Your Infrastructure Choices: A cloud is not a cloud…is not a cloud

July 16, 2009 by Brian Wolff

Cloud computing providers differ in two main ways: people and control.  No two cloud services are alike for that very reason and people and control are the two variables that differentiate cloud computing providers from one another.

The definition of cloud computing varies everywhere, but some main characteristics of “the cloud” are: virtualization, capacity on demand, shared resources and subscription-based pricing.  If you fit that bill you’re a cloud, but which segmentation of cloud?

It’s either:

SaaS (Software as a Service) – The web-facing software that users interact with (i.e. SalesForce or Google Apps)
PaaS (Platform as a Service) – a platform that helps utilize cloud resources (i.e. RightScale or rPath)
Or IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) – the actual infrastructure behind the cloud, the virtualized servers and network (i.e. BlueLock, GoGrid or your internal cloud)

For purposes of this post, we’re going to focus on Infrastructure as a Service (makes sense because that’s what we’re experts at).  From here, there are also a few different type of IaaS clouds (surprise, surprise!) and their characteristics, to make things just a little more interesting.  Here they are:

Private internal cloud:
-    Limited Capacity
-    Expensive
-    Highly Secure
-    Enterprise Features
-    Self Managed

Public utility cloud
-    Limitless Capacity
-    Lower cost
-    Self Managed (DIY)
-    No/DIY SLA
-    No/DIY Security

Full-service public cloud
-    Large Capacity
-    Fully Managed
-    Customized Security
-    Enterprise Features
-    Enterprise Services
-    SLA

Back to IaaS cloud differentiation – again, all about people and control.  First, you have to decide how much control of the infrastructure you want, can manage or more importantly, can afford.  Then take a look at the other components that will affect your costs in the cloud (some of these you may already have):

-    Hardware & software
-    Licenses
-    People
-    Place

If you’re looking at a do-it-yourself platform like Amazon EC2, you’ll have to purchase your own people and they’ve have to monitor, control and manage the infrastructure.  With this option you’ve got a lot more control, but a much higher TCO – because those people are going to cost you lots of money.  But if you don’t have the people, or you want them to focus on something else, like your core business (i.e. your software solution) instead of the infrastructure then a trusted full-service cloud option like BlueLock makes a lot more sense and could save you about $50,000 a year

How’s that even possible?  When you purchase a BlueLock solution, you’re not only purchasing the infrastructure and place to house that infrastructure, you’re purchasing the people and expertise behind it – meaning less employee costs for you (or more beneficial employee costs).  Some would argue you lose a little control because your people, your team isn’t the one working on the infrastructure, but others think that a partner like BlueLock is just an extension of their own team – and a better use of their IT budget at that.  Take Projetech for instance – watch this video and you’ll see that they really see BlueLock as an extension of their company not just another vendor, and that’s the way we like to think about it too.