By Tim Burke
By now you've probably noticed this year's scrabble of "private cloud-in-a-box" offerings, and you may be tempted to resell one of them in response to your customers' intensifying interest in cloud computing.
After all, customers like the idea of a private cloud, which provides many of the advantages of a public cloud, such as pay-as-you-go opex and on-demand provisioning and scaling, but with key improvements that address concerns about security, privacy, uptime and control of data.
Building a private cloud from scratch, however, can be daunting from technical and cost perspectives. Hence the rise of pre-built cloud-in-a-box products that seem to remove at least some of the risk and hassle of launching a private cloud. Just buy one, deploy it as a local cloud behind your customer's firewall, and collect your fee and wave goodbye.
For the vendor of your private cloud-in-a-box, desperate to stave off the bottom-line implications of customers' shift from using technology products to using technology services, this is where the story ends. But the tale continues for your customer — and, too often, it isn't a fairy tale.
That's because more security, more privacy, more uptime and more control of data requires more hands-on planning and management. Ironically, this is the same hands-on planning and management that customers happily pass off to their public cloud services providers. After all, when it comes to the public cloud, the deal for the customer is "we make it all work." This is simply not the case when a customer chooses to build a private cloud or deploy a private cloud-in-a-box. All the behind-the-scenes responsibilities of a public cloud service provider remain unresolved in these private clouds.
Leaving them unresolved will doom a private cloud deployment. Who, then, figures out what these responsibilities are and who will take them on as your customers' private clouds are implemented? In the answer(s) to this question lie(s) both the challenge and, for channel partners, significant new opportunity.
So let's take a quick look at private cloud challenges. They fall into two groups — implementation and management — with a host of issues concerning each one that are best expressed as questions.