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As apps move to the cloud, next up is optimizing them

Startup Appcara takes server-template model out of application lifecycle management

By , Network World
June 11, 2012 01:04 PM ET

Network World - As enterprises continue to open up to the idea of hosting applications in the cloud, a slew of companies are looking to optimize how they're managed in the new cloud environment.

Experts say cloud application management could be an area ripe for further innovation. Cloud users want to more easily be able to move legacy applications to the cloud or be able to transfer applications from one cloud provider to another. A Silicon Valley startup named Appcara is hoping its tools, which migrate away from a server-template model and toward an application-database setup, are one way for easier application lifecycle management.

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Traditionally cloud applications -- including anything from software-as-a-service enterprise resource management tools (SaaS-based ERP) to applications that run entire data centers -- use server-template technology to configure the underlying compute hardware to run the application. The problem with that approach, says Appcara founder and CEO John Yung, is that applications are inevitably dynamic and the resources they require change. Creating new server template models for each new iteration of an application is time-consuming and prone to human error.

Appcara instead uses a database approach to managing cloud applications. Appcara's cloud-based software creates an application layer above either public or private clouds to capture information about what the application needs to run on the server. Specific application needs related to the components, configurations and dependencies and any changes of those are stored in real-time and automatically updated to a database. When changes are made to the application's resource needs, the database is updated automatically, allowing the application to configure the hardware that's needed on its own. Doing so eliminates the need for new server templates to be created, and removes the step of manual configuration of servers for application deployments.

So far it's worked for American Internet Services (AIS), a San Diego cloud service provider that focuses on cloud offerings in Southern California and specifically for life sciences companies. AIS is one of Appcara's earliest commercial deployments and CTO Steve Wallace says he was looking for a way to more efficiently manage the large number of applications the service provider hosts for clients.

"You may not realize the true potential of this until you really try to scale up," he says. The traditional server-template model, he says, requires manual configuration of the hardware to the specifications of the application. "If you're working with 80 Web servers that all need to be configured, you're talking about not only a time-consuming, error-prone process," he says. AIS is using the Appcara platform to manage its applications that run its cloud offering and those for customers.

Appcara announced last week it would be releasing the second version of its software, AppStack 2, in July, which will incorporate a marketplace where dozens of applications will already be pre-configured for use in the Appcara software. Other applications can be integrated to work on the software as well.

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