The hybrid cloud gods of acquisition have admitted two new players into their gilded digital halls — Ravello Systems and CliQr. Larry Ellison and his cohorts at Oracle threw half a billion at Ravello, and Chuck Robbins and company at Cisco lavished $256 million for snatching up CliQr. Personally, I think these were two very shrewd moves by two of the industry’s dominant players. In this blog I’ll cover Ravello and I’ll discuss the CliQr acquisition in a later post.
Earlier this year I was asked by the press to name some cloud startup companies to watch. Ravello made my short list and for good reason. Their ability to enable businesses to rapidly deploy application development and test workload instances in the public cloud is very, very interesting — especially for Oracle. During Oracle Open World last October, Oracle CEO Mark Hurd went on record saying that 100% of dev/test workloads would live in the cloud within the next decade and that Oracle intended to compete aggressively for this business. Ravello gives Oracle a way to allow their customers to spin up dev/test instances in the Oracle cloud, in AWS, Google or any other cloud provider environment very simply, rapidly and efficiently.
Most application workloads operate across multiple VMs. And the challenge with replicating the configuration of these environments (machine images, networking, storage configurations, etc.) to enable application development and testing in the public cloud can be complex and time consuming. Ravello essentially encapsulates all this information through the magic of SaaS-based technology and presto: you have a near-instantaneous development and test bed in the cloud that completely emulates your production environment.
Here are the benefits:
- Faster application development and testing. Every time I look at the App Store on my iPhone I have half a dozen new application updates pending. This is the new norm. For businesses to compete, they need the ability to iteratively innovate to find new ways to improve the customer experience, new ways to monetize their products and services and new ways to outflank the competition. The old publishing imperative was “publish or perish”, in IT it's "innovate or incinerate".
- Lower IT costs. By having the ability to instantly spin up and spin down resources in the cloud, technologies like Ravello could give businesses a way to size their private clouds to handle their mean or average workload and then use the cloud to handle the overflow. While Ravello is positioned squarely at the dev/test use case, there’s no reason I can see that Oracle won’t be able to extend this technology to support use cases like capacity augmentation and application workload bursting into the cloud. And with Oracle’s R&D war chest, this seems like an inevitable no brainer to me.
- Operational simplicity. The dearth of skill sets in cyber security, multi-hypervisor infrastructure and newer open source technologies like OpenStack, containers and cloud native applications, really cries out for frameworks that can help simplify how these diverse workloads are managed across hybrid cloud environments. While Ravello isn’t a management framework per se, it provides a simplified SaaS based way to port these workloads across any cloud environment on-demand. And frankly, this could be a technology linchpin that helps accelerate business hybrid cloud resource consumption.
I think one of the main reasons why Oracle acquired Ravello is their technology makes cloud infrastructure look just like the infrastructure in a private data center — at least from the application’s perspective. And this was a major theme during Oracle Open World: the need to have a consistent, reliable and simple way for applications on-premise to work across hybrid could environments. Ravello’s distributed hypervisor infrastructure (HVX) gives Oracle a highly differentiated solution that allows customers to take VMware and KVM workloads and rapidly emulate them into any public cloud environment. It will be interesting to see how they can envelop HVX into the Oracle cloud suite in such a way that it drives increased adoption of their own public cloud services.