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Build a Data Center Cloud Utopia With Cloupia

By Paul Rubens (Send Email)
Posted September 28, 2011


It's a product designed to snatch revenue from VMware by attracting vSphere customers that want to extend their server virtualization infrastructure into full-blown private or hybrid cloud implementations away from VMware's cloud stack -- vCenter, vCloud and so on.

Cloupia may well be one of the most terrible names for a company, ever. It's supposed to convey a combination of "cloud" and "utopia," but the truth is it sounds like a disease and looks like it should rhyme with "gloopier."

Fortunately for Cloupia, names don't matter that much. If they did, then Cloupia wouldn't have been the talk of VMworld, thanks to its (rather brilliantly named) CloudGenie iPad app for single-click data center orchestration.

CloudGenie is an cool application as well as a great advertisement for the iPad. ("Data center orchestration to manage and provision physical and virtual infrastructure including bare metal compute provisioning? Hey, there's an app for that!") But it's not Cloupia's bread and butter.

That's provided by its flagship product, which goes by the name of Cloupia Unified Infrastructure Controller (CUIC). This out-of-the-box cloud management and automation solution offers provisioning, dynamic resource allocation, discovery and monitoring, metering and chargeback, analytics, orchestration, a self-service catalogue, operations automation and compliance monitoring -- in short, the whole cloud computing shebang.

It's a product designed to snatch revenue from VMware by attracting vSphere customers that want to extend their server virtualization infrastructure into full-blown private or hybrid cloud implementations away from VMware's cloud stack -- vCenter, vCloud and so on.

Now there's nothing wrong with VMware's stack, so you'd imagine it would be hard for a third party like Cloupia to get VMware customers' attention. The trouble is that a VMware solution costs an arm and a leg, and that's provided an opportunity for Cloupia, and probably soon many others, to step in with alternatives. Baskar Krishnamsetty, Cloupia's vice president of marketing, claims a CUIC cloud solution costs half as much as an equivalent solution using VMware's cloud stack, so you can certainly see the appeal.

Cloupia's CUIC is actually designed as a low-cost cloud solution to sit atop either VMware's ESXi hypervisor or Microsoft's Hyper-V virtualization technology (or both), but about 95 percent of Cloupia customers use CUIC to build cloud solutions on VMWare. That could be because the high cost of VMware's cloud stack compared to Microsoft's System Center based cloud solution makes CUIC more attractive to VMware customers, or simply because no one is actually using Hyper-V in a cloud environment. It's hard to say.

Now CUIC may suit many companies, but what happens if you want to modify or add to it so that it can integrate with your corporate (or service provider) dashboards and reports, or enable it to talk to your billing software, for example? Until now, you'd have been out of luck.

But to make it possible, Cloupia yesterday unveiled what it's calling Open Automation for Clouds (OAC). It's a mix of evaluation software, an SDK, documentation and training, all designed to allow customers (or partners) to build their own modules on top of CUIC.

It's a sensible idea for Cloupia to make CUIC as flexible and open as possible, and if it paves the way for a healthy plug-in ecosystem then everyone benefits. That's a path Krishnamsetty hinted at, saying that while OAC is free for CUIC customers, Cloupia intends to charge for it when it comes to third-party developers.

Which brings us back to Cloupia. Its CloudGenie product is impressive, and CUIC is even more so. A little bird tells me that the company will have some more cloud products to unveil in the next few weeks. The company is going places, so, like it or not, Cloupia is a name that we might all just have to get used to.

Paul Rubens is a journalist based in Marlow on Thames, England. He has been programming, tinkering and generally sitting in front of computer screens since his first encounter with a DEC PDP-11 in 1979.

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