One cloud for your enterprise doesn't cut it, says CliQr's Dave Cope

Enterprise IT workloads are diverse, and CliQr Technologies wants to enable companies to better manage applications with the cloud of their choice.

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Large enterprises, explained Dave Cope of CliQr Technologies, have different IT workloads with complicated requirements. In a recent email Q&A with TechRepublic, Cope, EVP of Corporate Development and CMO at CliQr, asked, "What are the odds that a single cloud would be able to meet the needs of each application within an enterprise portfolio?" The main trend that he sees in cloud management is the enterprise's increasing ability to run workloads on the cloud of their choice.

Founded in 2010, the Silicon Valley startup provides hybrid cloud application migration and management solutions and has raised $16 million in capital over two rounds. This is how Cope describes the value proposition of CloudCenter, its flagship product: "CloudCenter empowers any large organization to migrate, govern, and manage both new and existing applications on any public, private, or physical cloud."

In our email exchange, Cope discussed the challenges of enterprise IT dealing with the complexities of cloud management. CliQr's main customer, he added, is an IT department struggling with shadow IT or the difficulties of cloud migration and management. He also explained why an application-down method in handling your cloud assets works better than the traditional infrastructure-up worldview.

TechRepublic: Looking at 2015, what are the main trends in enterprise cloud management?

Dave Cope: The biggest trend is probably the ability to run workloads on any cloud you want. Enterprises know a thing or two about avoiding lock-in, but that notion has been slow when it comes to cloud technologies. Large companies have diverse workloads, they just do. So what are the odds that a single cloud would be able to meet the needs of each application within an enterprise portfolio given that diversity? Flip that around and ask, why can't an enterprise use many clouds and choose on an application-by-application basis what the best execution venue for each one is? With CloudCenter, enterprises can do that.

TechRepublic: What are main challenges that IT faces in managing cloud applications, and how does CloudCenter solve them?

Dave Cope: Again it goes back to the diversity. An HPC batch job needs different infrastructure than a steady state marketing web site. Dev/test workloads have more variability and are a better fit for the elasticity of public cloud than production workloads are. Sometimes an organization wants to protect data behind a firewall and run on a private cloud, while other times they want to take advantage of rapidly improving public cloud features. Some users are sophisticated and very technical while others are not. Dealing with all that diversity is what CloudCenter really excels at given how portable we make applications across any cloud and with all the governance and management tools we provide.

TechRepublic: What kinds of companies and market segments do you serve?

Dave Cope: Our core customer is any IT department that that is struggling with either shadow IT or the complexity of the cloud and wants to create IT-as-a-Service offerings so that their various and diverse constituents can get the on-demand self-service provisioning they want, but in a way that IT can control and monitor responsibly.

TechRepublic: How does CliQr define application-centric cloud computing, and how does CloudCenter accomplish that?

Dave Cope: Traditionally, cloud management platforms take an older worldview of the landscape, meaning from the infrastructure up. Taking that approach makes it difficult to provide portability among clouds because the infrastructure APIs for each are so different. By viewing the world from the application-down, CliQr creates unmatched portability with our Application Profiles, which are cloud-agnostic descriptions of the infrastructure needs of a given application. When passed to our patented Orchestrators, which run on each cloud and have best practices for that specific cloud built into them, an Application Profile gets instantiated on specific infrastructure for that particular cloud. This abstraction of the Application Profile while maintaining native cloud knowledge in the Orchestrator is how we accomplish application-centric cloud computing.

TechRepublic: What differentiates your solution from the competition?

Dave Cope: There are four things. First, CloudCenter addresses the full lifecycle of having a hybrid cloud at your disposal. Many of our competitors do fine with the migration of applications from their source to a target cloud. CloudCenter not only handles that and easily allows you to move applications between clouds, but the long term aspects of the lifecycle dealing with governing its usage and rolling up metrics into a single management console is something few of our competitors offer.

The second aspect is our cloud independence. CloudCenter currently supports 18 different clouds and because of our modular product architecture, we're able to add new ones as customers need them in about a month. Nobody else in this Cloud Management Platform market can claim that diversity or that speed of adaptation.

Third is our enterprise readiness. A Cloud Management Platform that struggles with 250 VMs under management is a problem for any sizeable IT department, and CloudCenter scales to well beyond 10,000 per cloud. Other aspects like security, multi-tenancy, and the ability to integrate with existing tools and processes are also keys that not all our competitors address adequately.

Finally there's our time to value. Our top competitors are fundamentally in the professional services business, not the software business. As such, they take six to eight weeks to just install their product for a proof of concept where with CloudCenter, you can get started on our SaaS model in a few hours or on your own dedicated installation in a few days.

TechRepublic: Could you share a customer success story?

Dave Cope: Baylor University School of Medicine is a great example. They were looking for a comprehensive platform that could handle the entire lifecycle of migrating and managing applications and related data on a combination of private and public clouds. They realized that while they would be starting simple, for them to grow to be able to handle a federation of clouds, applications, and users, the technology approach had to be centered on the application. They needed to be able to describe their application and have everything else handled including benchmarking, orchestration, auto-scaling, policy-based governance, and more.

TechRepublic: What security features are built into CloudCenter?

Dave Cope: CloudCenter has security built into its very foundation with military grade encryption at rest and in transit for binaries and data, key vaulting, integrations with Hardware Security Modules, and the ability to institute Single Sign-On over SAML 2.0.

TechRepublic: What are your main goals over the next year?

Dave Cope: To continue our phenomenal growth, both with customer adoption and feature enhancements. We're proud of our ability to react to market changes, and our governance as well as the management features are proof of that.

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By Brian Taylor

Brian Taylor is a contributing writer for TechRepublic. He covers the tech trends, solutions, risks, and research that IT leaders need to know about, from startups to the enterprise. Technology is creating a new world, and he loves to report on it.