Opening Up the Private Cloud

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    Network Evolution Key to Driving Cloud Expansion

    The enterprise has long been more bullish on the private cloud than the cloud industry itself. It only makes sense, after all, that those who make a living selling cloud services would want to discourage potential customers from developing their own cloud infrastructure.

    Lately, however, the private cloud is emerging not as a threat to cloud providers, but an opportunity. Enterprises with private clouds are more apt to reach out to their public cloud brethren for added support, which at least produces a reasonably steady revenue stream if not a wholesale conversion of data infrastructure to a cloud-based utility footing.

    To do that, however, both the enterprise and the cloud provider need to foster as much common ground between their respective platforms as possible, which is why open source solutions like OpenStack and Eucalyptus are gaining such strength.

    Many of the established platform providers now employ OpenStack liberally throughout their cloud portfolios. HP, for one, just announced a $1 billion endeavor to implement its Cloud Foundry PaaS system and other tools under OpenStack editions, all to be branded under the Helion label. The move comes in the wake of Dell, IBM, Cisco and, naturally, Red Hat placing a wide range of systems and services on OpenStack, thereby fostering a high degree of compatibility across public, private and hybrid architectures.

    OpenStack itself is on a course to become more enterprise-friendly as well. The latest Icehouse release, for example, offers things like live upgrades, which eliminate the need to shut the entire environment down with each new version, and a more federated identity management scheme that provides single-ID log-in across multiple nodes. As well, new object storage features provide improved data sync and replication management, plus added database support for popular platforms like MySQL, MongoDB and Cassandra.

    Meanwhile, Eucalyptus is out with a new version (4.0) that is said to address a number of issues that the enterprise encounters when building private clouds. For one, it offers support for scale-out storage using either open source tools or commercial implementations of the S3 interface, making it easier to mount large-scale operations. Also, a new edge networking component allows the platform to integrate more easily into legacy environments, plus it offers new load balancing features designed to maintain peak performance for large numbers of concurrent users.

    Forbes’ Ben Kepes says that Eucalyptus has traditionally been caught between a rock and hard place when it comes to building support for the private cloud. As a major support of the Amazon public cloud, the company’s job of selling itself to the enterprise becomes harder every time another Amazon executive touts the benefits of an all-public infrastructure. But that rhetoric has softened a bit lately as the viability of hybrid infrastructure gains stature in enterprise circles.

    Indeed, in somewhat of an ironic twist, support for the private cloud is gaining not because the enterprise sees it as a safer or more manageable version of the public cloud, but because it provides a vital platform in the drive to build data architectures that are flexible and scalable while offering high levels of security and control.

    In this way, the enterprise is no longer bound by the vagaries of any one set of resources or architectural construct, but can begin to provision infrastructure according to the needs of users and applications. And through this, the private cloud helps productivity become a factor of individual drive and ambition, rather than whatever resources happen to be available at any given time.

    Arthur Cole
    Arthur Cole
    With more than 20 years of experience in technology journalism, Arthur has written on the rise of everything from the first digital video editing platforms to virtualization, advanced cloud architectures and the Internet of Things. He is a regular contributor to IT Business Edge and Enterprise Networking Planet and provides blog posts and other web content to numerous company web sites in the high-tech and data communications industries.

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