Virtualization vs Cloud – The Cloud Manager


In my current role, I’m challenged with building a private cloud for fairly large government organization.  Most organizations have embraced the concept of virtualization and have started to at least virtualize workloads that make since such as webservers, file and print.  Forward thinking organizations have even embraced virtualizing high performance workloads such as Exchange and Database servers.

What I’ve found is that moving to the next phase of Cloud computing has been a bigger challenge.  For the right organizations a Private Cloud can have some great advantages.  Specifically, if an organization has dynamic workloads with the need to scale up and down based on use. A private Cloud could provide cost and operational benefits.

The most challenging part of the design process has nothing to do with virtualization.  It has been finding the right Cloud Manager.  A Cloud Manager pulls all of the underlying components of your virtual data center – Disk, Hypervisor(s), CPU and Memory and allows you to establish business rules around these components to allow users to self-provision services and provides a charge back vehicle.   I’m especially interested Cloud Managers that support Infrastructure as a Service.

There are plenty of Cloud Managers out there.  VMware has vCloud Director, Novell has Cloud Manager which is built on their Orchestrator product, Dell has a self service solution and then there are open source solutions that have closed source products.  These include Euclyputs and Abiquo. Rackspace sponsors a purely opensource project called OpenCloud.  I don’t even want to get into Cloud Manager as a service offerings and Microsoft’s Hybrid approach.

These products are all very young relative to virtualization.  Some have some great features both the Novell and Dell offerings are built on data center Orchestration products which gives and incredible amount of flexibility for both virtual servers and physical servers.  The Dell solution let’s you move workloads from virtual to physical hardware which for a private cloud is a great feature.  Novell also has a suite of products they purchased from Platespin that helps strengthen their data center automation.

The “pure” hypervisor focused solutions have great features as well.  VMware’s vCloud has of course a very high level of integration with VMWare but doesn’t work with other hypervisors.  So, if you have SLA’s that don’t require ESX then it’s overpriced and you’re locked in to VMWare.

Abiquo allows you to move from hypervisor platform to a different hypervisor platform and supports a wide range of hypervisors and even supports Amazon.  The challenge is that they are a small and new company.  For a large organization this is no small risk.  I do like their solution however.

And all of these solutions are highly complex requiring at the minimum of a week of professional services and in some cases 6 weeks for orchestration based solutions.

This has really been a learning experience.  Do you have a Cloud Manager solution that you’ve found to be great or any lessons learned that you can share?  Or did your organization decide to build your own Cloud Manager?

One thought on “Virtualization vs Cloud – The Cloud Manager”

  1. Great topic. I wrote a personal blog article at Veolia Environnement about the direction I thought technology may head…I focused a bit on organizations moving to private clouds versus public clouds and the benefits of such a move.

    There was a recent article on Digg.com about Digg’s Infrastructure. They mentioned that they used Puppet from Puppet Labs. Of course they ran Debian GNU/Linux servers.

    Personally, I am slowly directing my attention to open-source server infrastructure and private cloud-based service offerings, with a primary concentration on Ubuntu Cloud.

    Keep up the great work.

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