Beyond Virtualization

Wednesday we had an excellent discussion with Cheryl Doninger, R&D Director at SAS and William Fellows, Principal Analyst at the 451 Group about the benefits of getting beyond virtualization.

Cheryl presented 4 use cases on where private cloud management can improve the end-user experience while reducing costs. The cases included: test/dev, IT operations, SAS customer deployments and SAS on-demand hosting.

Wil discussed why organizations are looking beyond VM management in considering private clouds and gave several financial services customer examples as he characterized the state of the market.

I discussed how Platform ISF is being used for enterprise and HPC applications respectively through two case examples.

You can view the presentations and discussion at:

Where will the push for cloud come from?

I recently had an interesting email discussion with a couple of my fellow colleagues here at Platform as well as Randy Bias, the CEO of CloudScaling, about what we think will be some of the primary drivers for private clouds in the enterprise. Not surprisingly, we predict that within many organizations the push to adopt cloud resources will split along departmental lines between business users and the IT department. Although buy-in from both sides of the organization will be necessary to make clouds successful, we believe that it will ultimately be the users—consumers of the cloud, if you will—that will drive its success. Here’s why…

Cloud computing is ultimately a business model change, not a technology change. It’s a huge shift in how IT departments are meant to operate—by giving users “self-service” IT and the ability to choose what resources they need and when they need them. In effect, private clouds are meant to decentralize the power of the IT department without taking away their control of the department’s overall resources and budget. Ideally, a cloud infrastructure should help IT departments have greater control over the resources they purchase and deploy and provide for greater reuse of IT resources across the board. It should also give users the power to access those resources when needed.

In many organizations the IT department and business departments function separately or, sometimes, even at cross purposes. The IT department is often perceived as being too slow and cumbersome to get things done—and with many departments being forced to function with lesser budgets these days, this is often true—they’re too busy and don’t have the resources necessary to make the kind of changes necessary to implement cloud infrastructures. Business users, on the other hand, tend to have more urgency around the projects they’re working on and usually are the ones within the organization pushing the envelope to get things done and driving the kind of business agility and speed that cloud computing offers.

I’ve observed this happening already with public cloud use. When business users perceive their IT departments to be a roadblock to getting their work done, a user will just pull out a credit card, buy some compute or storage time and charge it on their expense report—never to be seen by the IT department. Users get access to what they need in minutes, not weeks, and they don’t need to wade through a request system and queue to get it.

Of course, I’m not advocating that business users “go rogue” and skirt their IT departments to get things done – a lot of harm can result from this, both politically and from an infrastructure standpoint. But business- and action-driven needs may ultimately trump the old-ways of IT provisioning where IT doles out usage without user access. As private clouds continue to evolve, it may be that IT purchases and builds the private cloud, but the consumers of the cloud will determine its success.

We’re currently working on a whitepaper that addresses all these issues along with both the hard and soft ROI that such a model will deliver to both business and IT. Look for more on the ROI factor to come in the whitepaper and in this blog soon.

-Phil Morris, CTO of the HPC BU, Platform Computing

The Private Cloud - Beyond Virtualization Webcast

I’ve spoken to several of our Platform customers and prospects that are either planning on building a private cloud or are in the early deployment phases and noticed that certain questions and concerns repeatedly come up about the role of virtualization in private clouds. The questions that come up most frequently include thing such as:”Is virtualization necessary for the cloud? How can I integrate my physical and virtual machines in the cloud? Can I deploy a cloud using just virtualization?”

As a result of my customer conversations, we’ve put together a webinar to discuss these issues. We’ve gathered William Fellows, Principal Analyst with The 451 Group and Cheryl Doninger, R&D Director at SAS Institute, for a panel discussion titled “The Private Cloud – Beyond Virtualization” to address these questions and concerns. William will provide an analyst perspective on the key elements and methodologies that need to be considered when deploying private clouds and Cheryl will discuss the SAS Institute’s implementation of a private cloud and how Platform ISF helps SAS’ R&D department to bring new products to market faster and more cost effectively.

Please join me on Wednesday, December 16 at 11:00 a.m. Eastern for an in-depth look at why virtualization is just the first step in deploying a private cloud, what the specific deployment stages are and how organizations can benefit from the increased efficiency and reduced costs of private clouds.

