RightScale promises a move beyond 'lowest common denominator' cloud management

RightScale was one of the earliest of the cloud management vendors, but has been a little quiet of late. The company is hoping to change things today with its latest release.

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Thorsten von Eicken, the co-founder of RightScale, released the first version of software from the yet-to-be-incorporated company back in the dark ages of the cloud. While only nine years ago, 2006 was incredibly early, long before Amazon Web Services was a household name and before companies like Microsoft, IBM, and Rackspace had discovered the cloudy drug. Von Eickens thesis was that organizations would need a management platform upon which to deploy and manage applications running on the (at that time) beta version of Amazon's EC2 cloud computing offering. Only a few months after EC2 had been unveiled and a prescient von Eicken got to work on the nascent field of cloud management.

Fast forward nearly a decade and it is almost universally accepted that the cloud will play some part in the IT makeup of modern companies. Alongside this recognition, there is a growing awareness that management of an organization's infrastructure will increasingly become a more complex task as enterprises' IT footprints become ever more heterogeneous. RightScale is meeting this need with a new take on its product today that it hopes will go beyond single cloud management.

The company is announcing cloud service plugins that are designed to extend the RightScale platform in order to enable it to orchestrate any cloud service that has its own API. The beauty of this is that, alongside the out-of-the-box integrations with household names such as AWS, Azure, Google, SoftLayer, OpenStack and VMware vSphere, organizations, or RightScale itself, can develop plugins to manage those services. The new plugin capability covers all of the RightScale functionality: compute, networking, and storage.

RightScale execs, as one would expect, are ebullient about this news:

"RightScale has long abstracted cloud functionality across compute, networking, and storage, but we are now making it easy for our own services team, customers, or partners to develop plugins that orchestrate the many new services and features that cloud providers are developing at such a furious rate," said Michael Crandell, CEO of RightScale. "Innovation is driving enterprise cloud usage forward - and RightScale helps our customers go beyond a least common denominator approach to cloud management."

In terms of how the plugins actually work, a RightScale Cloud Application Template (CAT) defines how a cloud application is deployed and managed: declaring and mapping all the resources used by the workload, defining workflow for orchestration, and automating all the operations that can be performed once the application is running. Once a cloud service plugin is created to integrate with an API-based service, users can provision these services using simple declarative statements in a RightScale CAT file and can also interact with the service through workflows.

The net result is heterogeneous management, the ability to quickly add new cloud providers and platforms to the mix and a simplified and automated cross-cloud orchestration. There is scant mention of everyone's favorite new technology, containers, in the briefing information, but it strikes me that this new approach potentially also lends itself to this use case. RightScale does give a heads up that containers are part of their future-view however, saying:

"RightScale’s vision is also to help customers embrace and leverage new technologies in the application development chain, and the latest and most promising of these is containers. Today, customers can already use the RightScale platform to provision, configure and manage Docker hosts; provision Docker workloads through our self-service interface; and automate infrastructure to support Docker-focused application delivery. Going forward, we will provide new assets and features to integrate RightScale even further with the container ecosystem."

A positive announcement from this credible vendor. The world has changed markedly since RightScale first came into being. This latest release positions them well going forwards.

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Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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