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New wave of private cloud players washes up onshore

A group of new cloud management platforms blur the line between "build a cloud" and "use a cloud."

An interesting roundup of launches this week; apparently the vendor side has wised up to the pesky fact that building a private cloud infrastructure gets you…a bunch of virtual servers you can turn on and off. It doesn't actually help you do anything productive, it just offers a tidy automated platform and a way to tell your boss that "yes, we are 'doing cloud,' no, we are not using ACME Public Cloud, your vacation pictures are safe."

It's a mildly incestuous bunch too: Opscode, run by former website honcho Jesse Robbins, has announced Private Chef, which will be delivered in a hardware appliance (yes, really). It's a clone of Opscode's infrastructure scripting automation software, Chef, that will handle your virtual infrastructure in house. Jesse, if you're reading, I hereby nominate "Cafeteria Chef" for a budget virtual version of Opscode I can run (get it myself) and "Gyro Cart Chef" for the mobile development version. The possibilities are endless.

RightScale, which makes heavy use of the open source Chef project, announced myCloud, a virtual machine (VM) you can run in your own infrastructure to link up your RightScale public account and your private cloud platform. It, promises CEO Michael Crandell, will bring you all the fun of RightScale and all the peace of mind of your own personal VMs.

Users are asking for the next level of utility computing; actual usefulness, inside their own data centers.

Of course, you'll still use RightScale's portal, which is slightly weird but I can see the appeal. And there's a catch: You've got to be running Eucalyptus or as your platform. So for now, the 90% or so of you running VMware are still high and dry.

Why those two platforms? "Eucalyptus was really the first entrant and I think was the second," Crandell said. He added that those platforms are simply most ready for serious use; RightScale users looking at hybrid cloud, which Crandell feels is the definitive trend, are pretty much up to speed on those two. So far, this is all IT hippy stuff, although Crandell claims that VMware vCloud support is on the way.

More in-house cloud options arrive
Commercial open source data management vendor Talend also announced Talend Cloud, which will run across pretty much any of the public vendors and private virtualization platforms, hooks up with and NetSuite, and so on.

Non-IT hippy vendor Network Automation, Inc. announced it now supports Amazon Web Services for your point-and-click app building or infrastructure management needs. CEO Gary Bishop said Network Automation's usual demographic of small and medium businesses were already getting into Amazon by fits and starts, using SQS or S3 and the odd EC2 instance to get capacity they needed. He added that most of NAI's clients would rather cut off an ear than buy hardware or data center space when Amazon Web Services is out there, so the trend is undeniable.

And of course, there's HP, which launched (or re-launched, depending on how long you've known about it) CloudSystem, a massive bunch of technical partnerships, software automation and BladeSystem Matrix gear to get customers into the cloud, on a cloud or both. HP has basically said it doesn't give a plugged nickel for cloud idealism and has shoveled its entire automation portfolio on to users with a message of "You want cloud? You figure it out."

CloudSystem will now live on your racks, manage your VMs and -- when you want or need capacity -- burst out to a host of providers like Verizon or HP's own data centers. It is hypervisor agnostic and hardware agnostic; there is application automation (Moab from Adaptive), billing solutions, and on and on.

Will the kitchen sink approach work for HP? Maybe; we'll let you know when customers actually buy it. But the trend is clear; the market is moving on from the joys of Infrastructure as a Service and users are asking for the next level of utility computing; actual usefulness, inside their own data centers.

Carl Brooks is the Senior Technology Writer for Contact him at

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