CloudSwitch Details Plans to Bridge Corporate Data Centers, Cloud Resources

2/11/10Follow @wroush

Doing your business computing on cloud systems owned by companies like Amazon sounds like a great idea, on the surface of it. Who wouldn’t want to rent computing resources just for the time they’re needed, rather than shelling out for expensive on-premises equipment that might sit idle half of the time? The problem is that most big companies have already invested millions in their data centers, and have painstakingly assembled the right set of operating systems, enterprise applications, and virtualization technologies to support their businesses.

CloudSwitch, a venture-funded startup in Burlington, MA, has built software that gives companies a way around this dilemma, allowing them to try cloud services without having to abandon their legacy systems. In a nutshell, the software erases the boundaries between on-premises and off-premises computing systems, at least from the user’s point of view, making cloud systems into nothing more than a temporary extension of existing resources. It’s like adding a room on to your house just for the weekend, when you’re having guests over.

When we first profiled CloudSwitch back in June 2009, its executives weren’t saying much about how the software does this, or exactly why it’s a money-saving proposition. But recently the company has been testing its software with beta customers and talking more openly about the product. And last month I got a briefing from John McEleney, CloudSwitch’s CEO, and Ellen Rubin, its co-founder and vice president of products, on the company’s progress since the summer—which already “feels like a decade ago,” McEleney says.

While the 2008-2009 recession hit business hard, McEleney says, it was good news in a way for CloudSwitch, since the ongoing pressure to reduce costs is forcing many companies to look harder at cloud computing. “The reality is that hardware costs are pretty fixed, so it was a lot people who got decimated,” McEleney says. “The people who remain—the IT guys who keep things running—are the ones hurt the most. They have to do more with less. So we see 2010 as the year when many organizations will be testing out [cloud] applications.”

Most of CloudSwitch’s potential customers are already using virtualization software from companies like VMware to make the most of their existing hardware, by yoking together separate machines and letting them run multiple operating systems. So Cloudswitch’s tool is designed to run inside those virtualized environments. Its job is to … Next Page »

Wade Roush is a contributing editor at Xconomy. Follow @wroush

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