Skytap automates cloud deployments

Skytap, a provider of cloud automation software, this week unveiled orchestration and configuration products designed to enable enterprises to easily create virtual environments in the cloud.

This release of new Skytap software features — Configuration Routing and Self-Service Cloud Orchestration — allows development and test teams to replicate their in-house environments in the cloud while sharing server resources, such as a Microsoft Team Foundation Server, HP Application Life-cycle Management server or MySQL database, the company says. Users can coordinate the startup, shutdown and suspend sequence of virtual data centers that include shared server resources without requiring IT support, Skytap says.

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As a result, enterprises can reduce the time it takes to move workloads to the cloud, the company says.

Data centers often require the use of centralized servers that share information across many applications, Skytap says. Trying to replicate this model in the cloud can create redundant servers and higher usage costs, and users are then faced with coordinating the startup and shutdown sequence of virtual data centers with scores, or even hundreds, or virtual machines processing complicated applications.

Skytap attempts to automate this process on behalf of development and test managers.

Configuration Routing is designed to allow users to re-create a traditional “server hub/spoke” model in the cloud. It allows users to connect any number of server configurations to a centralized server configuration and set up custom DNS services.

For example, a centralized server “hub” such as Microsoft Team Foundation might be configured to connect to multiple development and test environments, while also configuring network routes — the “spokes” — between them.

Configuration Routing allows development managers to automate this process through a “self-service” user interface that Skytap says allows them to more easily move in-house environments to the cloud, avoid server set-up errors, accelerate release cycles and reduce costs.

The Skytap Self-Service Cloud Orchestration feature is intended to eliminate the need for complicated scripts and data center automation software. For example, if a configuration requires an Active Directory server to power up first, followed by the Team Foundation server, the database server, the load balancer and the web servers, Cloud Orchestration can simplify this task by enabling users to specify the sequence and scheduling dependencies through the Skytap user interface.

Once specified, these rules are automatically enforced during the startup, suspend and shutdown processes, Skytap says.

Configuration Routing and Self-Service Cloud Orchestration are offered to existing customers free of charge. Pricing for the Skytap software starts at $250 per month, which includes support for five users, five Skytap virtual machines — a Skytap virtual machine equals 1/CPU/1 GB RAM computing — 500 Skytap virtual machine hours and 200GB of storage.

Skytap has more than 160 global enterprise and ISV customers, and its software specializes in the construction of public and hybrid clouds. Skytap software is meant to bridge isolated VLANs established within clouds, which can introduce challenges in establishing centralized resources, routing between environments and resource sharing.

Then company supports VMware and Citrix hypervisors, and partnerships with server vendors Dell, HP and IBM. Skytap also competes with VMware and other companies that develop and market virtual data center and cloud management products.