HP Launches Network Management For Cloud Computing
Thursday, April 2, 2009
HP on Tuesday released Cloud Assure, a new suite of bundled software-as-a-service products and managed services aimed at helping enterprises and would-be SaaS vendors alike adopt and manage cloud computing. With Cloud Assure, customers work with an account manager and engineering team to assess their IT environments’ readiness for cloud computing and then monitor and manage security and availability of cloud-based applications with HP’s Application Security Center, Performance Center, and Business Availability Center services. “For companies that want to run an app on the Amazon.com platform, we want to give them the same degree of performance, availability, and security in the cloud as they have on premises today,” Scott Kupor, HP’s VP and general manager of SaaS, said in a teleconference announcing Cloud Assure. “Our ultimate goal is to take any guesswork out of the confidence companies have in the cloud.” As such, Cloud Assure could be seen as a first step to apply HP’s large IT management portfolio and expertise to the cloud. Over time, according to Van Ash, HP’s director of SaaS, there’s opportunity to bring IT service management, backup, and recovery to the cloud as well.
Application Security Center, Performance Center, and Business Availability Center have been available separately for varying amounts of time, but never wrapped neatly in a bow as in Cloud Assure, which offers the three as a group with additional hands-on assistance for a one-year contract term. Each “Center” application is based on a virtual or synthetic user logging into and transacting business on any cloud platform from any one node of a network of HP locations. That model means there’s no need for complicated installation of on-premises software with Cloud Assure. But it also arguably limits Cloud Assure’s effectiveness, if the customer wants to measure last-mile performance of the application or security from inside the firewall. In an interview, Ash disagreed. “We can get a pretty good picture without having to see the last mile,” he said. Performance Center and Business Availability Center measure the performance and availability of cloud applications. Performance Center uses 12 globally distributed load farms to test application scalability, while Business Availability Center measures service levels from an end user’s perspective, for example, to ascertain if a company needs more bandwidth. These apps can also detect and alert admins when performance slips. Application Security Center, meanwhile, allows HP to scan Web applications for vulnerabilities and attacks, checking for things such as SQL injection. If HP finds a vulnerability, it will then provide some advice for fixing it. That added expert advice is a key part of Cloud Assure, Kupor says. “Most organizations haven’t yet been able to develop best practices for themselves,” he says. In this case, a technical account manager helps companies determine best practices for deploying or delivering cloud apps and helps choose what types of technologies companies need to prepare.