CloudSigma Lets Customers Match Cloud Service to Existing Data Center

CloudSigma’s co-founder, Robert Jenkins, says big cloud vendors such as Rackspace and Amazon Web Services (AWS) don’t give their customers the ability to configure their cloud environment to mirror their on-premise data centers.

While major cloud service providers€”such as Amazon Web Services, Rackspace, Google and soon Microsoft€”get all the attention, CloudSigma approaches the market by giving customers more choice on how they can configure their cloud is service.

CloudSigma, which was founded in 2009 and launched its service in 2010, lets customers control their own software configurations, network optimization or server demands for their cloud deployment. In essence, it lets the customer set up their cloud environment to most closely match their on-premise data center setup.

€œIf you look at these clouds such as Rackspace or AWS and most of the big guys out there, they all have similar infrastructure and you€™re giving up a lot of control over the software layer, over the networking or the [tailoring] of hardware. These are the things that you have in dedicated hosting and you lose that in the cloud,€ said Robert Jenkins, co-founder and chief technology officer of CloudSigma.

It turns out that IT professionals actually prize flexibility over cost savings of cloud computing. According to a 2011 survey by the Cloud Industry Forum, 53 percent of those surveyed cited flexibility as the main driver of their decision to move to the cloud. Only 16 percent cited cost savings as the main driver.

Flexibility is an important advantage for CloudSigma to offer because customers have a better idea of what cloud configuration works best for them than a giant cloud service provider, Jenkins said.

€œYou can take advantage of the knowledge base that you have within your company or organization in terms of what runs best, performance optimization, all the things that you have when you build up [your data center] over the years and you can deploy that in the cloud,€ he said.

With rigid deployment options, pricing schemes and resource bundles, the larger IaaS (infrastructure-as-a-service) vendors often force companies to change their computing infrastructure when moving to the cloud. What€™s more, by bundling their cloud computing with related areas such as storage, these large providers often aren€™t able to offer best-of-breed solutions that may be elsewhere on the market, Jenkins said.

Microsoft is likely to follow the same inflexible model as Rackspace, Amazon or the others when it offers Windows Azure€“the cloud version of Windows Server€“as an IaaS product; Azure is already the centerpiece of Microsoft€™s PaaS (platform-as-a-service) offering.

Interestingly enough, Scott Guthrie, corporate vice president of the Windows Azure application platform, described the Azure cloud on a June 7 Web cast as €œa really powerful and flexible way to do [cloud].€

But flexible is a relative term, said Carl Brooks, a research analyst in the Internet Infrastructure Services area at Tier 1 Research, a unit of 451 Research. He says there€™s some truth to CloudSigma€™s argument that it offers a more flexible cloud service to customers than can the big service providers.

€œOne of the things that differentiates CloudSigma is that they are able to uncouple and recouple, compute, memory and disk-sized instances in almost any variety of configuration that you want,€ Brooks said. €œThat€™s not a technologically amazing feat, but it is different than you get when you sign up with Amazon or Rackspace where you get a sort of T-shirt sized approach of small, medium, large or extra-large in a predefined format.€

On the other hand, the big cloud providers have a significant advantage over companies such as CloudSigma in their ability to scale, Brooks said.

€œYou€™re better off at one of the bigger cloud providers if you want access to a global scale platform. The great benefit that Amazon has is that, one, it pioneered this model of selling IT and, two, it operates a truly global platform where you get the same experience in Singapore that you can get in Virginia or in Oregon,€ he said.