To register, please visit:

Insights from the Gartner Data Center Conference

I wanted to share some key thoughts from the recently completed Gartner Data Center conference. I had the chance to attend many of the sessions focused on cloud computing, and had several 1:1 sessions with the leading Gartner analysts covering Virtualization, Cloud, and Automation. It is difficult to boil down 4 very long days of sessions, meetings and discussions, but I wanted to share four key points that really caught my eye.
  1. Cloud moved from 14th in 2009 to 2nd in terms of CIO priorities based on a Gartner survey. This is an amazing change in a short time period and speaks to the increased interest and focus that many organizations have on cloud. (My guess is few IT technologies or concepts have moved this far this fast.) This rapid acceleration in interest is consistent with the increased activity we see with our customers, looking to determine their overall cloud strategy, while looking for immediate opportunities to get started and get moving. Organizations need to start now on their cloud strategies..while also keeping an eye on the longer term architectural impacts and choices.
  2. Business Intelligence is moving from rear view to a forward looking focus: (from Carl Claunch Keynote). This shift to more analytics and more proactive analysis indicates an increasing need for organizations to “out compute” their competitors to accelerate the pace of their business. We continue to see this as many organizations increase the size of their HPC/Grid environments..and look to a private cloud model to enable their users to tap into the compute capacity that lies dormant and underutilized within their organizations.
  3. A Caution: 1/3 of startups in the management space disappear every 2 years (from Cloud Management Session). As CIO’s look to their emerging #2 priority (see point #1) it is very important they consider who and what type of companies they partner with to enable the evolution from siloed to shared cloud infrastructure. A balance between innovation and the ability of these software partners to deliver over the long haul is key for a large enterprise to consider.
  4. DISA Private Cloud End User session: ¾ of the Battle in Building a private cloud is Cultural. We have seen this time and time again over our 15+ year history as our HPC and Grid customer base has evolved and adopted their large scale shared compute environments. Many organizations have deployed and adopted key technology components that enable them to build an automated, virtualized, cloud infrastructure. What they have struggled with is the political/cultural side of sharing, getting their end users and business unit customers, comfortable with a dynamic shared infrastructure. Our experience in helping customers make this journey is clearly relevant to helping enterprise users make a similar journey into the cloud.

Overall another very good Gartner event clearly indicating the increased interest and importance large enterprise organizations are placing on defining their cloud strategy and the issues/challenges they face on their road to building their next generation IT infrastructure in a cloud model.

SC09 Wrap-up

Economic difficulties aside, the annual SuperComputing conference, now in its 22nd year, somehow defies the odds! SC09 in Portland, Oregon set an attendance record this year – roughly 10,000 attendees and 318 exhibitors hailing from 71 countries and all 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. In addition to physical size, the SC conference continues to grow steadily in terms of market impact each year as well. SC09 was no exception. The conference featured some of the most interesting and innovative HPC scientific and technical breakthroughs from around the world.


For many of us working at Platform, the SC conference always has the familiar feel of a second home. The show formed the perfect backdrop for Platform Computing to showcase its new corporate brand identity. The new look and feel also gave a tangible boost to the level interest in the company's offerings and booth traffic from show attendees remained heavy throughout the event. No SC event can be complete without a party, and this year was no exception, our 5th Annual party was held at Rock Bottom Brewery, with over 600 attending and enjoying, great beer, food, prizes and live entertainment.


Just a few days before SC09, we announced the general availability of Platform ISF, our dynamic IT solution for enterprises to build and run their private clouds. Try it free for 30 days This is the solution Forrester Principal Analyst James Staten called: "the most complete internal cloud software solution we’ve seen so far.” Despite all the cloud hype, there's little doubt the market for building and managing private or internal clouds will grow to be quite large, eventually exceeding the market for HPC. Also announced was our new cluster management solution, Platform ISF Adaptive Cluster a product that dynamically changes the operating systems and personalities of compute nodes managed by Platform LSF through our new HPC portal, And finally our industry-leading workload management solution for HPC environments Platform LSF 7 Update 6 is now available


SC09 conference is all about high-performance computing -- and Platform Computing is the recognized leader in HPC management solutions. We were reminded of this fact at SC09 by our friends at Intel, who recognized Platform with an Intel Cluster Ready Pioneer Award. The name of the award is both a nod the Oregon Trail and SC09's return to Portland as well as formal recognition of Platform's early commitment to removing the risk and complexity out of buying HPC clusters. Thank you, Intel. We're honored to be a part of such a forward-thinking, customer-centric program as Intel Cluster Ready.