CloudSwing allows you to assemble open-source cloud stacks

OpenLogic's service will go up against offerings from Red Hat and VMware

Developers and enterprise IT shops will soon have another option for PaaS (platform as a service) in the form of CloudSwing, an upcoming offering from OpenLogic that builds on its core business of providing technical support for open-source software.

CloudSwing customers can use the platform to assemble software stacks of both open-source and commercial products for use on cloud infrastructure services such as Amazon EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud).

They will gain more flexibility compared to commercial PaaS offerings such as Microsoft's Azure, which limit their ability to choose various components within the stack, said Kim Weins, senior vice president of marketing.

A trial edition of CloudSwing is now in private beta. It will be followed by a DevTest version with more features later this year. A Production Edition is set for release in early 2012, according to Weins.

While CloudSwing will feature a set of prebuilt "Smart Stacks," a set of Web-based tools will help developers easily swap individual parts in and out, according to OpenLogic.

CloudSwing stacks will be organized through a centralized portal that gives customers access to management tools for each component in one place. The service will also provide component-level monitoring capabilities that go beyond the CPU and memory usage metrics that public clouds typically provide.

Initially, OpenLogic is providing support for CloudSwing on Amazon's EC2 but is planning to target Rackspace's cloud service next, along with private cloud scenarios, Weins said.

The trial edition is focused on getting a stack up and running quickly for prototyping purposes, Weins said. "That's where a lot of enterprises are right now in cloud development."

One of CloudSwing's more novel aspects is a spending management function, which can track cloud-service-related costs across a number of projects.

OpenLogic's primary customers are large enterprises, where a great deal of experimentation with pay-as-you-go public cloud services is going on among various development groups and outsourced teams, she said. This is making it difficult for IT managers to track cloud-related costs across those many small projects, Weins added.

CloudSwing takes in usage data directly from EC2 and collects it in one place. Managers can also place spending thresholds on projects, making the system send out alerts when the limits are reached, according to Weins. "We think this will be very attractive."

CloudSwing will be sold via subscription and through hourly plans, but pricing hasn't been finalized, Weins said. Support subscriptions for the software stacks would be sold separately.

While CloudSwing isn't limited to open-source components, OpenLogic can only go so far in supporting commercial software elements in a given stack. "All of our customers have hybrid environments," Weins said. "We can't necessarily fix a bug in Oracle but can help you narrow it down and figure out whether it came from Oracle."

CloudSwing drew a measured response from 451 Group analyst Jay Lyman.

On one hand, it looks "fairly similar" to other open-source PaaS efforts, such as Red Hat's OpenShift and VMware's CloudFoundry, Lyman said. "But the spending management feature is fairly unique and interesting, particularly given customer pain around license and cost management in cloud computing."

Overall, it's hard to predict how the market will respond to offerings like CloudSwing, since as with many other PaaS announcements, "much of the product is yet to come," Lyman added.

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