In the time since cloud debuted as a serious corporate-computing option and the moment 10 seconds later when hype about cloud expanded to fill all the available space in the industry, vendors in every specialty connected in any way to the cloud have pitched tools to make all that integration and management easier.
Buy some cloud and you get lots of infrastructure or platform, but very little help in moving VMs, workloads or data from the enterprise to the new place.
You also don't get much help automate the movement of data from one to the other, upload your workloads and VMs, keep track of what they're doing, apply existing security policies, disaster recovery and every other policy, failsafe, or control you've built up in the data center over the course of years to make sure as little as possible breaks or gets stolen, you're out of luck.
Lots of companies offer tools, but most are limited to their own products or market segments – data migration, security, monitoring.
VMware and Citrix both announced ways to connect clouds to each other and the enterprise.
VMware Horizon, announced in May, manages applications and the integration of external SAAS apps with the enterprise. It doesn't handle whole clouds or competitors' products.
The vCloud Connector plugin to its vCloud management app is designed to make it easier to move virtual machines from one cloud to another using the OVF standardized virtual-machine format standard. It doesn't like other companies' VMs very much, either.
Citrix goes further, with NetScaler Cloud Bridge, a product announced in May that is designed to create a bridge at networking Layer 2 between enterprise networks and the cloud. Layer 2 is so far down the networking-protocol pyramid that it is below the perception of applications and operating systems.
As far as they know, they're moving toward or talking to servers that are part of the enterprise network, even if they actually live at Amazon or Teramark.
That's good, as is the encryption and VPN that connects the Cloud Bridge to the Cloud, but it works best with XenServer.
So what do you do if you don't want to be locked into either a single virtualization vendor or cloud provider, want to be able to move a VM from one cloud to another if you want, or from the enterprise to the cloud, or do real-time backup and HA failover for VMs running in the cloud?
What if you want to be able to use the same directories and authentiation servers as on the home network and apply the performance alerts and other instruments you use to prove you're hitting SLA targets and shouldn't be fired this quarter?
One answer is to virtualize a little more.
CloudSwitch is a software vendor that sells what company co-founder and CTO John Considine
describes as a hypervisor for clouds.
Rather than sitting between the hardware and the operating system, lying to both so that neither knows there is more than one OS and application stack on the server, CloudSwitch built a layer of software designed to convince applications and operating systems they're still running as virtual machines on the home network, rather than on cloud services from Amazon, Microsoft, Teramark or others.
"We are basically lying to everything – lying to the cloud so it thinks the operating systems are runnig just on it, lying to the apps and operating systems so they think they're still on the enterprise network, and to the virtualized infrastructure to tell it the cloud is just another part of the enterprise," he said.
CloudSwitch works with any major hypervisor or virtualization infrastructure, and allows existing network management, systems administration and other tools to work on the new platform as well as the old.
That eliminates most of the headache of using and integrating cloud computing services as an adjunct to enterprise systems – the inability to control all that data and software once it gets raptured into the cloud.
The software costs $25,000 per year for a license allowing 50 virtual servers to run concurrently, with per-server pricing above that.
"As far as anyone can tell, the cloud just becomes another part of the enterprise," Considine said of his company's attempt to strip the gloss and new-data-center smell away from brand, shiny new cloud servcies.
"That's true," he said. "We made cloud boring. You get the adaptability and ability to pay only for what you use, but it looks like just another data center. "