Private Clouds for the Not-So-Large

Arthur Cole
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Private Versus Public Cloud Computing

A plethora of applications are being considered for the cloud, but it may take at least another year before cloud computing goes mainstream in the enterprise.

The march of advanced technologies from high-end systems and users to the low end is inevitable. And though for a while it seemed that virtualization and the cloud would break that mold, some of the latest releases suggest otherwise.

Both the cloud and virtualization work hand-in-hand to consolidate physical infrastructure and at the same time expand available resources. So it follows that as virtualization makes its way to the SMB market, the cloud would follow suit.

The latest generation of "cloud-in-a-box" platforms allows small organizations to quickly and easily configure their virtual server, storage, networking and management systems into a fully functioning private cloud, according to Infotech's Nelson Ruest. This provides the opportunity to simplify infrastructure and drive efficiency without having to fully re-educate IT staff on the intricacies of remote storage, hardware clustering, host server configuration and the like.

Organizations like OpenStack are hoping to garner more support among smaller organizations by simplifying the cloud-building process. The group's newest release, Diablo, features a simplified dashboard for monitoring cloud operations, as well as a new user-authentication system based on Microsoft Active Director and the LDAP system. There's also a new distributed scheduler that helps spread workloads across distant virtual machines.

Integrating OpenStack into legacy infrastructure can be easily accomplished through an automated deployment system from a startup called Piston Cloud Computing. By combining OpenStack with its PentOS operating system, users can build clouds on low-cost servers and other hardware while retaining full automation and system availability. Oh, and the whole thing is available on a USB stick that can boot from any laptop.

The need to deploy cloud architectures without major restructuring of existing infrastructure has emerged as a key element to large and small platforms alike. New additions to Symantec's Storage Foundation and Availability Management stack, for example, are designed to unite heterogeneous environments under a single management console. In the bargain, users gain automated node recovery and more powerful dedupe and compression engines to cut down storage footprints.

It may seem odd to some that smaller firms would want to deploy private clouds in the first place. SMB infrastructure usually isn't that complicated to begin with, and if it's cost savings you're after, the public cloud is certainly cheaper.

However, the same questions of security and reliability that plague larger firms are found at lower levels as well. Small businesses value their data just as much as the big guys.

It seems that private, and hybrid, clouds offer the same advantages of scalability and availability no matter how big you are.

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