Selecting a private cloud is harder than you think

Most providers that started with public clouds now do private clouds, and private clouds in turn become even more confusing

As InfoWorld's Ted Samson reported last week, Rackspace has released Rackspace Private Cloud Software, which is the same complete version of Essex OpenStack the company runs in its own hosted private clouds. This move was designed to get Rackspace more traction in the cloud computing market, targeting the greater-than-expected spending on private clouds by enterprises.

Rackspace's latest release reminded me of what's been happening steadily in cloud computing over the last few years. While we keep discussing public clouds, almost like it's a religion, enterprise IT continues to gravitate toward private clouds in a big way. Not surprisingly, traditional on-premise vendors like Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, and IBM have responded in kind. But so too have the "traditional" cloud vendors, such as Rackspace and, with its Eucalyptus partnership, Amazon Web Services.

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However, selecting a private cloud is harder than you may think, even when dealing with vendors you already know. No relevant standards exist, other than the emerging open source initiatives, and what constitutes a private cloud seems to be in the eye of the beholder. When you evaluate private clouds, you'll find it's difficult to compare them.

For example, consider features such as how a private cloud provisions resources, manages tenants, and handles use-based accounting, logging, application management, databases, and even security. All vendors approach these very important aspects of cloud computing in a different way, and some have skipped over one or two features altogether.

That's why it's hard to select a private cloud vendor. Of course, it always comes down to understanding technology and business requirements. But even with that necessary prerequisite accomplished, making sense of who has what and what it actually provides requires some detective work. Look beyond the hype to what is actually ready for deployment and how it all works together.

This article, "Selecting a private cloud is harder than you think," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog and track the latest developments in cloud computing at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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