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Understanding the rise of cloud management platforms and turnkey OpenStack solutions

Posted by Hans Ashlock June 4, 2015
Understanding the rise of cloud management platforms and turnkey OpenStack solutions

The private cloud seems like an ideal way to enable self-service, elasticity and resource pooling while still retaining a high level of control over infrastructure. In reality, however, many or even most private cloud implementations fail. The causes of failure run the gamut from not doing enough (i.e., cloudwashing some additional virtualization as a "private cloud") to doing too much by optimizing for everything, which is effectively like optimizing for nothing.

Overcoming obstacles to private cloud implementation with turnkey solutions and cloud management platforms
Research firm Gartner has chronicled the widespread struggle to get the private cloud right. Its survey of 140 individuals (who all had private clouds in place) at its December 2014 Datacenter Conference in Las Vegas found that 95 percent of them had encountered one or more of a common range of setbacks related to private cloud.

In a way, these findings are not surprising, especially in light of longstanding concerns about private cloud scalability in general and the technical challenges of OpenStack in particular. Compared to what's achievable through public cloud platforms such as Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Platform or Microsoft Azure, private cloud can seem limited and overly challenging.

"[A]s I've heard from a range of companies, a dirty secret of OpenStack is that it starts to fall over and can't scale past 30 nodes if you are running plain vanilla main trunk OpenStack software," observed MongoDB vice president Matt Asay in his column for ReadWrite. "That's a pretty damning indictment, yes, though perhaps less cause for concern than originally appears."

The reason for optimism is that vanilla OpenStack, prone as it is to difficult migrations and problematic scaling, is relatively rare in the wild. In fact, turnkey OpenStack private cloud solutions have been on the rise recently, despite concerns about vendor lock-in. Cloud management platforms that can automate and orchestrate all types of infrastructure are also simplifying the transition to OpenStack-based clouds.

Private cloud implementation is beset by challenges.Private cloud implementation is beset by challenges.

HP, Juniper enter increasingly crowded turnkey solutions market
Many legacy vendors have moved quickly to incorporate OpenStack into their solutions. In addition to VMware's inclusion of its own flavor of OpenStack into vCloud for NFV, HP recently announced the turnkey Helion Rack. It bundles OpenStack and Cloud Foundry with HP hardware.

"Many organizations have their eyes on a private cloud but need a path to get to it."

Juniper has made a similar move with its Contrail Cloud Platform, built on Contrail Networking and Juniper's own OpenStack distribution. The inclusion of an SDN fabric is critical to helping private clouds avoid congestion and adequately scale in the face of evolving demand.

These turnkey solutions as well as cloud management platforms such as QualiSystems CloudShell have come to the fore at a moment when many organizations have their eyes on a private cloud but need a path to get to it. Legacy infrastructure must be accounted for and OpenStack setup must be simplified. To these ends, procuring intuitive private cloud solutions is becoming a bigger priority that avoiding lock-in.

The takeaway: The proliferation of turnkey OpenStack solutions and cloud management platforms has its roots in the natural challenges of setting up a private cloud. That is, private cloud implementations often suffer from corner-cutting and technical setbacks (e.g., making the move away from legacy infrastructure). Expect to see more cloud solutions that simplify private cloud transitions and setup hit the market in the years ahead.

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