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Skytap Adds Quota Management for Cloud Service

While the appeal of cloud services for application developers is that they provide access to testing infrastructure on the fly, it can be costly for those who don't apply appropriate policies.

To add predictability to its offering, Skytap Inc., a start up cloud provider targeted at application developers and testers, this week added new capabilities to its service aimed at mitigating the issue. The new features let development managers apply quotas and policies and create reports for charge-backs, among other things.

Skytap is a closely held company launched last year and funded by former Microsoft executive Brad Silverberg's Ignition Partners, Madrona Venture Group and Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos. It currently has 50 customers, according to company officials.

The Skytap Virtual Lab gives on-demand compute infrastructure for developers. The company released an API last fall to enable developers to use the service, which is targeted at letting developers test their code with production-level compute and network resources in the cloud, rather than setting up testing infrastructure in-house, which can be time-consuming and costly.

But while doing so in the cloud can eliminate those issues, it introduces new ones -- notably, the unpredictability of costs as customers are billed on a usage basis. "One of the big reasons they are coming to Skytap is to really reduce the cost of their labs," said Steve Brodie, Skytap's chief products officer. Customers pay anywhere from $500 a month to $10,000 a month depending on usage, Brodie said.

One of Skytap's customers is WildBlue Communications, which provides satellite-based Internet access in rural locations. CIO Mike Casullo said he signed on to Skytap because the cost and time associated with setting up servers has become unfeasible, he said.

"We've been given a lot of major tasks and our biggest delay has always been having ample environments available to us, primarily for test and development," Casullo said. "I had to wait for system administrators to build these environments -- not only build them but also refresh them [and] handle the environmental refreshes in preparation for future projects."

Casullo started using Skytap last year, primarily for Java and .NET development and testing. "It gives us a better metric as far as getting these projects completed quicker, saving time and reducing the cost of that software development," he said.

In addition to providing reporting, transaction-level auditing and quota management, the service now offers user access control and the ability to share virtual machines (VMs) and data based on pre-defined user access rules. Managers can now also determine CPU and memory policies at the VM level.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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