Build-Your-Own-Cloud (BYOC) Services Get a Boost from Rackspace, Boos from Google

By | Aug 9, 2012

The cloud was to be all things to all admins. At least, that's how it was sold five years ago when the "revolution" began. Data was supposed to move away from the local server to central facilities, where professionals managed information with loving care and security issues were a thing of the past. Not surprisingly, this technology Utopia hasn't entirely emerged, with midsize IT especially leery to move their data onto a public cloud. Now, companies like Rackspace are offering build-your-own-cloud (BYOC) services for small, midsize, and enterprise-level businesses, but other big providers like Google and Amazon aren't so crazy about the idea.

You Want What Kind of Cloud?

Rackspace says that their clouds are running on OpenStack. According to Wired, using what is essentially the cloud's version of Linux lets Rackspace clients use their own datacenters, the Rackspace cloud, or an OpenStack cloud built by another company. In other words, companies have a choice. There are some concerns over the open source software's ability to handle huge workloads, but CTO John Engates says OpenStack is ready.

Not surprisingly, both Google and Amazon have something to say about customers building private clouds on open source software, and though they didn't provide direct statements in response to the Rackspace announcement, their current policies tell the tale. According to Google, hosting on a private cloud is less efficient; by using the Google server stack and creating a massive public cloud, efficiency goes up and costs go down. A blog post by Amazon CTO Wener Vogels last year argues that "the reality is when you really dig into the details of these private or internal clouds they are usually a very expensive fixed cost, private installation of infrastructure which lack all the key benefits of the cloud." In other words, a private cloud is no cloud at all.

While a tiny startup may not benefit from putting its data on a build-your-own-cloud solution, many more enterprise and midsize businesses can find utility in moving their data to a solution that is paradoxically more open but also provides a greater measure of control.

Why All the Fuss?

Both Google and Amazon have good names in the industry, and despite some recent technological setbacks and outages, they haven't failed in any substantive security efforts. Nonetheless, a recent Mezeo Software survey—detailed in an August 1, 2012, article—found that loss of corporate data and control was the number-one concern for CIOs considering a move to the public cloud.

Worry over data leakage onto the public cloud was rated by 80 percent of respondents as an 8 or higher on a scale of one to 10, with 10 as "most worried." No company believes themselves completely immune from data leakage, and while the consumerization of IT and the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend were cited as the greatest causes of such leakage, only 42 percent of those asked said they were actively preventing such leakage.

Simply put, CIOs from businesses of all sizes have concerns when it comes to the public cloud, concerns that can't be allayed just because Google and Amazon say a public option is cheaper and more efficient. Control over data, even if it's more expensive in a private cloud, is often worth the cost for midsize IT as it gives them a greater sense of security and—with open source cloud options like those from Rackspace—lets them tailor a cloud to their needs.

Google and Amazon do have a point; collective use is cheaper than individual setups. But until they can deliver solutions that are transparent, flexible, and avoid vendor lock-in, it's likely that midsize admins will keep looking to private, build-your-own-cloud services before they look to any public option.

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

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