they promise to save money -- an attractive feature in these budget-constrained times. Along with plenty of hype from vendors, there's skepticism too. Many have long argued that virtualization can do more harm than good, in part because of a dearth of virtualization management tools.

Expect to see just such virtualization management tools at the VMworld conference.

Application development and deployment

rPath is transitioning from a provider of development tools to ISVs to providing those tools to a larger pool of customers: any business that writes its own applications.

"We have a different value proposition, but the same technology," Jake Sorofman, rPath vice president of marketing, told InternetNews.com. "We take the human labor cost and risk out of [application development]. We're calling this 'release automation.'"

"rPath is like an application factory," Sorofman added. "We consume application artifacts, either as raw binaries or raw source code. We take those applications and analyze them: what software does the application require to run, what OS components, middleware, tooling, etc."

rPath will also be showing its 'Project Javelin' at VMworld. The new, comprehensive offering is designed to solve other issues in application development. Where the basic rPath product handles software installation, Javelin handles services and other complex interactions.

"The reality is that applications are deployed as groups of logical systems representing a logical business service," said Sorofman. "If an app depends on a database server, a Web server, and an application server, you could update one of them and break the other two."

Javelin also tracks configuration data. "It captures little differences like what SAN a virtual machine is connected to or what IP address it is using," Shawn Edmondson, rPath director of product management, told InternetNews.com.

When development is complete, Javelin enables self-service deployment and maintenance. "It enables IT to decentralize the function of provisioning and maintaining a service without sacrificing policy controls," said Sorofman.

Sorofman added that rPath complements enterprise provisioning software from the major providers, such as CA.

The complete rPath suite is designed to deliver to both virtualized and traditional environments. "We see enterprises adopting a blended combination of physical, virtualized, and cloud environments," said Sorofman.

"We take the pain out of writing for all three environments," he added. "One line of business might put an app on a VMware cluster, another might put it on physical servers. We can generate a .iso image for the physical server, an image for VMware, or an Amazon Machine Image (AMI) for Amazon's cloud."

rPath pricing was not disclosed.

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