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How hosted private cloud services fill cloud model gaps

For enterprises that are leery of private or public cloud, hosted private cloud services -- also known as a managed cloud -- may be a better option.

While some enterprises comfortably adopt public cloud, others prefer to run applications on-premises in a private...

cloud. But if neither cloud model works, enterprises can turn to hosted private cloud services or managed cloud. Hosted private clouds are maintained in data centers that are operated by cloud service providers, such as Rackspace, HP and IBM. A single private cloud customer uses core resources, such as compute and storage without shared tenancy. Once an enterprise determines managed cloud is the right option, the next step is to settle on a support level.

Each hosted private cloud provider's services vary, often according to support level. At the very least, a managed cloud provider offers managed infrastructure support. At this level, the provider handles hardware maintenance, network configuration and other services needed to access bare-metal or hypervisor-based platforms. Enterprises interested in the managed infrastructure support option should have experience running a cloud platform, such as OpenStack.

Enterprises that want experience and support similar to a public cloud should look for a managed cloud provider that offers system operations services. This level contains infrastructure and cloud platform management, including deploying and updating cloud services such as storage management systems, identity management systems and image catalog services. The provider also offers operating system maintenance and monitoring, as well as auditing support, as needed.

Some hosted private cloud providers have additional services, such as DevOps support. In this case, companies rely on the vendor for Chef scripts to deploy applications or run services that collect, consolidate and analyze application and server logs. These managed cloud providers also offload some DevOps support tasks. For example, it's difficult to maintain a secure environment -- even in modestly complex infrastructures. If you're uncertain whether your organization can uphold a secure environment with constantly changing workloads and applications, a good option is to use a vendor's support staff.

Divvying up the hosted private cloud space

In addition to common features, hosted private cloud providers differentiate themselves with services that appeal to particular market segments. Often it makes sense for an enterprise to stick with a major IT vendor, such as HP and IBM, with whom they have long-standing technology relationships.

Hosted private cloud services allow enterprises to use an existing relationship with a provider. IT teams can renegotiate existing software and hardware contracts as part of a hosted private cloud project. If a company already has a significant investment in hardware and data center infrastructure, it can choose to have the vendor manage a private cloud on-premises. This can reduce costs if existing hardware is redeployed to a private cloud.

But not all enterprises need a major IT vendor. Rackspace now focuses its cloud efforts on supporting OpenStack for hosted private clouds. Rackspace has a well-developed customer base from its other hosting business and emphasizes customer support to distinguish itself.

Other vendors target services to a particular geographic region. For example, MorphLabs focuses its services on enterprises in the Philippines and Auro is a 100% Canadian-owned private cloud provider. Post-Snowden, many enterprises are more diligent in knowing where their hosted data is physically located.

Hosted private cloud services offer some of the advantages of public and private clouds. And with a growing number of providers, enterprises need to choose between a variety of criteria: levels of infrastructure and system support, DevOps support, prior IT relationships and geographic location.

About the author:
Dan Sullivan holds a master of science degree and is an author, systems architect and consultant with more than 20 years of IT experience. He has had engagements in advanced analytics, systems architecture, database design, enterprise security and business intelligence. He has worked in a broad range of industries, including financial services, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, software development, government, retail and education. Dan has written extensively about topics that range from data warehousing, cloud computing and advanced analytics to security management, collaboration and text mining.

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This was last published in November 2014

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