Feeling overwhelmed with cloud choices?

many-cloudsImage courtesy Business Cloud News circa 2013

It is a given that public cloud is here to stay. People love that they don’t have to deal with infrastructure and operations.

It is also a given that most of the workloads are on-premises right now, and many organizations want an on-premises cloud to run them.

However, the adoption of private cloud has been quite slow. In fact, most vendors in that space – including VMware, Microsoft and Oracle – started with private cloud solutions and added features to that platform. But they didn’t address one of the most important reasons why people liked public cloud: not having to deal with complex infrastructure and cloud software stacks.

Obviously, vendors realized this and started offering a public cloud running on their stack, for example, vCloud Air, vCloud on IBM SoftLayer, vCloud on AWS, Oracle Public Cloud, and Microsoft Azure. So this is looking like way too many choices to get cloud for enterprises. The list also includes other vendors like Rackspace that provide managed private cloud, and HPE Helion, Red Hat, Canonical and others that provide OpenStack-based clouds using their distros.

Given the most widespread adoption of VMware-based virtualized environments, here are the four most common approaches that an enterprise can take.

  1. VMware vCenter to vCloud Suite — This is a path that requires enterprises to have enough in-house cloud experts who can handle all the setup, management and operations of a vCloud environment. This option has been available for more than five years, but adoption has been low due to inherent complexity in building this solution. It is a classic example of getting agility with higher complexity and cost. Enterprises with tens of thousands of servers can potentially use this approach.

  2. VMware vCenter + vCloud Air + AWS — This is a path where the enterprise does not have to set up a cloud itself. They get a managed cloud from VMware, either in VMware’s datacenter or in an AWS datacenter. In this case, the workload will get split over WAN across two VMware environments. The location of vCloud Air matters in cases when proximity to AWS is important and when you want to use additional AWS services. Otherwise, it can be either on VMware’s datacenter, in a partner’s colo facility or on IBM SoftLayer. Here, the enterprise workload is split across three different locations: an on-premises environment, a hosted private cloud and AWS. This can get complicated as the enterprise workload is split across the WAN integration with public cloud is not clear and the cost is going to be high as well.

  3. VMware vCenter + ZeroStack + AWS — This is a path of least resistance where one can add a cloud on-premises next to the existing infrastructure. ZeroStack cloud has the same look and feel as that of AWS, and as a customer you don’t have to manage it at all. In addition, ZeroStack provides seamless integration with public clouds and analytics-based placement of workloads across different options.

  4. ZeroStack + AWS — This is a perfect use case for enterprises that are not running any special applications with dependence on ESX hypervisor or VMware. They get to consume both a private and public cloud without having to deal with infrastructure and operations for either. Furthermore, we can offer pricing with zero CapEx and a monthly SaaS-based subscription. So in this case, the cloud becomes simply a pay-as-you-go model of consumption with higher performance, security, control and visibility. The public cloud integration helps with bursting and offers a risk-free path to trying a public cloud.

Most enterprises can evaluate these options and decide based on their near-term reliance on legacy solutions. Obviously, cloud is not a one-size-fits-all solution. But one trend is quite clear: enterprises don’t want to build a private cloud themselves. It is too expensive unless your scale is very high, of the order of tens of thousands of servers.

The challenge then becomes, how do you get the best of both worlds? Is there such a thing as a “complete hybrid cloud” bridging between a public cloud and the on-premises use cases? Public clouds are great in terms of self-service and you don’t have to deal with infrastructure and operations (I&O). Private clouds require a lot of I&O operational headache. So private clouds are failing today due to wrong expectations from customers and all the work they have to do.

We think you should focus on building, testing and running applications, not on infrastructure and operations. A tight integration between a self-service private cloud and a public cloud is the best way to avoid lock-in, balance risk and cost, and ensure that you are using the right cloud for the right application.

Well, ZeroStack just announced its membership in Amazon’s Partner Network to enable a true integration between public and private clouds. Our goal is to offer a self-service, on-premises cloud without any operational complexity that is managed by ZeroStack — so we mirror what public clouds offer. This offers the ‘best of both worlds’ cloud for IT and developers, where IT does not have to deal with infrastructure operations.

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