A Cloud Mashup is Greater Than the Sum of its Parts

With Cloud Computing being offered by a variety of vendors to solve a range of problems, now more than ever it is very easy to combine clouds to solve your unique problems. Attempting to shoe horn your needs into one particular cloud offering that happens to solve one problem well and trying to apply it for other areas seem to almost always lead to troubles. However, thinking about combining the clouds using open standards and retaining the flexibility of your own environment when adopting cloud technology can be compelling from both a cost and time savings perspective.

At Skytap we are proud of the the efficiencies and cost savings we deliver to our customers for many real world use cases from Application Development and Test to Training, to Hybrid Cloud configurations. Yet even within our own company we utilize other vendor solutions so that we can leverage both our strengths as well as the strengths of others. This is one of many values cloud computing brings to the table. 

The concept of using multiple cloud vendors became apparent to me in recent weeks while developing an automation site utilizing the Skytap REST based API. Our customer wanted to build dynamic networks of virtual machines for self-paced student training. This was easy because this is something Skytap excels at. Our customer also wanted tie it to an e-commerce site with custom registration and check-out capabilities. Complicating the matter was the desire to provide a payment system and the related compliance issues. 

By leveraging technologies from both Heroku and Google Checkout, I was able to compliment and augment my Skytap Cloud environment. Heroku excels at offering a rapid runtime environment for Ruby on Rails applications while Google Apps offers a PCI compliant payment system and of course Skytap’s rock solid solution for delivering hands-on training. By building a simple application using RoR hosted on Heroku, I was able to create a new application that allows students to sign up for Windows based training classes and allow them to pay via Google Checkout. Once the class is selected and paid for, the RoR application uses the Skytap REST APIs to automatically build a new classroom within Skytap and at the same time notifies the student of the remote connection details. 

Within a matter of a few hours instead of several days to weeks, our customer was able to offer to their students their own training environments built in real time.  Needless to say our customer is thrilled. The students are excited about the ease of use and the hands on experience as well. And the best part is, I didn’t have to bother with registration, payment and notification concerns for myself or bother IT staff with ongoing maintenance. I also didn’t have to change or compromise my training environment to fit into someone else’s vision of what cloud computing should be. In this instance the cloud is mine to shape how I want and I am free to manage it as much or as little as I wish. 

– Tony Williams, Cloud Solutions Architect / Skytap

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