The term cloud computing immediately evokes services that high profile companies like Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Rackspace or Salesforce.com offer to their customers. This is what we call the public cloud, allowing you to rent computing capacity and storage, and an ever-expanding range of services and business applications. Prices are attractive and services are available on request.
Rackspace, a major seller of cloud services, has just introduced its Open Cloud platform based on OpenStack. The new cloud services allow customers to setup their own private clouds and data center using OpenStack software.
Amazon has their own offering called Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (VPC), which represents a choice to business technology managers to scale the internal IT infrastructure in a gradual way to meet high demands.
The Amazon VPC is basically an extension of Amazon Elastic Computing Cloud (Amazon EC2), which originally allows businesses and individuals renting space in the hundreds of thousands of servers of Amazon, to deploy applications that scale in an automated manner according to the resources they need (more CPU, more storage, more concurrent connections, etc.).
However, Amazon along with Google doesn’t provide customers to build private clouds. It is difficult to write down some bullet points as why these companies are yet to offer these services.
Google says all their cloud hosting data are on their public cloud servers as it provides most efficient way to do things.
Amazon says in a private model, companies must still have servers and data space, which requires a fixed initial investment. Capacity is limited by the space available to the infrastructure owned, and it is not truly elastic. Managing a large-scale infrastructure with high availability requires a trained and motivated staff as well as the attention of managers.
“The reality is when you really dig into the details of these private or internal clouds they are usually a very expensive fixed cost, private installation of infrastructure which lack all the key benefits of the cloud,” says Amazon Chief Technology Officer, Werner Vogels.
For many companies, the integration of a private model cloud in their IT infrastructure is a multi-year process that requires careful strategic planning. Companies must also have a reliable storage with backup solution. Given the average rates of failure inherent to any device or any single storage array, this goes beyond RAID solutions.
Beyond backup and reliable network infrastructure, they must rely on a proven, operational, for disaster recovery. The company must include both the cost and complexity of the redundancy in the estimation of the deployment.
But despite some drawbacks, there are some benefits of hosting your own cloud services such as security, privacy and reliability. Some Fortune 500 companies moved to private clouds for software development and testing purposes as they want control of the systems that hold their data.
“The SaaS software market seems to be splitting into two clear segments: those vendors whose software only runs on their own systems, and those who let the customer choose where the apps run and how the data is stored,” says Brian Behlendorf, chief technology officer with the World Economic Forum.
Jason Pressman, a managing director with Shasta Ventures, a venture capital firm based in Menlo Park, Calif. thinks that Google and Amazon will find better ways to lend data to companies that want control of their own data and he thinks the solution lies on the public cloud.
“I think over time these security concerns; these vendor lock-in concerns will all be solved,” Pressman says. “Once those problems are solved I think it just makes more sense for people to use public cloud.”