August 3, 2011
When talking around the public cloud/private cloud use cases, the commonly accepted approach is that private cloud is for large enterprises who have particular requirements (existing infrastructure, particular regulations etc) that demand the use of internal resource. Small and medium businesses tend not to have these factors in their organization and hence their cloud use tends to be mainly at the public end of the spectrum.
Or so I thought…
Recently I had a briefing with Witsbits, a Swedish company that has created a virtualization and cloud computing platform specifically targeting small service providers selling into the SMB market. Go Cloud is essentially an in-house private cloud that is managed via an –as a Service management platform. Sounds confusing? It kind of is. The way to set up an internal cloud with Witsbits is to;
- Sign up to the service
- Download the Witsbits ISO image and either burn to CD/DVD or USB stick
- Boot physical servers directly from said CD/DVD or USB stick
- Control servers via the web-based management console
Go Cloud consists of three different components – the system users, the backend control panel, and the physical hardware itself. In practice, Witsbits reports that most customers are small service providers who offer a custom front end for their customers. The idea being that SMBs get the benefits of cloud, are able to utilize existing hardware, and are able to have the service managed for them.
In terms of pricing, Witsbits works on a straight monthly fee. Go Cloud has a freemium model with a cut down offering that is limited to 2BG vRAM and limited functionality. Thereafter plans are $3 and $30 per month – the main difference being the functionality (still planned at this stage) of backup, snapshots and migration services.
I have to say I found the Witsbits concept a little jarring at first. The idea of an internal cloud, managed by a third party but reliant on on-premise hardware seems like a recipe for disaster. I’m still not sold on the concept but viewed as an opportunity to roll out virtualization on legacy metal, and to abstract the management of that platform off to a third party, I can see that there is a degree of validity to Go Cloud as a kind of interim step on the journey from on-premises to cloud. Witsbits defines its target markets as;
- Companies with 0-99 employees
- IT consultants and VARs servicing these customers with a bundled product and services package ( servers, storage, and applications management)
- Software development companies that want to do internal testing for afew days with various patches, OS’s and physical server environments
The services that Witsbits offers customers, and their service providers, include;
- Usage statistics – Per user, Aggregated, Per account type, Partner
- Billing and Usage metering
- Health monitoring
- Management Console
- Branded Order Portal
- An API
Overall Witsbits seems like a solution that’s perfect for a different market segment than the one they’re chasing. While I can see that there might be a small number of SMB customers who want to obtain a managed internal cloud, the vast majority of these customers will be looking at public cloud offerings. In the case of organization types that do want private cloud, these guys are already really well supported by a plethora of options – cloud.com, Nimbula, Nebula etc.