Unisys, Rackspace Launch Private Cloud Services

Unisys and Rackspace unveiled private cloud services that combine the convenience of a managed hosting service with the scalability and cost benefits of cloud computing.

Unisys and Rackspace rolled out private cloud offerings that combine cloud computing efficiencies, potential cost savings, and scalability, with the convenience and security of managed hosting services, at the Gartner Data Center Conference in Las Vegas this week.

The Unisys Hosted Secure Private Cloud offers customers a cloud infrastructure that is deployed and managed remotely. Customers retain control over computing resources but still have the on-demand provisioning and automation capabilities of the cloud, Unisys said.

Rackspace approached the integration somewhat differently-its Cloud Connect service is a private network that connects the customer's applications and systems running on the company's public cloud with the systems running on its managed hosting service. Cloud Connect essentially expands the managed hosting service by letting customers access cloud resources seamlessly, Rackspace said.

Organizations look to cloud computing for the "cost-efficiency" and flexibility of tapping into more IT resources, but they tend to prefer a private cloud for the "enhanced security and control," said Sam Gross, vice-president of global IT outsourcing at Unisys.

In private clouds, the hardware is dedicated to a specific organization, not shared across multiple customers, as is the case with a public cloud infrastructure. With the Unisys private cloud, computing, storage, network and middleware resources are dedicated to each customer, but customers can use automation tools to add virtual and physical hosts on-demand to their private cloud, according to the company.

Provisioning "typically occurs within one hour," said Alan Bender, global manager of Secure Cloud at Unisys.

Unisys Hosted Secure Private cloud will be managed in a Unisys client services center, and each cloud infrastructure will be managed through the Unisys Converged Remote Infrastructure Management Suite, Unisys said.

Customers signing up for the Unisys platform provision the cloud with just the resources they need rather than having to worry about building in additional capacity to allow for growth or calculating for extra storage and resources as a buffer. Unisys will charge a flat monthly fee for the provisioned cloud resources actually being used and charge for the additional resources on a pay-as-you-go basis, the company said. If the customer needs more capacity-to handle a spike in traffic or to process a larger volume of data, for example-the customer can request additional resources using the dynamic provisioning tool and pay just for what's used, according to Unisys.

While customers have to pay for the server when requesting additional computing power, (such as CPU and memory), storage is treated differently, said Bender. Unisys will provide additional storage in slices on-demand and charge only for that storage segment, he said. So, organizations don't have to calculate what resources to have ahead of time or purchase additional infrastructure, nor do they have to worry about paying for resources they are not using.

The Hosted Secure Private Cloud is a private cloud that is "both practical and cost-efficient," Gross said.

Unisys will also allow customers to integrate Unisys Stealth to add an extra level of security by cloaking data moving around the cloud, said the company. The Stealth product is available on both Unisys' public and private clouds, Bender said.

The Unisys Hosted Secure Private Cloud expands Unisys' existing cloud offerings, which include the public Unisys Secure Cloud and the private Unisys Secure Private Cloud.

Rackspace's Cloud Connect service combines the "scalability and cost benefits of Rackspace Cloud" with the "security and configurability" of a dedicated managed host over a private network, according to the company.

As a "connection between traditional hosting and cloud," Cloud Connect is a high-speed, low-latency network that allows customers to access both services, said John Engates, CTO of Rackspace, to eWEEK. A customer might currently have a dedicated hosting service with databases, Web server, and a storage area network, he said. Previously, customers couldn't take advantage of the Rackspace cloud unless they moved everything to the cloud, which might not be an option because of compliance or security issues, he said.

If they moved just the Web server, they were forced to move the data between the database in the dedicated server environment to the Web server in the cloud over the public Internet, which was slow, generated expensive bandwidth costs and was "potentially insecure," according to Engates. Cloud Connect allows the environments to "blend together seamlessly," he said.

Rackspace will secure the connection from hosting to the cloud, apply policies, and scale the service, said Engates.

To get Cloud Connect, customers need to have a Cisco firewall or F5 load balancer that meet minimum technical requirements and have applications running on both the Rackspace Cloud and on Rackspace's hosted servers, said Engates. It's just a "matter of submitting a ticket" to enable Cloud Connect, and there are no fees just for transferring from hosting to the cloud, he said.

He noted, however, that Rackspace has some older data centers that currently do not have cloud capabilities. Rackspace will work with managed hosting services customers currently in those data centers interested in Cloud Connect to "move or migrate" applications, he said.

The Dallas and Chicago data centers have cloud capabilities, and London is expected to have it by the end of the year or early 2011, and that will "cover a majority of customers," Engates said.