In the 1960s, the first time-sharing IBM mainframes enabled scheduled one-at-a-time access to big-system computing. Later, application service providers and grid-computing systems allowed many more users online at the same time. Now, cloud systems using the multi-tenant distribution model to millions of users are commonplace.
Next up? Multi-cloud management. This is the latest step in a natural progression built on all of the above.
Upstart IT cloud system automation provider GreenButton, aiming at a promising future market, on Nov. 6 announced at the Cloud Computing Expo conference the launch of its GreenButton Cloud Fabric, which CEO Scott Houston described to eWEEK as the "industry's first server solution that enables users running compute-intensive applications to deploy, manage and run a variety of applications in either private or public clouds—or both."
Unlimited Computing Power From Cloud Resources
Cloud Fabric offers an integrated, on-demand cloud-service distribution system that gives users basically unlimited processing power from the cloud (using one or more of the major cloud-service providers, such as Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), Microsoft Azure, Dell vCloud and OpenStack) for high-performance computing workloads.
Users can mix or match which clouds from which they want to draw computing power, or they can add in their own on-premises system to get the work done. Options abound here.
These workloads can be high-end analytics, scientific research projects, video and other compute-intensive projects.
A major difference here, Houston said, is that this system costs much less to use than a private cloud, or even a hybrid cloud. Subscribers pay on a sliding scale; they can use the GreenButton controls to obtain faster or slower results, depending upon their time frame and budget.
"We actually provide a slider that lets the user fine-tune exactly how he or she wants to have the job completed," Houston said. "If you need the results faster, slide it up the scale, and you get more computing cores to do the job. If you don't need the job until tomorrow or a couple of days from now, slide it down. You pay less that way but still get the job done."
Prior to starting up GreenButton (which is a play on the red "Easy Button" image of Staples fame), Houston was the CTO of a New Zealand-based video production company that rendered Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" movie series. Talk about big-data-type projects; 3D movies like those consist of enormous-sized files and can total up to 200 terabytes of data.
Most 3D films run about 90 minutes long, move at 24 frames per second and require roughly 120,000 handcrafted frames per movie. As many as 20 to 50 people may work on each frame at one time or another. Some studios use up to 17,000 cores in the rendering process, depending on how fast the workload needs to be completed.
Born From the 3D Film Industry
"These were really big projects, and we manually had to provision everything, and I thought: 'There's a real opportunity here to automate the entire process,'" Houston said. "That's where my idea of the GreenButton was born, because I realized there were only a small number of applications that could process that kind of capacity. The idea is to provide a drop-down menu that automatically provisions the job for the cloud."
Cloud Fabric can provide primary or supplementary processing power in the cloud. The platform features multi-cloud management with a single toolset, known as Mission Control, and a software developer kit that includes REST and SOAP APIs and a development emulator for enabling various workloads, Houston said.
Mission Control includes commercial functions for billing, reporting with organizational control and chargeback to various departments. The platform also includes data-synchronization tools for the cloud called GreenButton CloudSync.
"We believe the future of cloud computing is to bring the applications that most people have said 'will never run in the cloud' to the cloud," Houston said. "We're seeing exceptional growth and adoption across our cloud offerings. We feel it's about choice."