Ravello helps shift software development and testing to public cloud

Cloud virtualization startup brings application portability at an hourly rate

VMworld Europe is just around the corner for the individuals lucky enough to travel to Barcelona this year. It's only been a month since the world's largest virtualization trade show concluded its business in San Francisco, and after speaking with dozens of vendors on the expo floor in the Moscone Center, there is still so much to cover and discuss from that show.

One company that caught my eye both before and during VMworld is a startup called Ravello Systems. This company launched out of the gate with a great pedigree and is manned by individuals who were responsible for building Qumranet, the company behind the KVM hypervisor. Ravello first unmasked itself in 2012, then later announced a $26 million funding round in February of this year. During that time, the company had been promoting its concept of a "cloud hypervisor" among select customers as part of an ongoing beta program. But that beta period has come and gone, and the company recently announced its product is now ready for prime time and general consumption.

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Ravello has created a Cloud Application Hypervisor that is built with a new high-performance nested hypervisor technology called HVX. With this technology, the company is taking the concept of virtualization in a new direction. Unlike VMware's technology which was originally designed for on-premise static servers, Ravello is instead focusing its early efforts on testing enterprise applications in dynamic cloud environments.

The company's stated goal has been to deliver an end-to-end system that makes development and test of existing on-premise applications "ridiculously easy." Its mantra has been the same: Always test on replicas of production and never run out of capacity.

To make this possible, Ravello has abstracted away the differences in compute, networking, and storage across different clouds. It believes the auto-selection of clouds, the single account, and the single billing feature are an inherent part of making the user experience seamless.

How does it do this?

The company's cloud application hypervisor encapsulates multi-VM applications along with its entire environment, including the VMs, networking, storage, and more, so that enterprises can run any application in any cloud without making any changes.

Remember, a typical hypervisor like VMware or KVM is designed to run on a physical server, but HVX is designed to run inside a virtual machine. Ravello analyzes the application and normalizes it so that it's abstracted from the virtual machine it's running on. By abstracting the application from the underlying VM that it's running on, the application becomes more portable. At the end of the day, the application no longer knows or cares whether it's running on VMware vSphere or on open source KVM.

"Our unique technology allows us to spin up exact replicas of complex existing VMware or KVM workloads, completely unmodified in any leading public cloud, Navin Thadani, senior VP of products at Ravello Systems, told InfoWorld. "We've established some great partnerships with public cloud providers, including AWS, HP Cloud, and Rackspace. By utilizing these cloud providers, we're ultimately solving the capacity issue and are able to allow enterprise developers to do continuous testing without resource contention."

Ravello solves a critical limitation for developers, so they can always develop and test on replicas of production and never run out of capacity.

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