In building private cloud computing platforms, most IT organizations lack the ability to effectively use the infrastructure at hand. That's why, if they can afford it, many IT organizations are thinking about buying new.
To that end, Cisco, IBM, Dell and Hewlett-Packard are locked in a battle to provide turnkey infrastructure for setting up private cloud computing platforms. HP just upped the ante with the launch of HP CloudStart, which promises to deploy HP BladeSystem Matrix servers and storage, complete with the virtual machine software and the applications a customer wants deployed, in less than 30 days.
CloudStart is clearly a swipe at Vblocks, a set of turnkey cloud computing platforms developed by Cisco in partnership with EMC and its VMware subsidiary. According to Alan Wilson, vice president for HP technology services' infrastructure practice, HP is redefining the term "turnkey" by including everything from the servers through the applications in the CloudStart program.
That application-centric approach, says Wilson, also differentiates HP from Cisco in cloud offerings. Cisco has opted to take what Wilson calls a network-centric approach to cloud computing, while HP is embraced application-centric that includes tools to manage the entire private cloud computing stack. For example, the HP approach to CloudStart includes CloudMaps for deploying VMware, Oracle, Microsoft and SAP software in addition to tools for metering application use and allowing IT organizations to charge back internal customers based on usage. The result, says Wilson, is that HP intends to provide customers with private cloud computing platforms that they can deploy at the push of a button.
The rise of shared IT infrastructure represents of significant challenge for most IT organizations, making management an issue. In an age where most customers are still struggling with mastering concepts associated with specifications such as the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL), private cloud computing represents a major leap forward in sophistication of IT management. How each IT organization ultimately chooses to get there is still very much open for debate, given most companies economic limitations.
But for those that can afford to make that leap with turnkey platforms such as CloudStart, the advantages of private cloud computing platforms over existing IT infrastructure can be pretty compelling.