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Enterprise-grade private cloud computing could take a big step forward with the introduction of Platform Computing’s new cloud management software, Platform ISF. The casual IT follower might never have heard of Platform, but for the better part of 20 years, the company has been proving the worth of its grid and cluster management solutions inside some of the world’s most demanding companies. Platform’s public customers include major banks like Citigroup and JPMorgan Chase, manufacturing giants like Pratt & Whitney and Airbus, and IT blue-chippers HP and AMD. If Platform is able to spur cloud adoption among large organizations and establish itself as a cloud computing leader, its reputation will play a vital role in the process.
With ISF, the company is targeting medium- and large-sized businesses, and, according to founder and CEO Songnian Zhou, it already has a “substantial number” of large companies signed up for beta testing and expected to go into production. When asked why Platform doesn’t appear to be struggling for customers like so many other cloud vendors, Zhou summed it up thusly: “This is really not a startup game, pure and simple. A startup is supposed to get some good VC money and develop a point product to solve a real, focused problem. This is data center integration in enterprises. [It is] very complex [with] many, many moving parts.”
Of course, Platform is no IT behemoth, which also could work in its favor. While they might consist of useful pieces, cloud offerings from companies like IBM, Microsoft and HP can be difficult to grasp. They can involve an array of systems management tools, servers and other products that leave customers dizzy — and potentially locked in. “They’re all piecemeal,” Zhou joked. “Sometimes they look like a cluster bomb.”
ISF, on the other hand, is one solution — an extensible framework consisting of Platform’s Enterprise Grid Orchestrator and Virtual Machine Orchestrator products, enhanced by cloud-optimized resource integration, allocation and service delivery capabilities. Almost entirely technology- and process-agnostic, users can maintain the status quo across the board, from hypervisor to applications to security protocol. Whereas Amazon EC2 represents a cafeteria where you know what you can order, Zhou analogizes, ISF lets businesses build their own cafeterias and serve the food they want how they need it. (Not that he is dissing Amazon outright: The ability to cloudburst from ISF environments to EC2 already is being developed.)
Actually, it is in a public cloud situation where Platform’s large-enterprise reputation is on display. While Platform ISF is designed for private cloud environments, SingTel already is using ISF to power its Alatum cloud computing service. That’s a lot of faith to put in a product that will only be entering beta mode at the end of this month, but Platform already helped Singapore develop its national grid infrastructure.
This HPC-centric reputation could prove a con if Platform were targeting distributed system newbies, but clearly these companies are not the targets. In its large enterprise sweetspot, Platform’s reputation appears to have preceded it.