Multiple Paths to Private Cloud Computing

Michael Vizard
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When it comes to private cloud computing there are many paths to consider, all of which bring various benefits to the IT organization.

The first option that comes to mind when most people think of a private cloud today is to build an IT environment on shared IT infrastructure that runs on premise. There are two ways of going about this. The first is to master the intricacies of virtualization in order to build the system yourself or you can acquire one of several new platforms that allow you to basically install a complete private cloud.

One example of such an offering is the Nimbula, which, this week, at the 2010 Gartner Data Center Conference announced a public beta of Nimbula Director, an implementation of its Cloud Operating System technology designed specifically for IT organizations that want to automate the process of setting up a private cloud.

According to Reza Malekzadeh, Nimbula vice president of marketing, the Nimbula Director gives IT organizations a turnkey multi-tenant platform for standing up a private cloud that comes with all the built-in security required to be deployed on a Xen or KVM hypervisor. It also includes a controller to dynamically integrate all the server, storage and networking components.

There are other turnkey platforms for building private clouds based on a stack of software from companies such as Eucalyptus, WSO2, Microsoft and IBM. But Malekzadeh says that the Nimbula Cloud Operating System, which was developed by the original team that developed Amazon's cloud computing service, is specifically optimized around automating most of the private cloud provisioning process.

The Nimbula Director also includes all the management tools and APIs needed to manage instances of private cloud that might be deployed on premise or at a hosting service, said Malekzadeh.

There are, of course, other ways to build a private cloud. Unisys, for example, will launch today a Hosted Secure Private Cloud Solution. According to Sam Gross, Unisys vice president for global IT outsourcing solutions, this offering gives IT organizations all the benefit of a private cloud that they can remotely manage as if it was their own virtual data center. What makes the Unisys approach different, he said, is that rather than being dependent on shared infrastructure, Unisys runs each private cloud in isolation using mainframe class technologies. This approach eliminates any security concerns that customers might have about shared infrastructure while still creating a secure IT environment that is easier to manage.

Gross says that he expects to see a number of types of private clouds develop over time, ranging from on-premise deployments, versions that leverage shared infrastructure, to hosting environments that are managed in complete isolation.

The varied types of private cloud computing models is what is prompting Rackspace today to formally roll out Cloud Connect, a dedicated private network that customers can use to integrate private cloud computing deployments on the Rackspace cloud and their managed hosting environments.

According to Rackspace CTO John Engates, customers are deploying mission-critical applications on dedicated hosting environments, but need to integrate those systems with other applications running on shared infrastructure on the Rackspace cloud. Cloud Connect gives them a high-speed network that is dedicated to integrating applications across both environments. Rackspace today also launched Critical Sites, a new service designed to make sure that critical business applications are always available thanks to multiple layers of redundancy in the hosting environment.

Given all the variants of cloud computing, it remains to be seen whether the term "cloud computing" will hold up against the test of time. But one thing that is for certain is that the data center is rapidly becoming a virtual entity, and as such, it can be deployed almost anywhere.

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