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Federated cloud redux with Hexagrid

Federated clouds are making more sense for cloud providers looking to connect their own data centers, versus promoting strategic partnerships and crossovers with other providers.

Virtualization automation and cloud platform software maker Hexagrid has disclosed that a partner, Euro hoster Pourprio, is in talks with major European and Middle East telecoms to fire up 12 cloud computing installations in various locations

These installations would be centrally managed and seamless for Pourprio and customers alike, presumably, so a customer operating in France, say, could instantly provision virtual infrastructure in Dubai to meet local demand if that become necessary.

This kind of thing highlights the command and control functionality of a cloud computing environment over traditional data center automation and virtualization. While nothing has happened yet, Pourprio may well be able to operate up to a dozen separate locations as if they were in one data center (except for the pesky "plugging stuff in" part, of course). With a cloud environment, there is so much emphasis on automating every process and management need into a unified front, connecting disparate locations together becomes an exercise for the background.

This idea of federated clouds isn't new; Canadian platformer Enomaly pitched this idea too, but Enomaly was promoting strategic partnerships and crossovers between providers. If a customer wanted to burst out of your cloud into another one in a different region, two Enomaly-powered environments could be linked up and the billing sorted out between them.

Having the ability to put [the cloud] anywhere is also attractive.

Pourprio's idea of using a platform to connect its own data centers may prove more attractive than giving customers easy access to competitors. Just…throwin' that out there.

The appeal of Hexagrid and Pourprio
Hexagrid is a three-year-old start up founded by Suresh Mandava, who called Hexagrid’s first product the "Grid Enabled Virtualized Computing Environment," which the company shortened to "cloud" when the hype wagon really started rolling in 2009. Like many platforms, it seems to have realized where its bread is buttered and has focused on adding service-provider friendly features.

VxDatacenter is KVM based, which makes it a bit of an outlier in the current cloud platform market. It has a full complement of the usual features of Infrastructure as a Service(IaaS) platforms; it automates, manages and provisions virtual machines running on commodity hardware through a Web portal or API. It has monitoring and virtual networking management baked in and can manage network-attached storage (NAS). It can be whiteboxed fairly easily, and there's a two-tiered management system that gives operators full control over all resources and users limited abilities to administer their own virtual environments.

Like most of the cloud platform market, however, Hexagrid is a small company with a few customers, and, also like all of these platform products, it probably works great up to a certain scale of some thousands of servers but runs into all kinds of knotty problems operating at massive scale.

Pourprio is a small consulting and hosting business based in France that offers the usual range of infrastructure services and consulting. It's currently hosts with Euclyde in Nice and launched its Dynamic Data Center service there (presumably that's Hexagrid rebranded) in March. So it's a good fit in size and market position to take flyer on Hexagrid; and the opportunity to simply stamp out copies of its data center deployment anywhere it can find rackspace must look pretty good too.

Just as cloud computing in general has meant easier access to infrastructure for end users and enterprise, recent years have seen large floor space operators making it easier and easier to put in small installations that don’t require risky capital outlay. Even high-end facilities like Equinix are open to putting in a cabinet or two. The risk is therefore lower for providers, since cloud platforms are highly standardized, they can easily be expanded or duplicated as demand grows.

This, after all, is one of the promises of cloud computing: a kind of organic, easy, adaptable scale that can be bought in when needed, very quickly and very transparently. Having the ability to put it anywhere is also attractive. "Go where the customers are" right?

Carl Brooks is the Senior Technology Writer for Contact him at

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