Is there room for another private cloud maker in the market right now? Cloud.com thinks so. It's one of a herd of similar companies promising to do the same thing -- turn virtualized servers into a self-service, on-demand and metered computing environment like Amazon Web Services or Rackspace Cloud Servers -- only inside your company.
The list of competitors is long and includes Platform, Enomaly, Surgient, Eucalyptus and Abiquo, to name a few. Analysts say none of these firms are likely to achieve market dominance any time soon. Sean Hackett, director of cloud computing research at the 451 group, said the essential problem is they all promise a lot but are only one piece of the private cloud puzzle.
"The biggest problem right now is that there is no actual consolidator," Hackett said.
None of the platform software makers offer the complete package for delivering a private cloud. Users still have to operate their own hardware, storage and networking, run their hypervisor of choice (Cloud.com's CloudStack works with VMware, KVM and XenServer) and, on top of that, run the software that makes all that a cloud. If the price is right, or even free, that still leaves IT administrators trying to make the whole thing work together, without much help when things go wrong.
"As you're pulling all these modules together, governance becomes a problem," Hackett said. He doesn't single out Cloud.com; from an organizational standpoint, he said all of the platform providers are weak around governance and compliance.
"The big question becomes, who's going to put the pieces together? If I'm a user, who do I call when something goes wrong?"
Enterprises waiting for a cohesive cloud
Hackett said that, despite cloud platforms doing very cool things, they weren't the solution enterprise was looking for and wouldn't be until somebody came along with enough clout to organize all of the point products and tools into a cohesive product.
Of course, IBM or EMC can sell you a ready-made cloud-in-a-box, but those are expensive and do not deliver on the promise of virtualization and automation to improve existing IT infrastructure. Hackett said that the opportunity for Cloud.com and others was to claim first-mover advantage and get in on the ground floor. He said Cloud.com has a shot at being an important player as the private cloud market develops, but so does every other platform maker.
"It's a classic disruptive model, similar to what Amazon did," he said. The market for private clouds is shifting very fast and companies that strike the right note now will still be relevant a few years from now.
"We think we bring some really unique perspective, because we've built a lot of clouds," claimed Cloud.com's VP of business development, Shannon Williams.
He said that Cloud.com had been in business since 2008, working with customers like McAfee and India's Tata Communications, and currently had about 24 customers, including public cloud providers like ReliaCloud and Australian Cloud Central.
Williams said Cloud.com was stepping out into the light with its open source offering because cloud computing had hit a tipping point -- enough people had seen what Amazon could do and they wanted to do it for themselves. He said the company planned to fully support its customers, selling software and services along the Red Hat model, but did not disclose pricing.
Formerly known as VMOps, Cloud.com has $17 million in venture capital and is the brain child of Sheng Liang, a Sun alumni instrumental in the development of Java virtual machine (JVM) technology. CloudStack is built around a management server that runs on top of a virtualized data center environment and offers users both APIs and Web portal management. Williams said that it was designed to be flexible and scale efficiently.
Carl Brooks is the Technology Writer at SearchCloudComputing.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.