Public Cloud Computing services are growing fast despite the fact that a lot of people do not fully trust them. Just look at the number of launched Amazon EC2 instances in the datacenter US East 1 region (Courtesy of Jack of All Clouds). In 2008, the highest peak reached 20K instances, at the end of 2010 customers launched up to 140k instances, an increase with a factor of 7!

And Amazon is not the only dog in town. According to the same measurements, the Rackspace Cloud Servers have to serve up just as much instances per day. Translation to us hardware nuts: many people are hiring a virtual server instead of buying a physical one. 

But if you are reading this, you are probably working at a company which has already invested quite a bit of money and time in deploying their own infrastructure. That company is probably paying you for your server expertise. Making use of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is a lot cheaper than buying and administering too many servers just to be able to handle any bursty peak of traffic. But once you run 24/7 services on IaaS, the Amazon prices go up significantly (paying a reservation fee etc.) and it remains to be seen if making use of a public cloud is really cheaper than running your applications in your own dataroom. So combining the best of both worlds seems like a very good idea. 

Even back when I visited VMworld Europe in Cannes in 2008, we were promised by VMware that "Hybrid datacenters" or "hybrid clouds" were just around the corner. The Hybrid Cloud would ideally let you transfer cloud workload  between your own datacenter and a public clouds like Amazon EC2 and the Terremark (now part of Verizon) Enterprise Cloud.

In 2010, the best you could get was a download/upload option. There were still quite a few hurdles to take as you could read in our article: "Hybrid Clouds: are we there yet? ".

The excellent concept of hybrid cloud started to materialize when VMware launched their vCloud Connector  back in February 2011. The VMware vCloud Connector is a free plug-in that allows you to deploy and transfer virtual machines (VMs) from your own vSphere based datacenter to a datacenter that runs the vCloud Director.

The 1.0 version, was a virtual appliance which was rather slow and unreliable when moving VMs around. Just a few days ago, VMware has announced the 1.5 version which seems to be quite a bit faster, more reliable (checkpoint & restart) and is agent based. We will try it out soon. Citrix is also on the Hybrid cloud bandwagon with the Netscaler Cloud Bridge.

We asked a few hosting providers how they felt about the VMware version of hybrid cloud and the reactions were mixed. Several people told us that this would make offering a Service Level Agreement quite complex or even impossible. It is after all quite hard to offer a good SLA when your uptime is also dependent on the internet connection between the customer's datacenter and the hosting provider's datacenter. Your thoughts?

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  • Xenoterranos - Sunday, September 18, 2011 - link

    You mention vCloud Controller and it's downsides but neglect to mention Rackspace (and NASA's) OpenStack, which aims to alleviate all the issues by making the visualization voodoo open to everyone. I personally can't see why you would want to choose a closed, proprietary system when you don't even trust the cloud to begin with! I fear a large part of the bad taste people get when they talk about the lack of guarantees and security regarding the cloud comes from the fact that you don't really know what's going on behind the scenes. Open Stack at least hold the promise of allowing companies to host their own clouds AND not have to worry about traffic spikes - they can just let it overflow to another OpenStack cloud,
    Granted, it's not here yet, but it still feels awfully relevant.
  • war59312 - Monday, September 19, 2011 - link

    A small typo. ;)

    "The 1.0 version, was a virtual a virtual appliance"

    Notice the double "a virtual" in there.
  • Kakureru - Monday, September 19, 2011 - link

    Wish I were in an IT job :P
  • KoVaR - Monday, September 19, 2011 - link

    I work in IT support. I wish I could send my users to the could and leave all VMs on premise.
  • iwodo - Monday, September 19, 2011 - link

    I wonder who are interested and current using it. For average joe most of their hosting will be Linux Xen / OpenVZ based.
  • krumme - Monday, September 19, 2011 - link

    Generally IT take way to much top management time. Its a waste.
    The IT people talk a language nobody understands. Fair enough. From here it just looks like they try to protect their own job talking a fake technical language nobody understands. Man if marketing or sales were using the same language, they would be told to express themselves proporly.
    Why this Cloud datacenters is not really taking off long time ago, is because all those vauge arguement, with no effects. What is the cost of security when you do it yourself? what is the added benefit in $ of holding the security yourself?
    Man, its like companies ensuring themselves. Its stone age thinking. And absolutely the most waste of ressources. Where else in the chain do you have this waste of ressources?
    The IT people continue to talk nonsense, cloud bla bla bla, and then someday all the IT department is outsourced, and then the service provider can decide if they want to use datacenters. Who thinks they will have their own private servers. This waste of ressources stops the day, when top management get enough, and realises they can use their time better than talking about cloud at datacenters.
  • JohanAnandtech - Monday, September 19, 2011 - link

    I have to disagree. First "being able to get the message across" is the core business of sales and marketing, so your comparison to IT is very flawed. If we follow that reasoning, IT has the same right to complain about the incompetence of many sales and marketing people to make use of the right IT tools as we are living in the information age.

    Outsourcing IT completely is very dangerous, I have witnessed the result of that more than once. The result is that no one understands why the third party charges for some services and whether they are important or not. A third party might for example be a HP and EMC partner and they have to get sales targets. As a result they sell you what the OEM wants to sell, not what you really need. At the very least you need one IT person that understands, talks and controls what the third party IT company offers.
  • iwodo - Monday, September 19, 2011 - link

    And i never thought Rackspace was THIS large. I know they are much larger then GoGrid or StormOnDemand, VPS.NET etc. I never knew they could be; I mean rivalling Amazon?

    And RackSpace is not even really a true cloud. last time i heard as their Storage is not Redundant and Fail-Safe.
  • JohanAnandtech - Monday, September 19, 2011 - link

    They are probably only this large in the US, or in parts of the US. I don't believe they have much marketshare outside the US. Amazon has a datacenter in Ireland, Singapore and Tokyo. So they are definitely larger if you look at it globally.

    I believe most storage solutions in the cloud are not really fail-safe, but I do believe most of them have some form of redundancy.
  • Xenoterranos - Monday, September 19, 2011 - link

    Their storage options are definitely redundant and fail-safe...unlike Amazon who's massive outage back in April cause data loss and downtime for websites all over the net. When news like that hits, it makes it hard to believe that Amazon is as big as it is - I'd expect to see their customers leaving in droves!

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