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Recent Developments in Private Clouds.

While most of the initial interest in cloud computing focused on companies that offered their cloud services for businesses to use as they need, there has recently been a shift towards so-called private clouds. These private clouds leverage an existing data centre infrastructure to provide scalable infrastructure throughout the business, at the times it is needed.

Nimbula is the latest company to release their software to the public, currently in the form of an open public beta trial. Their newly launched proprietary cloud operating system, Nimbula Director, aims to mimic the Amazon EC2 public infrastructure cloud within the corporate data centre. It is also designed to fully automate the process of creating the private cloud by exposing a Representational State Transfer (REST) API, which is then accessed through a web console or the command line.

Designed to install on bare-metal servers and supporting both KVM and Xen hypervisors, Nimbula is intended to provide access to computing resources as required, by load-balancing and distributing numerous applications across the entire estate, whilst making the data available resiliently and reliably in multiple different locations.

In addition to Nimbula, there are a couple of other private cloud offerings that are currently available, Eucalyptus and OpenStack, both of which are, at least partially, open-source. OpenStack was created by RackSpace and NASA and is designed to be very scalable, which is the main problem that Eucalyptus suffers from. All three of these products is designed to be built from the ground up and could require lots of time and effort to migrate an existing infrastructure to, so is more likely to be utilized by new systems during the initial design and development phase or as a new hosting platform for an existing application.

An alternative process was conceived by Gridcentric with their Copper application, which is designed to rapidly create copies of existing virtual machines on-the-fly. By continuing to run with existing hardware and software platforms, this method reduces the time taken to realize fully scalable applications, with the benefit of centralized management. This approach is more likely to be popular for applications that need to be scalable for periods of increased demand.

The ability of a business to build its own cloud to its particular requirements is something that is going to become increasingly popular over the next few years. These new products might be the first in the market, but sooner or later, the big players are going to move into this marketplace, either by releasing their own products, or more likely through acquisition or merger.

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