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7/7/2011
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SMB Cloud Choices Expanding

OS33, Cloupia partner to make it easier for managed service providers to cater to SMBs.

OS33, an IT-as-a-service delivery platform for managed service providers (MSPs), has partnered with Cloupia, a cloud automation and management software provider, to allow MSPs to better define and provision virtual environments. The partnership is bound to breed an ecosystem of MSPs that can offer IT-as-a-service, platform-based solutions to small and midsize businesses (SMBs).

In a press release, OS33 stated that "the OS33 Virtual Datacenter Controller (VDC), powered by Cloupia, is a revolutionary new component of the OS33 Platform, which helps service providers overcome today's limited ability to provision infrastructure resources on the fly."

OS33 pushing enhanced cloud services into the MSP market is a sign of the times, one that shows how the cloud is beginning to become all-inclusive for IT needs--a trend that spells change for IT managers looking to leverage the cloud and perhaps rethink their data center and support strategies.

Of course, OS33 isn't the only player in this game--there are numerous large hosts looking to provide IT services in the cloud to a growing SMB market. Hosts such as RackSpace, Zenith Infotech, CloudShare, and others are offering cloud-based IT solutions, where the core IT infrastructure is shifted into the cloud.

That brings up a conundrum for the typical IT manager, SMB operator, and even end users--the question becomes should I entrust my IT operations to a third party? Vendors such as OS33 (and their MSP partners) offer up all sorts of arguments and case studies as to why services from the cloud are superior to self-hosted or on-site solutions.

Most claim an immediate cost savings, simply because the initial upfront expense of onsite hardware and software is eliminated. Other claims include improved service from 24x7 support personnel, instant scalability, as well as reduced downtime. What's more, cloud-based IT can also augment disaster recovery and business continuity solutions.

Nevertheless, security and data ownership concerns still permeate the cloud discussion; add to that compliance and privacy concerns, and cloud-based solutions might not seem as appealing anymore. Picking which path to follow--in-house IT or cloud-based services--is a complicated decision, one that requires balancing the pros and cons, as well as judging the viability of the provider.

Determining that viability becomes even more complex with hosts such as OS33 selling their services via MSPs that can rebrand the offering. In other words, you may be able to vet the viability of the MSP, but not who the MSP relies on for the services.

Those concerns aside, OS33 is hoping that their new offering will accelerate the adoption of cloud-based technologies, delivered via a channel, in this case MSPs. Jacob Kazakevich, OS33 president, said in a statement: "None of our competitors have a unified platform equally capable of provisioning every aspect of cloud-based IT from a single interface. Powered by Cloupia's technology, our Virtual Datacenter Controller brings us closer to our vision of providing MSPs with a turnkey, unified cloud-service platform where they can deploy virtual server resources, applications, companies, users, and more, all on the fly, all in the cloud, all in matter of minutes."

The company claims that MSPs using OS33 VDC can:

-- Instantly deploy virtual server resources using a self-service provisioning portal and make them available to be converted into user-facing IT assets and presented to the end users on their webtops (Web-based desktops).

-- Use the hypervisor-agnostic capabilities of OS33 VDC to allow service providers to utilize OS33's infrastructure-as-a-service IaaS Cloud, providers' own infrastructure, a public cloud, or to mix and match based on client needs, creating a unified solution controlled from a single pane of glass.

-- Enable clients to peer into the infrastructure backend to track utilization and monitor resources.

-- Integrate with existing infrastructure management systems' policies and processes.

Whether or not OS33's new offerings prove to be a game changer is still yet to be seen. Nevertheless, the company seems to be highlighting the possibilities of the cloud and will surely spark competitors to come up with alternatives that offer a plethora of services in the cloud.

You can't afford to keep operating without redundancy for critical systems--but business units must prioritize before IT begins implementation. Also in the new, all-digital InformationWeek SMB supplement: Avoid the direct-attached storage trap. Download it now. (Free registration required.)

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