Do you know what cloudbursting is? It is a concept where when you run out of your computing resources in your internal data center, you “burst” the additional workload to an external cloud on an on-demand basis. The internal computing resource is the “Private Cloud” and the external cloud is typically a “public cloud” for which the organization gets charged on a pay-per-use basis. When your deployment has the ability to do “cloudbursting” or spreading the load to the public cloud, you essentially have a Hybrid Cloud.
Hybrid Clouds can deliver a bit more functionality that just a “cloudbursting”. They help you to potentially balance the load, etc. While Hybrid Cloud is a very good concept, there are a number of things to consider including security, performance, making enterprise-class services available, and more.
A few companies have tried to solve this problem with the prominent one being a startup named CloudSwitch. If an enterprise has a VMware based internal data center, CloudSwitch allows the enterprise admin to seamlessly move the workloads to public clouds of choice — such as Amazon EC2, Rackspace, and the like. They do so by utilizing their “Cloud Isolation Technology” where they make the IP and MAC addresses of the public cloud appear as if they belong to an internal network. This allows the applications to run without any change when moved to public clouds and the workload can be brought back into the internal datacenter whenever the admin wishes. Another offering working to solve this problem is Amazon’s Virtual Private Cloud. It is different from CloudSwitch in the sense that it allows the corporate environment to connect the Amazon VPC via a VPN connection. You can find the details at http://www.cloudswitch.com and http://aws.amazon.com/vpc/ for Cloudswitch and VPC respectively.
The two leaders of virtualization, Citrix and VMware, have been planning to build solutions for this. In fact, at VMworld 2010, the focus was on Secure Hybrid Clouds in Paul Mauritz’s keynote.
VMware recently announced a new class of services called vDataCenter Services. These essentially help customers build Hybrid Clouds. The caveat though is that both the private-cloud/internal-datacenter and public clouds have to be VMware-powered. The supported public clouds are BlueLock, Terremark/Verizon, Hosting.com, and others. The internal environment need not be a vCloud-powered private cloud — it can just be good old vSphere-powered. A key component of this service is vCloud Connector which connects the public and private clouds.
Citrix has a product called CloudBridge which is essentially a combination of NetScaler, Branch Repeater, and Vyatta Network OS. The model allows any customer with a Citrix-based internal datacenter to use a public cloud of their choice by using this product.
Functionally, vCloud Connector and CloudBridge are similar and both are bookend solutions. Is one better than the other and how do these guys play out with Amazon VPC and the likes of CloudSwitch? Well, I think they all serve specific areas. We’ll have to wait and see how this space evolves and which products gain more market acceptance.
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