The concept of running enterprise IT like a utility is far from new. Vendors were promoting it alone with the other “new economy” stuff of Internet 1.0. However, the concept has been slow to take off—partially because vendors really didn’t follow through with the pay as you go acquisition model, and partially because CFOs still wanted to keep IT infrastructure in the CAPEX budget.
Public cloud is now stimulating a shift to OPEX budgeting where IT truly is a pay as you go and only for what you use utility. However, many enterprises still want the management control, security, and the ability to choose best-of-breed components for IT infrastructure. The answer for that has become the private cloud where application users potentially get the look and feel of public cloud while enterprise IT exercises the management control of more traditional on-premises computing. But what the private cloud still requires to come full circle with the public cloud is pay as you go flexibility. The private cloud needs both the technology and the OPEX utility of the public cloud.
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And vendors are catching on. Cisco for example offers Metacloud which is an example of an OpenStack private cloud appliance delivered to customers as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). Cisco licenses Metacloud to enterprise customers on a monthly subscription basis. Licensed services include pre-installation consulting, configuration, installation, and on-going support. Monthly pricing is based on the number of physical compute sockets in a Metacloud environment. Metacloud is an OpenStack, on premises cloud that is operated and paid for like a utility.
However, Metacloud limits the ability of enterprise IT to choose needed infrastructure components. A new trend is to deliver not only IT systems but IT
infrastructure components as a service. Nimble Storage offers a Storage On-Demand option where a customer is charged on a GB per month bases for an all flash arrays. Zadara Storage offers an on or off-premises Storage Cloud that was designed from the beginning to be deployed in a cloud computing, IaaS environment.
Recently, HPE started offering not just systems as a service but storage components as well. Under a program called HPE 3PAR Flash Now, HPE is the first major storage vendor to offer an all flash storage array as a service. For $0.03 per GB per month, customers can replace an obsolete disk array with an all flash array and pay for it as an operational expense. Assuming that the old array is far enough along in its life cycle where it is the subject of a monthly maintenance and support contract, a customer could potentially pay for the HPE 3PAR all flash array with the same OPEX maintenance dollars used for the replaced array. Customers can package compute, network and data protection components on an as-a-service basis as well if desired and other services such as data migration from the old to the new flash array can also be included.
Generally speaking, there are two ways for enterprise IT to get to the private cloud. One is to spin-up a new private cloud service that is separate and distinct from existing IT infrastructure. The other is to transform an existing IT environment—a process that Microsoft and VMware are now offering to customers with Azure Stack and vRealize respectively. Many IT departments now see the transformation of an existing infrastructure to mimic the public cloud experience as more productive. The objective of transformation is to deploy a services delivery engine that can simultaneously support existing applications while delivering new mobile, social, and analytics applications—and to deliver agile application services in an “always-on” way. Coupling agile services delivery with the flexibility of pay-as-you-go utility for even the infrastructure components truly delivers the public cloud experience for both users and CFOs.