The Bumpy Road to Private Clouds

Building an internal cloud isn't easy, warns a veteran IT analyst. You'll need new tools and procedures.

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So far, it isn't possible to buy one commercial product that will do everything IT managers need to do for private clouds. You have to stitch together a number of different products from various vendors and place your own user interface on the front end.

But Verizon Business' Deacon says that more-sophisticated enterprises are integrating multiple management tool sets -- for instance, HP's Server Automation suite and BMC's Patrol suite. Security, firewall, networking and storage elements can be orchestrated from within both HP and BMC suites. IT shops that don't link multiple tool sets may have to write a lot of their own software to get the necessary automation capabilities.

Is single-console management a real possibility for private clouds? Not everyone will be able to get by with just one console, says Iams, but even two or three consoles would be a huge improvement over the dozen that some shops use today.

Deacon says that single-console management is in the cards, noting that Verizon Business has built a high-level console management layer that collects data from VMware vCenter Server, HP Network Automation and HP Virtual Connect, among other products.

Vendors Will Consolidate

Frank Gillett, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc., isn't so optimistic. "It is unrealistic to think that we are going to get many of these management tools to work together," he says. Instead, he predicts that over time, the market will shrink dramatically through acquisitions, leaving a handful of vendors that will offer "much more integrated capabilities." And some IT managers prefer large, established vendors for cloud technology because they can't trust their data centers to start-ups that may not be in business in a year or two.

Deacon agrees that consolidation is likely as large companies like HP and IBM buy up cloud-based start-ups and add the new software to their existing portfolios. That's what HP did with its acquisition of OpsWare. Similarly, BMC absorbed BladeLogic, and CA has been on a buying spree, acquiring Nimsoft, Oblicore, 3Tera and others.

IT shops need federation and interoperability, Gillett adds, "and we are very early in those efforts. We may be able to bring private cloud management tools together, but it will be a messy interim period."

Yet during that period, IT shops will be under enormous pressure from business users to engage in cloud computing. If the data center operations group can't respond quickly with a private cloud, then business users will look at public clouds. To successfully compete with public cloud providers, IT departments will need to deploy similar services in-house, and those private clouds will have to be better and more attractive to use than public clouds.

Claybrook, an analyst with more than 30 years of experience in the computer industry, is president of New River Marketing Research in Concord, Mass. Contact him at bclaybrook@comcast.net.

This version of this story was originally published in Computerworld's print edition. It was adapted from Part 1 and Part 2 of a feature that appeared earlier on Computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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