Hybrid Clouds Floating To Enterprise Forefront

At the Cloud Computing Conference and Expo, speakers raise the prospect of private clouds working with public clouds.

Charles Babcock, Editor at Large, Cloud

November 4, 2009

5 Min Read

The hybrid cloud, or a combination of a public cloud, such as Amazon's EC2, working with an enterprise's private cloud, figured prominently in three speakers' remarks Tuesday at the Cloud Computing Conference and Expo in Santa Clara.

Mike Feinberg, Sr. VP and general manager of EMC's Cloud Infrastructure Group, said EMC anticipates that hybrid clouds will emerge out of all the interest in public and private clouds. His talk was titled, "Partly Cloudy: The Need for Hybrid Clouds."

Many people still believe cloud computing is primarily online applications, such as Salesforce.com's CRM. But Feinberg said the availability of low-cost, high-powered computing resources that end users may access to run their workloads comes closer to what cloud computing is all about.

"I think the essence of the cloud is about lowering the barrier to access, [and lowering] capital expenditures" to data center-sized resources, he said Tuesday morning in a keynote to about 350 attendees. "Some person can do their work in the cloud, and they're going to use it to innovate," Feinberg said.

The day will soon be here when cloud computing allows a person to start a small business and gain his IT infrastructure for small daily use fees. "You can build your company for the price of two lattes. You can run your whole infrastructure on the Internet at two lattes a day."

But the more likely scenario is companies doing some of their computing in external clouds and coordinating it with what they do internally in private clouds and legacy systems that don't fit into any cloud computing scheme. Cloud computing "is not about killing legacy systems," he said.

EMC in May launched its Atmos online storage service for private clouds in the enterprise and for cloud service providers.

AT&T intends to add it to its cloud services, Feinberg said, and a private cloud user can invoke Atmos as a way of implementing tiered data. The data most likely to be used can be stored inside the corporate firewall, and data that hasn't been accessed for 30 days, or qualifies under some other rules, "can be moved by policy up into the cloud."

There, the right to access the data will be covered by the same role-based policies in Atmos as those enforced inside the corporate boundaries, he noted.

Sam Gross, VP of Global Information Technology Outsourcing at Unisys, said other catalysts for private cloud computing, and eventually the hybrid cloud, will be offerings such as the Unisys Secure Cloud Computing Solution.

The top barrier to using the public cloud is the issue of security, with concerns of regulatory compliance thrown in, he noted. Unisys is offering both consulting and a "cloud-in-a-box" approach to helping clients establish private clouds. Unisys announced Monday a Secure Private Cloud Solution to become available in December and complement its Secure Cloud Solution, aimed at public clouds and launched earlier this year.

The Secure Private Cloud Solution will take the protections Unisys offers for operation in the public cloud and "put them in an appliance form factor" for use behind the corporate firewall. A hybrid cloud version of the product will appear in the first quarter of 2010, Gross said.

The Secure Private Cloud Solution seeks to not only implement a virtual private network for the movement of data in encrypted form, but also "to cloak your data" from prying eyes, except to those authorized to see it. "Even if someone removes a complete disk, there's not a byte that can be read" except by an authorized person, he said.

Unisys has a consultant workforce of 3,000 worldwide to offer Cloud Transformation Services, including, current state assessment, design and planning, installation and application migration into a private cloud computing environment.

"We can help manage a private cloud in your data center (monitoring as a service). We can monitor, resume and restore (in case of a failure) applications," he said.

The third speaker was Agatha Poon, Yankee Group analyst for the cloud, who said that despite the keen interest in Amazon's EC2 public cloud, most companies would prefer to do their cloud computing behind the firewall in a private cloud. She asked the audience for a show of hands of how many had implemented a private cloud, and at most 2 or 3 raised hands were raised.

The lack of implementation is not a measure of lack of interest, she continued. "Enterprise IT no longer believes cloud computing is hype. Instead, they believe that it's an evolving concept that will take years to mature," she said.

More than half of large enterprises, up to 57-58%, according to a chart shown by Poon, prefer the prospect of the private cloud to public cloud computing. Small business isn't far behind in the same preference, with roughly 47% saying they want their cloud computing to be done in a private cloud.

Nevertheless, IT budgets already show a shift toward the cloud. The Yankee Group this fall asked representatives of enterprises and small businesses about their plans to take up cloud computing, either as software as a service, platform as a service, or infrastructure as a service, over the next 12 to 24 months.

Over the next 12-24 months, those spending less than one-third of their budget on cloud resources will decline from 91% to 75%. Conversely, those spending more than a third of their budget will grow to 25% of respondents, she said. The current total that says they will spend a third of their budget on cloud services is 9%.

InformationWeek and Dr. Dobb's have published an in-depth report on how Web application development is moving to online platforms. Download the report here (registration required).

About the Author(s)

Charles Babcock

Editor at Large, Cloud

Charles Babcock is an editor-at-large for InformationWeek and author of Management Strategies for the Cloud Revolution, a McGraw-Hill book. He is the former editor-in-chief of Digital News, former software editor of Computerworld and former technology editor of Interactive Week. He is a graduate of Syracuse University where he obtained a bachelor's degree in journalism. He joined the publication in 2003.

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