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3/30/2012
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Terremark Offers Private Clouds For Enterprises

Verizon cloud unit uses technology from CloudSwitch acquisition to make it easy for reluctant cloud users to migrate in and out of infrastructure-as-a-service.

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Terremark is offering "single-tenant cloud computing," which until recently was known as dedicated hosted services--or some other name for outsourced system operation. But the times they are a changin' and the formerly distinct lines of service providers are blurring.

Terremark will offer Enterprise Cloud, Private Edition, a cookie-cutter copy of its public infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), except it has additional isolation and security features. Amazon Web Services, Rackspace Cloud, and the Savvis unit of CenturyLink have already launched versions of "private" cloud operation as an auxiliary service of the public IaaS.

Terremark, however, will bring an ease-of-migration capability, due to its acquisition last August of CloudSwitch. With CloudSwitch, Terremark customers will be able to take legacy workloads and move them--without re-engineering--into the Private Edition of Terremark's IaaS. If the user company becomes comfortable with its operation there, it will have the option of moving the workloads again, into the nearby public cloud infrastructure, to take advantage of lower hourly rates.

In Private Edition, "The compute and storage resources are dedicated, so the customer doesn't have to be concerned about sharing a server with a competitor," said Ellen Rubin, VP of Terremark and cofounder and former VP of products at CloudSwitch. A customer is assigned a set of servers and disk drives and is the only customer to use those resources in the Private Edition offering.

[Want to learn more about why CloudSwitch became a Terremark takeover target? See CloudSwitch Maintains On Premises Policies In The Cloud. ]

Customer isolation is guaranteed even in multi-tenant, public cloud environments, such as Terremark's own public cloud, dubbed Enterprise Cloud, or Amazon's EC2, or Rackspace's Cloud, as best as experts know. Multi-tenant architectures use firewalls and logical boundaries around virtualized applications to keep them from trespassing in others' memory spaces or storage. For example, Salesforce.com CRM applications have operated for over a decade in multi-tenant environments, without publicly known customer data corruption.

Even so, enterprise users put security at the top of their list of concerns about public cloud environments. Terremark's Enterprise Cloud, Private Edition, is meant to meet that heightened level of concern, said Rubin.

Terremark's private cloud edition is based on the virtual machine hypervisor most frequently found in large corporations, VMware's ESX Server, with cloud-enablement software also provided by VMware with Terremark's own enhancements.

Enterprise Cloud, Private Edition isolates customers' network services as well, but the distinguishing feature of Terremark's offering is probably CloudSwitch, produced by Rubin's former firm.

CloudSwitch wraps a legacy workload in a "cloud isolation layer" that contains its existing virtual machine format, security policies, and networking details and moves it to a Terremark facility where it can be run with those attributes intact. In effect, CloudSwitch translates between the old environment and the new, without programming intervention to convert the legacy system into something suitable to the new environment.

With a translation system, such as CloudSwitch, enterprise cloud users will gain a tool that helps them migrate legacy workloads to a Terremark facility. If they start out in the Private Edition portion of the data center, they will have to pay more for dedicated resources than they would in Terremark's public Enterprise Cloud. "Customers who want Private Edition with dedicated servers understand that it will be more expensive than multi-tenant services," Rubin said in an interview.

Terremark doesn't publish Private Edition prices. The starting price of a small VMware virtual machine in its public cloud is 3.7 cents an hour, on the high end of what may be comparable offerings from Microsoft's Azure and Amazon's EC2, whose entry points are 2 cents and 4 cents an hour, respectively. Direct comparison is difficult without knowing all the characteristics of the respective virtual servers.

Rubin said the decision to move from Private Edition to the lower-cost public cloud would be a simple migration, if the customer chooses to make it.

"For some customers, going to the cloud at all is a big deal. Private Edition may serve as their entry point," said Rubin. Once in a remote facility, "workload portability is really important," she added.

Terremark is the cloud operations unit of Verizon telecommunications. It was acquired by Verizon for $1.4 billion in January 2011 and operates 49 hosted services data centers around the world. The Private Edition service will be initially available in Terremark's data centers in Culpepper, Va., Amsterdam, the Netherlands; Sao Paulo, Brazil, and Terremark's NAP of the Americas in Miami, one of the largest data centers in the world. Rubin said the number of facilities with Private Edition will double by the end of the year.

The pay-as-you go nature of the cloud makes ROI calculation seem easy. It’s not. Also in the new, all-digital Cloud Calculations InformationWeek supplement: Why infrastructure-as-a-service is a bad deal. (Free registration required.)

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