RightScale CEO: We enable the enterprise cloud

Michael Crandell, CEO of RightScale, sees new opportunities ahead for IT shops that wish to run mission-critical apps on cloud infrastructure

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Dineley: Is that your main value proposition? I would guess that most of your customers are running lots of servers, and they're running them for production purposes.

Crandell: Correct.

Dineley: Should I understand the value proposition to be that RightScale brings production readiness to what's essentially been a development platform -- Amazon Web Services?

Crandell: Yes, that's a good way of putting it.

Dineley: Or is automation the bigger-picture value proposition?

Crandell: Well, the production-readiness you refer to we would call operational excellence -- performance, dealing with failures, and so on. Some customers are most interested in the governance aspect. Some are most interested in automation; they may be running huge fleets of servers.

We've built a lot of value. I think we have by far the most servers launched that I've seen published figures for on the Amazon cloud. You've hit it right on. It's not just dev and test. People come to us when they want to run a business, a mission-critical app.

Knorr: And we're not merely talking about those who want to deploy on Amazon.

Crandell: Absolutely not. Here's the situation today as I see it: Really compelling value among these platforms, but no clear single winner. Of course, Amazon is a winner. But one thing that's happening is that, through this summer, we're going to see some new public megaclouds on the horizon.

On that note I'm sure you know, because it has leaked, that Microsoft is entering the IaaS business. They're going right after Amazon. 

Knorr: They've been building out that infrastructure for a long time.

Crandell: They know how to operate global, high-level data centers.

Dineley: Are you going to partner with them?

Crandell: We are partnering with them. We have the Azure PaaS (platform as a service) and they're bringing out IaaS -- and they have on-premise software, which is a differentiator from Amazon's public-only approach. Also, they know how to sell to enterprise customers and they have a lot of them already. That has not been part of Amazon's DNA, historically.

Knorr: Who else are you supporting? Are you looking at OpenStack?

Crandell: We do look at OpenStack. OpenStack has been a little more momentum than implementation up until recently. HP has launched on it; I think they've probably worked some of the kinks out of operating OpenStack at scale. They've contributed a lot to the code. And of course Rackspace has adopted it.

Citrix CloudStack is actually installed a lot, both in service providers and larger companies. Eucalyptus was first and has a lot of momentum. That's why we chose those three. On the cloud front, Amazon has been the big daddy, but Rackspace and SoftLayer are certainly meaningful businesses. Our philosophy is to be Switzerland, to be on the customer's side so the customer can choose among important options.

This article, "RightScale CEO: We enable the enterprise cloud," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Eric Knorr's Modernizing IT blog, and for the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld on Twitter.

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