RackWare doesn’t see the cloud as another silo or a replacement of a company’s local environment, per se, but as an additional resource that enables them to do more with their existing infrastructures. The product is a management solution that lets an enterprise “cloudify” local servers, building a bridge to the cloud and making it an extension of their on-site data center. RackWare is used by hundreds of customers to support workload migration to, from and between clouds and to enable functions like scaling, migration and disaster recovery (DR), for which the company recently announced a new solution.
RackWare’s software performs discovery and analysis of the local environment; the hardware, the software and the dependencies that exist in the infrastructure. They can also run their monitoring tools to understand application performance requirements, CPU and storage resource utilization levels to create a clear picture of the workload and suggest optimal placement in a particular cloud. With this data they can then define all the components of the application stack, to make a workload totally portable so that it can be run anywhere, including physical, virtual, public and private clouds. And they can do all this without requiring companies to rewrite or rebuild their application stacks to a specific cloud vendor’s operating system or environment.
With RackWare, physical or virtual workloads can be migrated to the cloud to address a number of IT requirements. They can use the cloud as a temporary scaling mechanism, to automatically support fluctuations in compute demand by migrating workloads to the cloud based on seasonal business models, current promotions, even spiking web traffic, etc. The converse is also true: when compute demand shrinks, RackWare can park workloads that are no longer needed to save on costs.
Companies can also use the cloud to support workload migration as part of a data center consolidation after an acquisition, or to facilitate a data center expansion or support a data center move. They can use RackWare’s discovery function to develop the migration plans before anything is changed and then to actually move workloads to the new data center using the cloud as a ‘staging area’.
These use cases leverage RackWare’s ability to make workloads portable and to make infrastructure essentially elastic, by creating a cloud-based extension. But perhaps the biggest use case for the cloud is business continuity. RackWare recently announced the third generation of their product introducing disaster recovery (DR) functionality that lets companies set up a DR capability using the cloud.
RackWare Management Module (RMM) 3.0 provides anywhere-to-anywhere disaster recovery protection, for physical or virtual servers, in the data center or in the cloud. RackWare discovers hosts, bare-metal or VMs running on ESX, KVM or XenServer. They perform a live capture of the workloads, recording the metadata, snapshotting the image and saving them to a ‘container’ for migration to the cloud. Then they migrate this “Primary Image” to the cloud and maintain it based on a sync policy that replicates changes between locations. RackWare also provides end-to-end failover and failback, based on policies that can be set by the administrator.
This ‘container-based DR’ provides automated disaster recovery protection for physical or virtual infrastructures, to either public or private clouds. It also includes the ability to easily test the DR system as well. RackWare currently supports Amazon Web Services, Savvis, Sungard, IBM Softlayer, Rackspace, VMware, Cloudstack and Openstack.
The cloud is a wonderful innovation, one that can solve some real business problems and make a number of existing IT processes work better and cost less. But cloud adoption in the enterprise has been lagging, to some extent, as companies struggle to get past the challenges of cloud implementation. Actually getting a solution up and running can be the hardest part of adopting a new technology.
This is one of those “last mile” problems, a term coined by the utility industry to mean the cost and complexity of bringing service that last mile from the main lines to the user’s house. RackWare is a truly enabling technology as it solves the last mile problem and makes cloud-based services completely available to the enterprise. In fact, it goes beyond implementation and makes running in the cloud feasible, even temporarily. This allows companies to ‘rent’ cloud capacity, driving a number of additional use cases.