I have not touched upon cloud computing for some time. I just came across a very interesting company in this space. Its name is ServiceMesh.
Mark Thiele, an expert in data center/cloud computing, mentioned this company. He was nice enough to introduce me to Dave Roberts, VP of marketing at ServiceMesh. Incidentally, I knew Dave a little bit when he was at a networking company in Silicon Valley. He moved from Silicon Valley to Austin, Texas, where most of ServiceMesh’s development team members reside. The meeting was conducted using a Web meeting service.
It took me a while before I could understand ServiceMesh’s business. They are a software company and provide professional services as well. In short, ServiceMesh helps large enterprise customers transition to an on-demand, everything as a service IT operating model. Their software product, Agility Platform, provides an end-to-end governance, workflow, policy management, and automation system for deploying applications in clouds. Their software reads in all the application information with their IT equipment information (CMDB if available), SLA, and security requirements, and spits out a report. The report contains feasibility information as to whether each application should be run in a cloud. If particular software requires very stringent response time, for example, it may not be suitable in a cloud environment. As shown in the following figure, ServiceMesh’s software can interface with a variety of different cloud service providers, including internal service providers building private clouds. ServiceMesh makes it easy for enterprises to use the right service provider for each application, subject to the specific SLA, security, and accountability requirements. Once the correct application stacks have been identified and built, ServiceMesh automates the deployment process, using cloud-provider APIs to start, stop, and manage application virtual machines in the target cloud.
The name of the software product is Agility Platform, and it consists of four major components:
- Agility Planner generates a report as to which applications are suitable for cloud computing and provides the basic configuration information to Factory.
- Agility Factory takes what was produced by Planner and allows a user to create a set of stacks suitable for each enterprise application. New stacks can be created from existing stacks already stored in CenterPoint.
- Agility CenterPoint stores stacks that have been verified and used before in that enterprise. It serves as a repository and collaboration point for stacks.
- Agility Manager deploys stacks into one or more cloud providers (including private clouds) and monitors them over time.
This is shown in the next picture.
In addition, ServiceMesh provides identity management, security by VPN, firewall, host intrusion detection, and antivirus.
Even though cloud computing is maturing, enterprises are still slow to adopt it. Major reasons given for that are the lack of security and SLA, vendor lock-in, and so on. I think ServiceMesh’s offerings are unique and interesting for a few reasons.
- They work with leading cloud computing providers to improve their services to suit an enterprise’s stringent requirements. This alone could be a major contribution.
- Cloud computing is totally new to most enterprises, and they do not know how to start with it. ServiceMesh provides them strategic advice on how to use it. The first thing to do is to inventory IT equipment and applications. Not all applications are suitable for a cloud environment, and this information alone is very useful to know.
- The Agility tool suite provides end-to-end governance and policy controls around the deployment of applications into the cloud. This helps IT keep control of key application and data assets and ensure that they comply with all legal, regulatory, and business rules while still accessing the benefits available with cloud computing.
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To target enterprises that are new to cloud computing, it is necessary to satisfy their needs and provide automation for ease of conversion. For the first point, ServiceMesh teams up with leading cloud providers to solve those concerns. For the second point, ServiceMesh’s automated tools help and accelerate the adoption. They seem to be signing up large enterprise customers rapidly. Of course, only time will tell how their business models work out.