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Are VMware Veterans Jumping on the Hyper-V Bandwagon?

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A venture startup financially backed and run by a deep bench of VMware talent is hoping to re-invent the way IT pros manage their virtual infrastructures using a new cloud-based big data analytics service.

CloudPhysics last week went live with its namesake service aimed at simplifying the administration of virtual machines by using a vast real-time analytics engine that aggregates and analyzes billions of data points. Administrators will be able to use the results of these analytic queries to ease the burden of solving the multitude of complex operational issues that come up, according to the company.

The Mountain View, Calif.-based company also said it has raised $10 million in a second round of venture capital financing from Kleiner Perkins. The company's first round came from Mayfield Fund.

CloudPhysics operates a cloud-based software as a service (SaaS) consisting of what it described as a sophisticated real-time data analytics engine. This knowledgebase, which constantly takes in new data feeds, diagnoses and troubleshoots thousands of issues that might affect the function of a VMware ESX virtual server cluster environment such as incorrectly configured scripts, network configuration errors, and memory and IO utilization issues.

"The administrator has multiple questions, literally thousands of questions that are very well-defined explorations or responses to very well-defined problems," explained Founder and CEO John Blumenthal, who is among the VMware veterans who helped launch CloudPhysics in 2011.

Naturally I asked if this is a VMware-only play or if the company will support the growing presence of virtual machines powered by Microsoft's Hyper-V, as well as Xen and KVM hypervisors. Blumenthal said that is indeed the plan and by the end of the year it will support one of the above-mentioned hypervisors. While there's a good chance it will be Hyper-V, he said it's not a certainty. The company is still weighing whether it should consider KVM before Hyper-V.

"The commercial midmarket user who is our targeted customer as we go to market is looking more curiously at Hyper-V," Blumenthal said. "And as you move up in the size of organizations, we are encountering an increased presence and interest in KVM and OpenStack."

Blumenthal described the service as a big data repository that collects more than 80 billion pieces of data each day from a variety of sources, ranging from technical blogs to configuration data from customers and other sources. The data is all "anonymized" and used to create patterns that are subsequently analyzed.

Data fed from customer datacenters and other sources are kept anonymous by using sophisticated cryptography to debunk concerns about the privacy and security of data, Blumenthal said. While I didn't dispute the wisdom of those measures, especially with heightened concerns about surveillance, I asked Blumenthal why an organization would be worried about their memory utilization getting into the wrong hands.

"It's more of a policy issue than anything else," Blumenthal said. "When you talk to users, they make extensive uses of SaaS services, including, where actually the most sensitive data in a corporation is now off-prem in the form of the customer contact list. Usually, in most of our discussions with our users who raise these concerns, they back down from it very quickly when they stop and think it through."

More than 500 enterprises globally tested the service, which is hosted on the Amazon Web Services EC2 service, though Blumenthal said it can easily be moved to another infrastructure as a service (IaaS).

"It's not tied to Amazon in any way," Blumenthal said. "Amazon's back-end provides the running infrastructure for compliance and security."

Customers install a virtual appliance on their VMware ESX clusters, which function as an agent. Administrators can discover and troubleshoot hundreds of operational problems using specific analytic components that CloudPhysics calls Cards, available from an app store-type environment also launched this week. In addition to accessing cards that offer pre-configured reports, a customer can create their own with a tool called Card Builder.

The analytics engine is designed to help administrators optimize storage, compute, network and other components using various modeling methods that can address performance and cost benchmarks. A planning component lets administrators simulate the effects of adding new hardware, software and other components.

CloudPhysics offers a free community edition. For a standard edition with more features and e-mail support, pricing starts at $49 for customers signing a one-year contract or $89 for those who opt to go month by month. An enterprise edition is available for $149/$189 per month and offers telephone support and the full menu of features.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 08/19/2013 at 3:32 PM


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