Today, we got the chance to sit down with Aprimo, an on-demand marketing automation company that has built their software business around scaling their own cloud infrastructure with VMware vCenter. Aprimo has optimized its offerings to scale with customer growth and leverage best-in-class hardware to match innovation in the software layers it develops.

In this discussion, we found less need for discussing private vs. public cloud. Instead, we found more focus on performance and speed-to-market as key drivers for moving a virtualization strategy into personal cloud infrastructure reality.

The story of Aprimo starts with virtualization - and has led to the company defining the boundaries of its cloud offering and product architecture around the benefits of scaling resources on demand.

Aprimo uses a Microsoft .Net three-tier architecture with MSSQL in the back-end. All of the three tiers (front-end, business logic, database) run in virtual containers that are monitored with vCenter.

Performance is the question that Aprimo studied when bringing vendors on board. The company has relationships with EMC, Cisco, and HP for the three key parts of the technology stack.

vCenter joins these offerings together and offers the company quick response to new customer requests. Like many business, marketing can come in waves and this architecture is designed to scale around the unknown and to be agile enough to support the marketing calendar.

Here is a diagram showing the core services VMware vCenter is focused on:

We had the chance to explore the customer experience of build-your-own-cloud with John Gilmartin, Director of Product Marketing at VMware. We asked him if VMware sells clouds, or if instead its tool build clouds.

What we found is that it is a bit of both. Like a data center itself, or a complex application, building your own cloud can be a multi-faceted event. Customers are using vCenter as a building block to manage the resources and enabling automation around business processes.

By thinking of automation as the line in the sand between virtualization and cloud, we can easily see how connecting business processes focuses on the best place in harnessing on-demand resources for business benefit.

Some of the areas of focus we the Aprimo team took on as the company to optimize its virtual resources into its cloud.

  • Design and optimization of resource pools
  • Database tier optimization and support new dynamic customer scaling
  • Designing for performance with vendor evaluations
  • Leveraging best practices from VMware on tuning and finding bottlenecks
  • Processes for spinning up new users automatically across all resources

Out of these focus areas, we found database scaling the most interesting to consider. It seems clear that as build-your-own-clouds grow, database performance, concurrency, and process integration are ripe for further optimization.

What we learned from Aprimo and VMware vCenter is that launching a cloud infrastructure is a combination of virtualizing computing resources and designing the automation of the right business and technical processes. Reaching the stage of an effective cloud depends on how the team thinks about connecting software, sales, and infrastructure together as a process.

Making a commitment to your own cloud can bring a company together - from sales manager to developer. This join can position an organization to win customers and grow the business due to an increase in the end to end agility of the organization.

Is your business ready to cook up a cloud recipe of your own?