RealTime IT News

Platform Providers Claim Cloud Advantage

There's an astonishing quantity of cloud computing-related news this week, but some companies feel they can stand out from the crowd by offering platforms as well.

For example, Platform Computing is today announcing the release of Platform ISF, a private cloud management system that combines reporting, self-service, provisioning, and delivery of servers and connectors with all existing enterprise software.

"This is the most comprehensive end to end private cloud offering I know of," Songnian Zhou, CEO of Platform Computing, told InternetNews.com. "I have been working in the computing management business for 17 years, focusing on data intensive applications," he added.

The product is designed to work with any operating system, virtualization management system, security provisioning system, directory system, reporting and billing system, data management system, management console, and even with custom applications, he added.

"Platform ISF enables applications to run on shared infrastructure driving the higher utilization rates and accordingly the highest ROI across clusters, grids and clouds," he said in a statement.

Zhou said that he sees ISF as reversing what VMware does. Where VMware takes one server and turns it into many, ISF takes many servers and turns them into a single resource pool. It then allocates resources according to company policies and delivers services while also tracking them for both performance and compliance audits.

"Amazon EC2 has no policies. It's like McDonald's where you pay and they give it to you," he said. "We all know what happens if you do that every day for a month."

Zhou advised IT managers to start with a private cloud and not rely on vendors to bridge the public cloud and enterprise servers. "They're not selling you a hotel here or a playground there but they'll give you a bridge. Wow. Thanks," he said.

The only thing worse than one public cloud is two public clouds, he added. "There's nothing worse than heterogeneous clouds co-existing. It increases cost and complexity, reduces service transparency, and brings a very bad reputation to cloud computing -- cloud computing needs a good reputation at this moment," he said.

Zhou advised customers to adopt the cloud gradually. "Take it on a road test around the neighborhood, then on the highway but only for one exit," he said. "Start on an application in one location or one line of business. The cloud was not built in a day. You cannot buy a new home from anyone that has your kids' photos in it and the exact color of your wall. It's your home."

ISF is in beta today and pricing is expected to be $995 per node, "but if someone brings a supercomputer to us and says that's one node, we may have to talk," said Zhou. The product release is planned for Fall, 2009.

Zhou claimed that competing products sell for $2,000 to $3,000 per node.

Regulatory help with SpringCM

Dan Carmel, CEO of SpringCM, said that selling one system to solve all of a company's document management needs has been a big success, and that the company's ecosystem is growing rapidly with a steady flow of new native applications designed by integrators, by the company, and by customers.

"With all due respect, our platform delivers more value than Force.com, though I'm sure that [Salesforce CEO Mark] Benioff would disagree," Carmel told InternetNews.com.

As is the case with Platform Computing's ICF, SpringCM's platform promises management, provisioning, monitoring, and self service. Carmel said that the company is particularly successful in several heavily regulated industries that process a large volume of paper including schools, government contractors, and telecommunications.

"When the auditor comes in and says, 'bring me the papers' and the government contractor has it all automated, that delivers a very good first impression," Carmel said.

He claimed that consultants like CSC and Deloitte were able to double the rate they filed proposals to the government and increase contract win rates without increasing head count.

He said that analysts' surveys have shown that customers know they can gain functionality from SaaS that's not available in licensed software while also reducing costs and increasing agility -- the ability to provision new applications.

He added that when the company adds a new feature, it can amortize the cost over its customer base. Advanced business process management (BPM) features cost $30 per user per month. Complex markup capabilities such as watermarking and CAD editing cost $15 per user per month. The base product itself costs $50 per user per month.

SpringCM is integrated with Salesforce.com and with Microsoft's SharePoint, he said, and claimed that developers are building applications on his company's platform.

Update corrects that ISF is in beta today.