Platform Computing and the cloud

Although we’re dealing with blizzard conditions here in D.C., Fed Cloud Blog continues to bring you useful info about cloud computing.

Today we talk with Randy Clark, CMO of Platform Computing.

He explains how they’re working with the federal government, and how they themselves are using cloud.

RC: Platform Computing has been a leader in distributed computing for years, and we create management software to management to manage clusters, grids and now clouds.

For the federal government we’re heavily involved in many of their grid initiatives.

Now we’re getting involved in their private cloud initiative.

Grids have traditionally been for HPC — high performance applications — and supporting those with a shared infrastructure.

Cloud is taking that evolution of distributed computing to the next step in allowing all types of applications — enterprise applications — to be put on a shared pool of resources.

Cloud is also making that pool more dynamic in nature so that it can flex up and down as the resources demand.

FCB: When you’re talking about enterprise, are you talking about maybe the payroll system? Talk a little about that.

RC: The opportunity with cloud computing is two-fold.

One is to save costs and costs can be saved by pooling different IT silos together to a more efficient pool of resources to be shared across different departments or applications or owners of those services.

The second opportunity that cloud provides is responsiveness.

So, the ability to get an IT environment very quickly. An example of that would be going to Amazon and using your credit card to get a pool of compute power.

That allows the government to move out of being IT people and move into the businesses and the services and the applications that they actually provide. It allows them to focus on that more.

So, in both cases, these clouds that we’re talking about are either private or public.

They’re internal or external and, typically, in almost all cases, they’re a hybrid of each of those, but these clouds are built over a period of time to support the specific needs, the specific applications of those departments.

FCB: In terms of building a hybrid cloud, are there special security concerns you have to deal with, because you’re not just in the private cloud [but] you’re not just in a public cloud. Talk a little bit about the challenges there.

RC: I think one of the benefits, or opportunities, with cloud is to share resources.

So, create, in effect, a larger, more efficient pool of resources that supports multiple departments or businesses.

The flip side to that is that it becomes more accessible and therefore security in government issues become more important.

Most of the activity we’re seeing are what I would characterize as private clouds.

Those are being deployed in conjunction with service providers integrators and even with those private clouds, once you start sharing across departments, security in governance becomes an issue.

FCB: Are you guys using cloud advantages at your company?

RC: We are.

We’re a software company so we primarily develop software.

We use a private cloud internally to support our test and development group, which has about probably 50 plus testers and developers that work on servers at this point.

Some of those are virtual machines and some are a cluster, in effect.

So, our platform cluster management product is at use internally.

So those developers share those resources and provision their application environments on that private cloud.

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