From the Founder & VP Products at CloudSwitch

Ellen Rubin

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P2C: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Cloud

In the cloud, companies can build capacity on-demand without having to own or manage the computing infrastructure

As IT organizations move forward with their virtualization initiatives, consolidating operations and shrinking provisioning times, the cloud has come along as an even more compelling option. In the cloud, companies can build capacity on-demand without having to own or manage the computing infrastructure. As companies review their application portfolios, they’ve started to realize that many of their not-yet-virtualized apps could easily be run in the cloud. In particular, applications that are characterized by spikey, cyclical, or seasonal usage could benefit the most from the cloud’s economics and scalability but a significant percentage aren’t even getting the benefits of virtualization.

So what’s the delay in going “P2V” (physical to virtual)? As with the cloud, virtualization has typically percolated from the bottom up. In many cases it crept into organizations, led by developers and technology evangelists who recognized the efficiency and cost advantages of virtualization and simply started using it. While many enterprise customers have started expanding their virtual footprints it can be a long and complex process. Although technically it’s quite easy to virtualize an application, using a number of well-known P2V tools such as VMWare Converter from VMware or Platespin (now owned by Novell), the harder part of the process is often agreeing which applications to virtualize and understanding the inter-dependencies between these apps and other data center services.

As corporate IT has slowly adopted virtualization as a strategic imperative, the cloud has come along with paradigm-changing flexibility and elasticity. We’re now seeing enterprise customers and prospects ask what they can do with applications that aren’t yet virtualized and are still sitting on dedicated servers, recognizing that the cloud is likely to be their ultimate home. Thus we’re seeing the emergence of a new model “P2C” (physical to cloud), with virtualization in the data center becoming a stepping stone to the ultimate destination of the cloud. As discussed in a previous blog, the cloud has become a catalyst that is prompting companies to broaden their virtualization efforts.

Customers and prospects have told us that the P2C model is far preferable to simply performing a virtualization project in a vacuum and figuring out later which applications really belong in the cloud and how to get them there. In contrast, P2C is all about planning for the cloud from the outset, starting with virtualization and moving to the cloud as a natural progression. The P2C approach can also lead enterprises to alter their virtualization strategy compared to pure P2V. In some cases, they may want to use the cloud a temporary home for applications that need to migrate between data centers, to support satellite offices or in the case of an acquisition. In other cases, they may keep the application permanently in the cloud and be able to budget for far fewer internal resources.

Thus, we encourage customers to consider P2C as a valuable strategy, since for many applications, the cloud will deliver far greater self-service and on-demand computing power than available internally. By planning for this ultimate goal and designing their infrastructure accordingly, customers can also potentially save a great deal of time and money. Ultimately, a single integrated environment will span the virtualized data center and multiple clouds, using the same tools and providing the same simplicity of experience. CloudSwitch is working with our customers and partners to make it easy to use the cloud, regardless of the starting point.

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Ellen Rubin is the CEO and co-founder of ClearSky Data, an enterprise storage company that recently raised $27 million in a Series B investment round. She is an experienced entrepreneur with a record in leading strategy, market positioning and go-to- market efforts for fast-growing companies. Most recently, she was co-founder of CloudSwitch, a cloud enablement software company, acquired by Verizon in 2011. Prior to founding CloudSwitch, Ellen was the vice president of marketing at Netezza, where as a member of the early management team, she helped grow the company to more than $130 million in revenues and a successful IPO in 2007. Ellen holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and an undergraduate degree magna cum laude from Harvard University.