Selecting a Private Cloud Vendor

When considering adopting Cloud Computing, I hear many organisations express a strong preference for private clouds. Sometimes this is a rational view based on strict business rules for example to meet regulatory and audit requirements. Often, the preference is an emotional judgement based on the fact that a public cloud appears to be ‘less secure’.  What is clear is that private clouds have a significant role to play for a large number of organisations both now and in the near future.

Any organisation wishing to implement a private cloud has a large choice of both commercial and open source software to choose from. Consider the open source world and there are many strong offerings such as :

These are just a sample of the open source products that are available. It is interesting to consider the driving forces behind these products. OpenStack has RackSpace and Nasa amongst others, CloudStack has Citrix, and Eucalyptus has Eucalyptus Systems. All have commercial organisations pushing the development as well as the traditional open source contributors.

It was interesting to hear last week that Eucalyptus Systems announced an oversubscribed $30 million Series C funding. This means that Eucalyptus has, to date, raised $55 million in capital to drive innovation, sales and customer support. Eucalyptus have over recent months announced partnerships and agreements with a number of organisations including Amazon, Wipro Infotech and CETC32. The latter two enable Eucalyptus to gain market share in India and China, both significant, if not the most significant IT markets in the world. This investment highlights the confidence markets have both in private cloud computing as well as Eucalyptus as a leading product.

All three of the above private cloud offerings provide rich Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) platforms. Making a choice of which private cloud vendor to use is an extremely difficult decision. Many questions such as what are the core services, which hypervisors are supported, what storage mechanisms, account and administration services, support for high availability, integration with public clouds–these are just some of the questions that need to be considered and answered.

I believe that the integration with public clouds is a key question. When considering moving to the cloud, many organisations look for a like-for-like replacement for existing infra-structure. This may be appropriate, but often they miss opportunities to work in better ways–different, more efficient and cost-effective ways–because many services available on public clouds are not available on private clouds. Examples include Amazon’s highly scalable, low latency DynamoDB product. Using a securely integrated hybrid cloud–private and public–could be a solution that offers the lowest risk, highest availability option for many organisations.

In summary, a private cloud is often the appropriate solution for an organisation, but in most cases only as part of a bigger cloud solution. A public cloud nearly always has a role to play too, which when integrated with the private cloud provides a hybrid solution. Selecting an appropriate private cloud is not an easy choice and has to be balanced over functionality required, maturity, level of available support as well as an ability to integrate with public clouds too. This is not an easy choice. If you are considering a private cloud and are not sure of the choices and factors that should influence your decision, both from a technical and business perspective, why not consider attending Learning Tree’s Cloud Computing Course, where, over three days we discuss both the technology and business aspects of cloud computing. You will also get hands-on exposure to the Eucalyptus private cloud.

Chris Czarnecki

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