IT shops rally around private clouds

Going forward, a hybrid public-private approach will likely win

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Sinochem's Jinsong Peng
Cloud technology will remain a permanent part of Sinochem's IT testing infrastructure, says Jinsong Peng, the company's IT general manager.

With Platform's ISF tool, SAS builds policy-based provisioning templates that help prevent chaos in the cloud, Doninger says. For example, testers in SAS's quality assurance department can reserve bare-metal machines for a few weeks, or engineers in the field can snag predefined servers, storage and software for a couple of days. ISF prevents scheduling conflicts and releases systems back to the available pool after they are no longer in use.

While some IT managers are comfortable with automating the entire resource reservation and provisioning process, others are more cautious. Sinochem Group, No. 170 on Fortune's Global 500 list, is one example. Through a translator, Jinsong Peng, IT general manager at the Beijing-based industrial conglomerate, described how the company carried out a full SAP upgrade for its 200 subsidiaries by using a private cloud during the testing and deployment cycles.

"In the traditional model, we would have needed to replicate multiple systems throughout the development and testing processes," he says.

However, because Peng's team could share private cloud resources, Sinochem needed to add only 10% more capacity to the company's IBM AIX server infrastructure. As is the case at SAS, testers at Sinochem requested systems in various configurations, which IBM's CloudBurst service management tools dynamically allocated. But Sinochem instituted policies that also routed each resource request through a system administrator for approval, Peng says.

Even with that conservative, human-in-the-middle approach, the automated provisioning process helped Sinochem complete its full SAP upgrade in seven months, which is remarkable, given that projects like that can take years to complete. For example, Shane Co., Colorado-based retail jewelry chain, cited in bankruptcy filings that its SAP upgrade took two and a half years, and NASA had expected a huge SAP upgrade to take eight years.

As a result of the success of the cloud-based approach at Sinochem, Peng says, cloud technology remains a permanent part of the company's IT testing infrastructure.

Gray linings in the hybrid cloud

At ING, which has a few private cloud pilot projects in the works, a seamless hybrid setup is years away, Boehme says. In part, that's because of the limits of today's management tools, he adds.

"You want a single pane of glass for management," which doesn't exist today for hybrid platforms, he says. For example, if IT pushed workloads into public cloud computing services today, in-house administrators would not be able to manage the workloads in those external data centers. Those workloads would run wherever the service provider's policies deemed appropriate. Cross-cloud policy management doesn't exist.

Paul Burns, an analyst at Neovise LLC, a Fort Collins, Colo.-based research firm specializing in cloud computing, echoes Boehme's view. Private clouds will dominate inside corporate IT for the foreseeable future because of classic business concerns about governance, security and, mostly, control, he says.

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