Elastra's Policy-based Cloud Management: Bring on the Hybrid Clouds!

Elastra today unveiled an updated cloud strategy that aims to tackle one of the biggest challenges of cloud computing: How to move applications smoothly between in-house infrastructure and clouds like Amazon’s (s AMZN) EC2. If the strategy works, it could pave the way for so-called “hybrid clouds,” those that combine on-demand capacity with in-house compliance.

Elastra’s not the only one building a path to hybrid clouds. VMware (s VMW) this week announced a “private cloud” offering at VMWorld Europe that lets applications run both in-house and atop clouds, just as long as those cloud providers also use VMware. Others, like Enomaly, have been tackling the problem as well.

To build a hybrid cloud, you first need to bundle up all of the web servers, databases and configurations that make up the application — what Elastra calls a “deployment.” This deployment is portable, able to run in a cloud or in-house, because it defines not only the components but also how they interact and grow. Then you need to set rules as to where and how that deployment can run according to your specific security, capacity and business requirements. For example, a deployment that deals with credit cards might only be able to run on a PCI-compliant platform.

What’s been missing up until now is a way to fulfill the second part. With the launch of an open beta for the Elastra Enterprise Cloud Server 2.0, IT managers can set policies as to which applications can run where, such as:

  • Which capabilities, such as PCI compliance, a cloud must provide in order for a particular deployment to run.
  • How big or small the application can be.
  • How to marry a component (such as a JBoss server) to the available resources (such as a size of EC2 virtual machine.)
  • How to grow the deployment when certain events happen.

Stu Charlton, Elastra’s chief software architect, thinks early adopters of hybrid clouds will be enterprises migrating their applications into the cloud for development, testing, QA, and stress-testing, then bringing them back in-house for production.

In the end, infrastructure-agnostic application deployments like those built on Elastra, VMWares, and Enomaly help sever the umbilical cord that links legacy applications to their underlying infrastructure. With the addition of policy-based management, they become candidates for cloud deployments. Which is very good news for cloud providers.