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Network World - The potential benefits of public clouds are obvious to most IT execs, but so are the pitfalls – outages, security concerns, compliance issues, and questions about performance, management, service-level agreements and billing. At this point, it's fair to say that most IT execs are wary of entrusting sensitive data or important applications to the public cloud.
But a technology as hyped as cloud computing can't be ignored either. IT execs are exploring the public cloud in pilot programs, they're moving to deploy cloud principles in their own data centers, or they are eyeing an alternative that goes by a variety of names – enterprise cloud, virtual private cloud or managed private cloud.
We're using the term enterprise cloud to mean an extension of data center resources into the cloud with the same security, audit, and management/administrative components that are best practices within the enterprise. Common use cases would be a company that wanted to add systems resources without a capital outlay during a busy time of the year or for a special, resource-intensive project or application.
In this first-of-its-kind test, we invited cloud vendors to provide us with 20 CPUs that would be used for five instances of Windows 2008 Server and five instances of Red Hat Enterprise Linux – two CPUs per instance. We also asked for a 40GB internal or SAN/iSCSI disk connection, and 1Mbps of bandwidth from our test site to the cloud provider. And we required a secure VPN connection.
Rackspace, Terremark and BlueLock accepted our invitation. Amazon did, then did not and refused to communicate further. The services we tested were comparable in many respects. Rackspace Managed Private Cloud scored points for cost transparency, a solid administrative portal and good overall performance. Rackspace was the slowest in many portions of the tasks we needed them to complete, although, to be fair, we were making requests that were outside of their traditional sales channels. Terremark Enterprise Cloud delivered speed and the best administrative portal, and also offered the lowest cost. The BlueLock Virtual Cloud offered strong processes and good administrative support, but was the most expensive.
Over the course of conducting this test, we learned several things. First, a customer can expect to have an enterprise cloud deployed and up and running within a week after the selection process is complete. Second, all of the vendors delivered strong security and comparable performance, albeit with vastly contrasting management components.
And, we found that enterprise cloud services can be expensive. We also discovered that each vendor seemed "squishy" on overall pricing. Our recommendation is to not assume that the enterprise cloud route is automatically cheaper than buying and provisioning your own servers. Do a thorough cost analysis and make sure to pin down your vendor when it comes to specific items like bandwidth.