Kaiser, Apollo Group vouch for private cloud

Private clouds can provide cost and provisioning benefits as well as better data protection, advocates say

Whether deployed behind the firewall or given its own designated space on a public cloud, a private cloud can maintain a company's control over data and offer quick provisioning and cost savings, panelists explained at a cloud conference this week.

Officials from the Apollo Group, which does a lot of systems work with the University of Phoenix, and Kaiser Permanente detailed their private cloud endeavors Thursday at the Cloud Leadership Forum conference in Santa Clara, Calif.

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Apollo has been deploying a virtual private cloud on Amazon's public cloud, said Christian Lewis, technical director for hosting services at Apollo. Through its cloud, the company does automated deployments and provisioning and adopts some Amazon services. The virtual private cloud "gave us the comfort of having control over our IT space, having an area within Amazon that we can call our own," Lewis said. He cited benefits in cost savings, agility, and speed to market. "I can provision from just about any device, anywhere, anytime," he said. With automation capabilities, Apollo can spin up and spin down entire application pools, which it could never do internally, Lewis said.

Kaiser, meanwhile, keeps its cloud in-house. "For us, private cloud is about our favorite three words: IT done right," said Madhu Nutakki, Kaiser vice president of systems integration and infrastructure management. With Kaiser, its private cloud is internally contained, with no Internet access. Kaiser, Nutakki said, leverages the cloud benefits of faster provisioning, the ability to flex its systems back and forth based on need, and the ability to standardize on software like virtual machines.

Kaiser opted for private cloud and internal hosting with the view that it can eventually get to a public or hybrid cloud when factors like security are strengthened. "From a legal standpoint, none of the public clouds yet are able to guarantee the data protection that we would require as a health care company," Nutakki said. Kaiser is keeping an eye on cloud standardization efforts like OpenStack, but is not yet leveraging OpenStack. "We're interested in it. We're not using it yet," Nutakki said.

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