Venturing onto the Private Cloud - Arthur Cole, IT Business Edge

June 4th 2010, Arthur Cole, IT Business Edge

For many enterprises, the private cloud is seen as a stepping-stone to the real action: wide area cloud services capable of handling ever-increasing data loads cheaply and more efficiently that current static infrastructures.

The thinking goes that with an internal cloud platform in hand, enterprise managers can get their feet wet with highly dynamic data environments in a controlled setting, entrusting critical data to public resources after a certain experience level is met. A recent report by the UK's BroadGroup predicts a dramatic uptick in private cloud deployments in the next few years, although this will ultimately lead to an increase in enterprise outsourcing as the market transitions first to hybrid cloud architectures and then full public clouds.

For the moment, however, it turns out that setting up a private cloud is no picnic. Aside from the potential impact on existing hardware and software configurations, there is the problem of managing what is proving to be a rather unwieldy new infrastructure.

So it's no surprise that we're seeing a new generation of cloud platforms promising simplified integration and advanced capabilities designed to take some of the sting out of cloud migration.

For example, a company call WSO2, which caters to Apache-based services, just launched a new open source cloud platform called Stratos that builds on the company's existing middleware and management stacks to provide for application deployment in private clouds. The system offers portal access and other resources that allow you to quickly get configured cloud applications up and running -- with all the right APIs to shift the apps around the cloud or to venture onto public services like Amazon's EC2.

This type of automation goes beyond simple platform-as-a-service offerings, according to IT analyst Dana Gardner, who discloses that WSO2 sponsors his BriefingsDirect podcasts. This type of application "fungibility" is a major step toward breaking the vendor lock-in problem that has kept many enterprises from fully embracing cloud technology. He adds, though, that while such openness is a major step in the right direction, additional standards will be needed if the cloud is to live up to its full potential.

Private clouds will also have to ramp up their compliance capabilities before enterprises can fully trust them. This is the tack that LogicWorks is taking with its new Compliant Cloud platform. Along with advanced features like PCI for e-commerce applications, the package provides SAS-70 and Sarbanes-Oxley modules, plus specialized solutions like HIPAA for health care firms and Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA) compliance for government projects.

Whoever coined the phrase "Change is never easy" probably had no idea how appropriate it would be for today's data center. But there is no other way to accommodate the rising data loads headed our way, save for massive build-outs of traditional data center infrastructure. And financially as well as logistically, that's just not in the cards right now.