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January 7, 2009

Sun heads to the clouds with Q-layer buy

But is there substance behind the cloud hype?

By Jason Stamper

Sun Microsystems is bolstering its cloud computing capabilities with the acquisition of Belgian organisation Q-layer, on undisclosed terms.

Q-layer is said to automate the deployment and management of both public and private clouds.

Cloud computing is, according to the Wikipedia definition, a style of computing where IT-related capabilities are provided ‘as a service’, allowing users to access technology-enabled services ‘in the cloud’ without knowledge of, expertise with, or control over the technology infrastructure that supports them.

As William Fellows, principal analyst at The 451 Group wrote in a recent report on cloud computing, “The cloud is IT, presented as a service to the user, delivered by virtualised resources that are independent of location.”

Sun said it will make Q-layer part of its Cloud Computing business unit which develops and integrates cloud computing technologies, architectures and services.

According to Sun, “The Q-layer technology simplifies cloud management and allows users to quickly provision and deploy applications, a key component in Sun’s strategy to enable building public and private clouds.”

While there has been an inordinant amount of hype surrounding cloud computing, Sun is serious enough about the trend and its potential to count a senior vice president of cloud computing among its ranks. That title is held by David Douglas, though he also doubles as Sun’s chief sustainability officer.

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“Sun’s open, network-centric approach coupled with optimised systems, software and services provides the critical building blocks for private and public cloud offerings,” said Douglas. “Q-layer’s technology and expertise will enhance Sun’s offerings, simplifying cloud management and speeding application deployment.”

The Q-layer software supports ‘instant’ provisioning of services such as servers, storage, bandwidth and applications, enabling users to scale their own environments to meet their specific requirements.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed as the transaction is not material to Sun.

CBR opinion

While cloud computing promises much in the enterprise space, it is undoubtedly in the consumer market where cloud-based services – such as Amazon and Google — are most mature. Vendors pushing cloud computing capabilities in the enterprise space have some way to go before they are able to deliver on the real promise of cloud computing: IT as a service. There are also numerous concerns in the enterprise space that the cloud computing vendors will need to assuage. As analyst firm Butler Group’s head of research Tim Jennings wrote in a recent research note: “Service levels, security, and performance are all areas where customers will need reassurance and clear evidence of adequate resilience.”

 

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