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All-in-one systems simplify OpenStack private clouds

OpenStack has been an option for advanced users for many years, but new combinations match server hardware with enterprise support.

OpenStack isn't exactly a set-it and forget-it type of platform, but hardware and software vendors have solved...

that with pre-configured systems.

For five years, Dell has worked with advanced users who run OpenStack private clouds, but the company has heard from more mainstream IT users who want a pre-packaged and stable setup.

The third-generation Dell Red Hat Cloud Solution combines Linux 7 and Dell PowerEdge R630 and R730xd high-density rack servers with a stable core infrastructure and the ability to add SDN and other industry-specific add-ons, according to Dell. It includes prescribed configurations for compute, infrastructure, networking and multiple storage options.

The new systems should make OpenStack easier to consume and operationalize with an enterprise support lifeline.

"Most [small companies] do not want to wrap their business around Linux," said Chris France, regional president of Advance2000, an IT services provider in North Carolina.

But, some see OpenStack private clouds as a better option than public clouds, in part because public clouds may not include the data protections a business needs.

"My clients are scared to death of the public cloud," France added.

Some enterprises are also attracted to private clouds because it may cost less than the ongoing costs of a public cloud.

My clients are scared to death of the public cloud; I think private cloud is a hot commodity.
Chris FranceAdvance 2000

"[Public cloud] looks cheap but it gets incrementally expensive," said Lauren Nelson, an analyst at Forrester Research in Cambridge, Mass.

The Dell-Red Hat system with OpenStack is suited for Software as a Service and security companies -- companies starting from scratch without legacy platforms and enterprises with multiple users connecting to self-storage tools, such as researchers, according to Dell.

It could also be used to support high-compute cycles, rendering and number crunching and the healthcare industry, France said.

"It is a good way to get a lot of computing power for less money," he said, comparing it to the cost of a traditional server-storage infrastructure.

The cost of a small Dell-Red Hat system starts at $120,000 and the price increases based on configurations and services.

Other private cloud systems built on OpenStack include AMD and Canonical's OpenStack Private Cloud in a Box and HP's Helion Rack. Some vendors build and support OpenStack private clouds for customers, such as Cisco OpenStack Private Cloud. The products are all designed to remove complexity, stabilize OpenStack and reduce the risk in deploying a private cloud.

While these systems make OpenStack accessible to more IT shops, many companies are concerned about vendor lock-in, France said.

"They want to be mobile and move their compute loads," he said.

Indeed, companies interested in OpenStack are driven by a desire to reduce proprietary hardware spending, avoid hardware lock-in and get out of expensive software licensing agreements.

Next Steps

Cost, performance gives OpenStack an edge

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What stumbling points do you see in building a private cloud?
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- Budgeting for on-demand resources
- Lack of skills around automation
- Getting the existing silos to think about delivering services instead of just technology
- Delivering an experience that is somewhat on-par with what developers could get on their own from public cloud
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