Two of the hottest topics in technology these days is the concept of virtualization and cloud computing. Virtualization typically refers to running an operating system completely within another operating system. The most popular product that fits this paradigm is VMWare which we have been using for years. In the past few years, however, many other companies have jumped on the bandwagon. Novell and Citrix deliver products based on the open-source Xen hypervisor, Microsoft has both ‘Virtual Server and Virtual PC and even Oracle has the Oracle VM.
Cloud computing takes this abstraction to a different level with the hardware actually being virtualized and run in a different data center. Wikipedia defines it like this:
"Cloud computing is Internet ("cloud") based development and use of computer technology ("computing"). It is a style of computing in which typically real-time scalable resources are provided “as a service” over the Internet to users who need not have knowledge of, expertise in, or control over the technology infrastructure ("in the cloud") that supports them."
There is also the concept of hosted applications where applications can be hosted by a company in the business of ‘hosting’ applications for customers. I am not sure I am really clear on the distinction, so I turned to my friend, fellow Hyperion entrepreneur (and skier) Andy Jorgensen from K2 Analytics (now Titan Technologies) to explain the difference. According to Andy, one of the main differences is that a hosted application typically refers to a ‘fully managed service package where no customer administrative functionalities are needed.’ In other words, if you need the functionality that Hyperion Planning/HFM/Essbase provides but you don’t have the expertise in-house to manage it, the expertise can be bundled into a package. You can read more about Andy’s company at http://www.k2analytics.com/.
Another friend of mine, Rohit Amarnath, founder of Full360, has worked the cloud computing angle. With their offering, Full360 has Essbase instances setup on VMs running on the Amazon cloud in both Linux and Windows environments. With this approach, the idea is that there is an Essbase environment available to you via the web/remote connections and that you don’t need to find a server to host your application. Pricing on this model is based on actual resource time used on the server. One of the first things I thought about with this arrangement is that it would be very easy for a company to use the Full360 offering to try out new versions of the software. Further, it may be an ideal situation where a company finds it hard to do the capital expense outlay to obtain new servers or where they want to manage their own environment without managing the physical hardware. Full360 also provides management services on the cloud sites. You can contact Full360 at http://www.full360.com/. By the way, we have already deployed Dodeca on the Full360 cloud and it worked great.
I got an email last week from our partners at HyNote which is an IT Orchestration firm which has a strong background in the Hyperion world; the founders, in fact, are former Hyperion employees. They have put together a page on cloud computing at http://www.hynote.com/tech_cc.html and have a webinar scheduled for next week entitled “EPM Cloud for Hyperion”. I hope to attend the webinar and, if you are interested in attending, you can sign-up for the webinar at https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/667510291. That reminds me; I better go and sign up now!