Elastra Looks to Bridge Public, Private Clouds

Elastra is rolling out the public beta of its Elastra Server Cloud 2.0, which company officials see as the broker between public compute clouds, such as those created using Amazon's EC2 platform, and private cloud environments built on virtualization technology from vendors such as VMware. Elastra officials say such hybrid clouds will give enterprises the agility offered in cloud computing with in-house policies and controls.

Elastra is taking the next step in building up its cloud computing businesses by putting the next generation of its platform into beta.

Company officials, who eight months ago unveiled the first version of their Elastra Cloud Server, on Feb. 25 rolled out the open beta version of Elastra Cloud Server 2.0.

They also opened up more on their vision for policy-based cloud computing, a strategy that involves enabling businesses to move their applications back and forth between private clouds developed in-house using virtualization technology and public clouds, such as those created using Amazon's EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) platform.

The goal is to create what Stuart Charlton, acting vice president of product management at Elastra, calls "hybrid clouds," an environment that offers the compute capacity of public clouds with the controls of private clouds.

Currently cloud computing primarily entails businesses buying compute resources-from servers to storage to networking-from a provider, which in turn hosts the businesses' applications on the infrastructure.

What Elastra wants to do is marry those capabilities with what is currently run in-house, from the designs and configurations of the application to the policies and rules that determine how those applications are run, per the clients' business requirements and security needs, the configurations set up by the clients and the workflow rules for the applications, Charlton said.

Get those in place, and businesses can create an environment where some work is done in the public cloud, other work is done in a private cloud, and the Elastra Cloud Server acts a broker between the two, said Ariane Lindblom, vice president of marketing at Elastra.

"You get the agility of the cloud and the control" of an in-house environment, Charlton said.

He said businesses can use the public cloud for developing and testing applications, which then can be ported to the private in-house cloud for deployment in a production environment, with the Elastra Cloud Server acting as the bridge between the two.

The company is expected to announce the general availability of its technology in the spring. Elastra already has attracted the attention of some big players in the cloud computing field, including Amazon, which was among a group of companies that invested $12 million in Elastra last year.

In addition, it is working closely with VMware in the development of its strategy. Elastra officials said VMware technology is its platform of choice for creating in-house private compute clouds.

For its part, VMware officials also are talking about helping businesses create in-house private clouds that can be extended to public cloud environments. CEO Paul Maritz broached the subject at the company's VMworld show in September, and again Feb. 24 at the VMworld Europe event in France.

That included the introduction of the VDC-OS (virtual data center operating system), the VMware vClient Initiative for desktops and the VMware vCloud Initiative, which is a strategy for creating links between public and private clouds.