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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  • Doken44 - Sunday, September 18, 2011 - link

    My reaction on reading this article were mentioned in the last paragraph.
    Do the existing ISP infrastructures allow for wide use of this type of cloud service?

    Personally, as long as I have complete control over what may be sent to a cloud, and what will not be sent, I'm all for hybrid cloud computing.
  • lunarx3dfx - Sunday, September 18, 2011 - link

    Call me old fashioned, but if I were running a business the idea of my data being kept by another company wouldn't sit right with me. I personally am not a supporter of cloud computing overall, but I'm also paranoid.
  • Chadder007 - Monday, September 19, 2011 - link

    For all of this Cloud storage to be happening despite peoples suspicions suggest to me that someone is getting kickbacks to move to these solutions high up on the chain of these companies.
  • beginner99 - Monday, September 19, 2011 - link

    yeha because soem douche manager heread the word cloud somewhere googled it and thinks "We need that too" without knowing anything about it and possible consequences.
    At the company i work this will never happen. But it's a large company so a datacenter is justified anyway. I'm also nto a cloud fan but for small companies that don't need a real datacenter and couldn't pay for extra staff I guess it could be the cheapest solution but I must admit I have no idea about the prices.
  • iwodo - Monday, September 19, 2011 - link

    Well you would have to be a VERY large company to own and run a Datacenter. And unless you do that, even good old school hosting companies will still have your data anyway. And if you move to Colocation, your DataCenter will still have access to your Data. I mean, it is really base on trust.

    To me, cloud hosting and old hosting has zero difference in terms of data security.
  • Spivonious - Monday, September 19, 2011 - link

    Agreed. I can't see the customers of the company I work for ever being okay with their sensitive data being stored in the cloud. Until they make a hack-proof network, the cloud will remain primarily a consumer backup service.
  • Exelius - Monday, September 19, 2011 - link

    It really depends what your needs are. If you're a small business, I can guarantee Amazon is better at running a server farm than you are, and they can do it far cheaper and more securely than you can. While Amazon's downtime is high-profile, it's also much less likely than if you're running a non-redundant system in your office. All it takes is a bad storm to knock out your connection to the internet.

    Also, if you run a business doing anything other than IT, you probably don't have the understanding of security to secure your data, or the time/discipline to maintain best practice processes around backups and disaster recovery planning. If you want to protect customer data on S3, wall it off and encrypt it. But I can guarantee whatever system you have set up is easier to bypass than S3. Most real data breaches come through compromised workstations anyway; so it doesn't matter where the data is actually located.

    Anyway, the hysteria about "not having control" of your data is hogwash; owning the servers gives you the illusion of control where you actually don't have any. Having less responsibilities related to things outside your companies core business functions is generally considered a good thing.
  • ggathagan - Monday, September 19, 2011 - link

    Not sure how long you've been in the tech field, but there are a LOT of businesses/organizations that have been handling their own data needs internally just fine, thank you very much.

    The fact that a business is small does not automatically result in them running a "non-redundant system".

    While you are correct that Amazon is probably better at running a server farm, their main concern is *their* data, not yours.
    They are very careful to avoid responsibility should your data on their cloud go "poof!".

    Banks, research facilities and major corporations having been dealing with data security, integrity and storage since day one.

    The need for an IT department usually arises out of infrastructure concerns, not end user computers.

    Yes, there are businesses that fail to plan and fund this area properly, but that's usually a one-time mistake. It's amazing how willing a company is to spend money on disaster recovery after they've had a disaster.

    Nor is control of ones data "hogwash".
    Issues of confidentiality go far beyond commerce transactions, especially in the area of research.
    It's not simply a matter of owning the servers, it's also where the servers are located.

    Your last sentence is true only within the context of having 100% confidence in another entity handling those services that are outside of the core business.

    The job of someone working for your company is directly related to their performance. When you outsource a service of any kind, that person is no longer directly responsible to you. The further out you go in the outsourcing chain, the less likely that person is as concerned about your data as you are.
  • prophet001 - Monday, September 19, 2011 - link

    I agree 100%
  • rjanakan - Sunday, September 18, 2011 - link

    With the release of vcloud connector 1.5, a vsphere based organization can build a hybrid cloud easily with a vcloud service provider. Bandwidth and latency needs to be considered even if the organization wants to setup a DR or secondary site of their own for business continuity. Planning those with a service provider makes the DR or capacity on demand (CoD) an opex based model with outsourced risks than a capital intensive project/service.

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