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Vancouver-based firm CA Cloud is offering CIOs the chance to run their own private cloud implementations, using open sourced cloud platform OpenStack.

The benefits of cloud computing are well understood: elasticity, cost-effectiveness, and the option for automation and self-provisioning of services. For many companies, moving to a public cloud-based infrastructure (where lots of customers share a single server) is too risky. Heavy regulation and compliance issues, along with their own security concerns, may prevent them being part of a multi-tenanted environment.

Many may not have the time or resource to build up a cloud infrastructure outside their own organisation. Private clouds, are another option, in which the same automation benefits are provided on a dedicated computing system for a single customer.

CA Cloud is a division of Canadian Web Hosting. The company is Canadian, and so is able to take Canadian companies’ privacy requirements into account, said chief strategy officer Matt McKinney. The firm already offers private cloud solutions powered by VMware, but now it’s offering an OpenStack version. Why would CIOs care what runs at the back end, though?

Developed by data centre giant RackSpace in 2010, OpenStack is designed to handle all the tasks that come along with cloud computing. It handles a variety of virtualised components, including virtual machines, block storage, and networking.

OpenStack logo

The open sourced nature of the platform is a key advantage for customers, according to McKinney, because it makes the system more flexible. “OpenStack has a highly active community that is focused on creating a usable and competitive platform with thousands of contributors,” he said. “It’s highly modular and customizable, and has no vendor lock-in.”

Traditionally, there has been a trade-off for this flexibility: usability. Traditionally, OpenStack hasn’t been packaged for the enterprise. Like many open source projects, administrators have to roll up their sleeves to work with it, instead of enjoying that smooth, seamless out-of-the-box experience that proprietary commercial cloud software vendors invest so much time creating.

McKinney said that OpenStack isn’t a complete and perfect system. Neither was it designed to be, he added.

“For it to be fully appreciated, it needs the infrastructure that can run the operating systems, and for end users you also need a service provider that has the infrastructure to help them run, install, support and manage these environments.”

CA Cloud offering is taking advantage of automation technology from a third company within McKinney’s group: Auro. That company focuses on public cloud computing using OpenStack, and much of its technology has made its way into the private cloud implementation.

“Auro’s infrastructure makes it easy to onboard into the cloud and comes with the customer support, easy installation, tools for cloud management, and all the other important pieces, like one-click application installation and deployments,” McKinney said.

“We don’t want our customers to have to worry about installing OpenStack including elements like Neutron networking, or configuring their distributed storage,” he added.

CA Cloud isn’t the only OpenStack private cloud solution on the market. Blue Box has an interesting approach, in that it offers not only hosted OpenStack public clouds, but recently announced a managed on-premise solution, where it will set up and maintain your cloud servers for you, on-site. The company just raised $4m in its B-round, making a total $14m in funding so far. Blue Box is based in Seattle, though, whereas CA Cloud is capitalising on its Canadian location.

Prices start at $65 for a single tenant test system at CA Cloud, moving to $2099 per month for five bare metal servers and local storage.



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