Rightscale, the leading cloud management vendor, today announced support for Windows based applications on the cloud. This puts the support for Windows applications on par with Linux based ones, making cloud automation, management and portability for Windows instances as easy as Linux instances. This also helps Rightscale target organizations using Windows servers for their IT needs.

The cloud management marketplace is pretty competitive but Rightscale is on the top with many high profile clients like Zynga, Sling, etc.. Their cloud management platform removes the complexity out of managing cloud infrastructure services and, also, increases the agility. Their preconfigured ServerTemplates and RightImages helps their customers  cut down on the deployment times from days and weeks to just minutes. Rightscale platform enables a wide variety of application scenarios and a broad range of use cases. Some of the popular use cases include
  • Highly scalable websites – Imagine getting to the top of Digg or getting slashdotted. You will need an easy way to scale your website without any downtime. Rightscale is a perfect platform to manage such websites needing immediate scaling
  • Grid Computing – Using cloud, it is possible to use large number of server instances to easily spread workloads to large number of instances in order to get faster results. If you ask New York Times, they will talk about how they used large number of Amazon EC2 instances to quickly achieve the results they needed. Grid computing is particularly handy in areas such as scientific research, media transcoding, etc.. Rightscale management platform makes managing such grids with large cloud server instances easy
  • Social Gaming – Ask the facebook app developers and social game developers about how their need to scale up resources as their apps get traction all of a sudden. Rightscale platform is well suited to manage their needs. Ask the folks at Animoto how they managed the sudden increase in demand once they went viral after their launch. They use Rightscale to manage their resources
There are many other use cases but I just listed out three to highlight the utility of Rightscale platform in many different scenarios. 
So far, only Linux applications could take advantage of the rich feature set of the Rightscale platform. With this announcement, Windows servers can also be dynamically configured without user interaction, enabling true automation and orchestration. RightScale’s rules-based automation integrates directly with Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI) and other custom monitoring tools to offer this level of automation. Unlike the Linux server instances, there are some difficulties associated with launching and running Windows applications, especially related to portability and automation. But, Rightscale has taken pains to ease out most of the challenges and users can easily launch Windows instances that can be easily automated, easily ported across multiple clouds and with a significant reduction in the number of images that are needed to be maintained.
At present, Rightscale supports the following Windows Images
  • Windows 2003 /2008 across on i386 and x64 architectures
  • Windows w/SQLServer Express 2003 /2008 across across i386 and x64 architectures
  • Windows w/SQLServer 2003 /2008 on x64 architecture
RightScale delivers numerous Windows-specific benefits, such as simplification of Windows code updates, new license keys, and patches. This greatly simplifies managing Windows instances on Amazon EC2, thereby, helping the Windows community wanting a good cloud management platform. Even though Rightscale-AWS combo can serve as an alternative to Microsoft’s Windows Azure offering, I am still not sure why users will prefer Rightscale-AWS combo over the Azure platform. It will be interesting to see the level of traction gained by non Microsoft cloud providers (and the cloud management providers) within the Windows community.
Update: The post initially claimed that they have eased out all the challenges related to Windows instances but I have since then modified the statement to “most of the challenges”. Sorry for the slip up.
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Krishnan Subramanian

Krish dons several avatars including entrepreneur in exile, analyst cum researcher, technology evangelist, blogger, ex-physicist, social/political commentator, etc.. My main focus is research and analysis on various high impact topics in the fields of Open Source, Cloud Computing and the interface between them. I also evangelize Open Source and Cloud Computing in various media outlets, blogs and other public forums. I offer strategic advise to both Cloud Computing and Open Source providers and, also, help other companies take advantage of Open Source and Cloud Computing. In my opinion, Open Source commoditized software and Cloud Computing commoditized computing resources. A combination of these two developments offers a strong competitive advantage to companies of all sizes and shapes. Due to various factors, including fear, the adoption of both Open Source and Cloud Computing are relatively slow in the business sector. So, I take it upon myself to clear any confusion in this regard and educate, enrich and advise users/customers to take advantage of the benefits offered by these technologies. I am also a managing partner in two consulting companies based in India. I blog about Open Source topics at http://open.krishworld.com and Cloud Computing related topics at http://www.cloudave.com.

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