Interview: PrimaCloud offers new cloud computing service built on Xsigo's Virtual I/O

PrimaCloud CEO David Durkee discusses how the company's new offering gives cloud computing an enterprise-class performance, SLAs, and cost reductions

David Durkee, CEO of PrimaCloud, talks with me about how his company is one of the newest managed service providers to build a cloud computing service offering with an interconnect fabric based entirely on Xsigo's virtual I/O technology.  By doing so, he said the company is able to offer a new business model for enterprise customers, delivering "virtual private datacenters" that feature an industry-leading four-nines SLA at 50% less cost than traditional IT models.

PrimaCloud and its implementation of Xsigo Virtual I/O showcases that cloud computing really can be the wave of the future. With this new offering, cloud computing services can, for the first time, offer enterprise-class performance and SLAs while fulfilling the promise of significant cost reductions.  It now becomes simpler and more affordable to create new businesses and improve old ones.

[ What exactly is the cloud? Get past the hype and see what's real in InfoWorld's "What cloud computing really means" | Stay on top of the cloud from an IT pro's perspective in whurley's Cloud Computing blog. ]

InfoWorld:  To help explain, can you start off by describing your new cloud computing service offering?

PrimaCloud:  PrimaCloud delivers a new class of service that lets customers configure a virtual private datacenter in as little as five minutes, a task that would previously have required days or weeks.  In that newly deployed environment, we deliver the tools and redundancy needed to achieve 99.99% uptime, so customers can quickly go from a Visio drawing of their datacenter to a functioning deployment with guaranteed SLAs.  Compared to an in-house datacenter, they get the same security, control, performance, and uptime assurances, but without the expense and hassle of owning and operating equipment or hiring and training staff to maintain it and their software environment.  This is ideal for enterprises looking to expand or replace their infrastructure cost-effectively, as well as the traditional cloud market of information-based startups (Web 2.0, e-commerce, media delivery.)

InfoWorld:  What does your PrimaCloud service offer that your previous service did not?

PrimaCloud:  PrimaCloud is focused on delivering the highest levels of performance and reliability for infrastructure-as-a-service as well as managed services, as opposed to our previous offering which had more limited performance and only a three-nines infrastructure.  With PrimaCloud, we provide a collection of independently allocated datacenter resources: compute power, storage capacity, network/bandwidth, as well as automated programmable management.  Customers can remotely configure those resources to create virtual private datacenters on-demand or have us do it for them.  Our infrastructure, based on Xsigo virtual I/O, lets us flexibly interconnect resources under software control, and then allow them to operate autonomously.  As a result, we can guarantee both performance and four- and five-nines SLAs at a much lower cost than our customers could achieve on their own.

InfoWorld:  What role does virtual I/O play in this implementation?

PrimaCloud:  Virtual I/O was the only way to achieve our two objectives of flexibility and isolation.  It's becoming clear that virtual I/O is the only way to offer the flexibility necessary to provision a set of resources only when the customer needs it, which saves them money.  And resource isolation, which implies dedicated resources and dedicated interconnects, is critical to ensure performance and uptime as well as security.  Only Xsigo virtual I/O lets us achieve both of those while passing the savings of virtualization on to our customers.  We can connect anything to anything to create a standalone virtual datacenter, and then re-configure those resources at a moment's notice.  It literally lets us put the "virtual" in the virtual private datacenter.

InfoWorld:  So why Xsigo's Virtual I/O?  And what was the end result?

PrimaCloud:  We have many years of experience managing high-growth datacenters, and we know the difficulty of achieving the competing goals of performance, availability, and low cost.  Normally, the mindset is, "pick two."  Offering this service, and doing it cost-effectively, meant doing things differently.  When we saw Xsigo virtual I/O in action, we knew right away that it was the missing link because of the flexibility and scalability it offered us.  Take an example of a simple job such as connecting a server to a new storage device.  With traditional I/O it could involve cables, software, and settings that take days to implement and could introduce configuration errors.  With Xsigo it takes a lot less hardware, and all configuration tasks are done in software, so they can be automated.  The job gets done quickly and consistently.  As a result, we can maintain 99.99% uptime at 50% less cost and in 85% less physical datacenter space than would otherwise be possible.  Our capital and operational cost savings enabled by Xsigo virtual I/O are expected to exceed $1 million in the service’s first year of operation.

InfoWorld:  What other technologies or approaches did you evaluate, and why wouldn't they work?

PrimaCloud:  We evaluated other technology options, including 10Gig Ethernet and FCoE, and concluded that only Xsigo met our needs.  Traditional I/O approaches don't deliver the isolation and flexible configuration we needed, nor do they allow for fully automated configuration and delivery of our services.

InfoWorld:  Any additional benefits?

PrimaCloud:  PrimaCloud's services are managed by global orchestration software that automates the tasks of delivering virtual private datacenters to our customers.  However, this capability also offers unique benefits to our customers by automating the management of their applications as well.  For example, we can not only scale an application up and down with demand, but we can fulfill our customer's budgetary constraints by re-allocating computing power to their most important tasks as required -- automatically.  Or, we can provide five nines of uptime by automatically moving computing loads to remote datacenters in case of disaster.  The flexibility of being able to automate our customers' virtual private datacenters with our global orchestrator depends on Xsigo virtual I/O.

InfoWorld:  Any advice or lessons learned coming from your experience in building this service?

PrimaCloud:  In order for enterprise cloud computing to become a reality, operating costs need to be carefully considered.  Customers must see genuine value -- better performance and more availability for less money than they could achieve on their own.  To do that you must make efficient use of resources, which is exactly what cloud computing is designed for.  With cloud technologies, we can dynamically re-deploy resources to keep utilization rates high.  And we can maintain guaranteed performance and deliver four- and five-nines availability.  But the only way to do all these things simultaneously is with virtual I/O.  Without that element, you're back to fixed resources, reduced utilization, and higher costs.  Xsigo gave us that flexibility and made it easy to implement, not just as a vendor, but truly as a business partner.

Again, I'd like to thank David Durkee, CEO of PrimaCloud, for speaking with me and explaining how PrimaCloud is building out their new cloud computing service and leveraging Xsigo's Virtual I/O technology.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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