I’ve been learning a lot at the Cloud Expo this week, even sifting through the various sales pitches to get at the heart of the changes happening. Cloud computing’s about a lot of things, for some it’s data center outsourcing, for others it’s about elastic capacity. For me, it’s more about easing integration and changing the way software is purchased and deployed.
For AppZero (formerly Trigence), it’s about deploying applications across any cloud vendor.
If I understand it correctly, they’ve got an abstraction layer that allows you to install the application without affecting the OS “space.” In doing so, it becomes possible to move instances of your applications between cloud vendors (or between your own data center and the cloud). They have a very slick demo, in which they deployed an application to Google and moved it to Amazon Web Services. You can even try it yourself.
Greg O’Connor (AppZero CEO) was presenting. Greg’s one of the key people responsible for Progress buying my company, Actional, about 3 years ago. His vision, along with that of Hub Vandervoort’s and Gordon Van Huizen’s, have given me a good career-home for the past three+ years. In any case, I’m clearly a “friendly,” though perhaps a mischievous one.
Greg was answering a question about testing the app, and something popped into my head. I actually raised my hand, and it was like telepathically we went back and forth:
“David, don’t mess with me.”
“No, Greg, I’ve got a real question, and it relates to what this other guy asked.”
“OK, I’m going to trust you, don’t let me down.”
He called me by name, which I think raised some eyebrows. I was the only person in the room with a suit too, so I stood out a bit. After my question, there was a bit of a blank look that I took for surprise. Then, a “yeah, we can do that.” I think I was even sitting next to one of his employees, who leaned over and said “hey, that’s a good idea.”
You see, they were talking about testing. And, it occurred to me that it might be interesting to deploy an application and a test harness into an AppZero container, which can then be put on any cloud they support. Once deployed you could run the test harness and, knowing that the application is the same, you can easily test relative vendor performance (and other characteristics) across multiple clouds.
To me, that sounds hugely beneficial.
It was funny, people thought I was plant. I was talking to a guy from Cornell afterwards, and he mentioned that AppZero would be good simply for upgrading hardware. Apparently, uninstalling an app, upgrading hardware, and reinstalling on a new platform is pretty time consuming. Like I said, I learned a lot this week talking to other attendees. What fun.
I’m looking forward to keeping an eye on AppZero, and wish Greg and his team the best of luck.