Cloud Services / Technology

CloudFabrix Knows if Your System Supports Your Mission

26 Jul 2016 11:15am, by

For the ever-expanding as-a-service market, CloudFabrix adds governance platform-as-a-service, with its recently launched its AppDimensions flagship software.

It’s an application analytics and intelligence platform focused on ensuring applications meet key business goals, which it calls “outcomes.”

The technology provides cross-layer, cross-domain analytics regardless of the underlying technology. The company focuses on helping customers modernize applications and operations through insights into aspects business leaders care about such as security, cost, availability and performance.

In the past, application management was done piecemeal, CloudFabrix’s Raju Penmetsa said in an interview with The New Stack’s Alex Williams.

“Now we’re learning that we need to understand the holistic system from an application point of view rather than a VM or storage or compute resource point of view. When we talk about an application, this is what is driving your business,” Penmetsa said.

Governance is key in initiatives such as transforming legacy applications, data center modernization or moving to a multi-cloud environment, explained Bhaskar Krishnamsetty, CloudFabrix’s product and marketing lead, in a separate interview.

“We’re focused on business-critical applications, not just cloud-native applications, though we built out the platform on microservices to ensure it’s ready for cloud-native applications,” he said.

Is It a PaaS?

CloudFabrix was born from the team that created data center automation company Cloupia, which Cisco acquired in 2012. They started CloudFabrix in 2014.

Despite the discussion about PaaS in multi-cloud environments in the above interview, Krishnamsetty said CloudFabrix isn’t really a PaaS.

“There are PaaS and SaaS platforms, but we are more a business transformation level. We work with all these platforms to provide full visibility from the application point of view,” he said.

‘We’re vendor agnostic. Our platform sits on top… Developers or operators can choose any PaaS or cloud.” Applications can run in containers, on VMs, bare metal or some mixture.

Discussions of PaaS platforms, he said, generally are about cloud-native development or greenfield applications, “but if you look at enterprises, 70 to 80 percent are business critical .NET, Java-based, Oracle, SAP. They were not architected with cloud in mind. So we need to figure out what is the best platform or technology for them to transform to.”

Operational aspects such as governance and security can be an afterthought, he says, when they need to be ingrained in the platform.

Focus on Outcomes

When companies set a business objective, such as reducing the wait time for shoppers, they often don’t specify the technology used to achieve that; Krishnamsetty said, and “When you do this in a heterogeneous, multi-cloud environment, in the end, it creates more complexity for the operations team. That’s where we need to bring these things together.”

The CloudFabrix process includes:

Discovery: AppDimensions uses an agentless approach in this first step to collect data on the application footprint for both legacy and cloud-native apps. It can do this out of the box with traditional apps such as SAP, .NET, Java, Oracle, but it can be tailored for custom apps as well. It’s designed to provide full visibility into the operation of that application.

Define and govern: “You need to align with an outcome; otherwise, you’re just using technology,” Krishnamsetty said. What does the business care about?

Transformation can fall into many buckets, such as implementing a software-defined network or a software-defined data center, DevOps automation, PaaS implementation, cloud-native applications or aspects of ops modernization.

“They can say ‘I want 30 percent of my applications containerized by Q3 2016. Or if I’m allocating this much of my budget to this initiative, I don’t want more than 5 percent cost overrun.’ Those are business-level outcomes,” he said.

Then that gets translated to more granular operations-level goals.

“Say the application in production has to meet three-nines availability. Out of the box, the platform needs to check application availability; it needs to check load balancing, server availability, storage levels — everything related to those insights gets added. The platform will start collecting the data at every layer and every domain,” Krishnamsetty said.

“With availability, many times the configuration is not right. So we collect all these insights and give it an application governance score. It’s like a health check, a blood-pressure check. If the score is 100, everything is going well. If it’s 90 or 83, it means there’s a problem with a server, there’s a security violation or it’s overloaded. You will know if it’s at the application infrastructure level or at the network level or storage. There’s a dashboard to show you where the problem is.”

Optimize and Predict: The software then uses machine learning to provide suggestions about how to bring the application’s score back to 100. It also provides the ability to predict problems based on the data.

“It’s not just visibility; there’s a feedback loop — how do you correct it? How do you mitigate it?” Krishnamsetty said.

So far AppDimensions is an on-premise offering, but the company will be rolling out a SaaS version later this year. It has built an SDK and plans to create a marketplace next year where those getting into Docker, VMware, CloudFoundry and others can get the insights worked out for those technologies.

CloudFabrix is a sponsor of The New Stack.

Feature Image: “Cleethorpes dawn4” by vikwaters, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

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