Skytap Releases Advanced Cloud Networking Features
In many ways, the weakest link in cloud computing is the network. No matter how powerful your cloud hardware and software are, they’re useless without a secure and flexible network to hold the different pieces of the cloud together. That’s why it’s unsurprising to see cloud vendors such as Skytap, which has introduced new multi-VPN functionality for its hybrid cloud services, working on next-generation networking solutions for the cloud.
Skytap, which was founded in 2006 (and adopted its current name in 2008), counts about 225 enterprise customers ranging in size from Fortune 500 organizations to smaller companies of a few hundred employees each. They also represent a wide swath of different types of businesses, according to to Brett Goodwin, Skytap’s vice president of Marketing & Business Development.
Skytayp’s main product, Skytap Cloud, was introduced in 2008, at the beginning of the cloud-computing revolution. Since then, the company has focused on providing “enterprises as well as midmarket companies a fast and secure way to create flexible computing environments in the cloud,” said Goodwin, who outlined Skytap’s newest features in a recent phone interview.
Skytap Cloud has offered a single VPN (Virtual Private Network) solution since 2011. Now, the product goes further by allowing users to create multiple VPNs through a new feature called Skytap AutoNetworks. Through the platform’s Web interface, customers can implement many different VPNs to connect multiple devices within the same cloud.
AutoNetworks handles all of the back-end configuration for the VPNs, including DHCP and DNS. In addition, traffic over the VPNs is secured via IPsec. The VPNs use private address ranges by default, but users can configure public-facing addresses if desired.
The feature has many potential applications in the real world, especially in the hybrid cloud environments to which Skytap caters. Companies with servers in different physical locations can use AutoNetworks to make those servers appear to operate as part of the same subnet, for instance. Similarly, staff, such as traveling salespeople, who need to access cloud resources from different locations can do so more easily via a VPN that eliminates the need to configure network settings individually at each place.
Beyond the realm of networking, Skytap introduced a second new feature that provides greater granularity for scheduling tasks within the cloud. It allows IT admins to configure sets of tasks ahead of time, with the option of performing them on a recurring basis, and provides notifications upon the tasks’ completion. It promises to be useful for automating repetitive tasks and taking advantage of off-peak hours to run resource-intensive jobs.
Skytap developed the feature because scheduling granularity was “one of our top requested features” from customers, Goodwin said. The feature also represents functionality that’s relatively novel in the world of the cloud, where the development of user-friendly tools for automating tasks hasn’t kept pace with the increasingly complex software infrastructures that make automation so useful. But that’s likely to change as vendors like Skytap continue working on solutions that allow enterprises to take advantage of the power of the cloud in a flexible, secure and usable way.