OpSource Takes on Amazon, IBM, and Rackspace

OpSource, a company that delivers back-end services to software-as-a-service (SaaS) providers today announced the beta release OpSource Cloud, an offering the company calls “the first cloud to bring together the flexibility, availability and community of the public cloud with the security, performance and controls the enterprise demands.”

The announcement comes just two days after Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) announced the
Virtual Private Cloud (VPC), an offering for those who want to keep Amazon’s public cloud service within their private datacenter.

Also this week, cloud provider Rackspace Hosting (NYSE: RAX) announced Cloud Tools, a product designed to make a cloud easier to manage.

But too many cloud offerings still lack enterprise-level controls, Treb Ryan, OpSource CEO, told InternetNews.com. “Giving an administrator unlimited CPUs is like giving my daughter a cell phone with unlimited texting without the right plan. It’s not a good idea,” he said.

The OpSource Cloud gives companies granular control and accountability according to role or line of business, but not yet for each person. The number of different credentials a company can have is virtually unlimited at this time, Ryan said, allowing customers to track usage down to the level they choose.

Ryan added that traditional cloud architectures do not provide any guarantee concerning the latency between systems within a cloud offering. A cloud-based virtual machine (VM) hosting a Web server may not be near to the cloud-based VM hosting the database server or the cloud-based VM hosting the load balancer or firewall.

By contrast, customers connect to the OpSource Cloud through a VPN that passes through a dedicated load balancer and firewall to redundant servers with sub-millisecond access times, allowing OpSource to offer a 100 percent availability service level agreement (SLA) as well as other valuable guarantees, Ryan said.

Ryan added that most cloud providers do not offer configurable servers. Industry expert Phil Wainewright, a consultant to OpSource, agreed. “A fixed menu of machine configurations makes it easier for the cloud provider but adds management headaches for enterprises, who don’t want to have to support different configurations in the cloud from what they already use on-premise,” Wainewright, CEO of Procullux Ventures, wrote in an e-mail to InternetNews.com.

Exact pricing was not disclosed. The beta will end and the full product will be released on October 2.

Trashing the competition

Ryan that many cloud offerings currently on the market have several
flaws: they are not SAS-70 compliant; offer weak SLAs that have no guarantees with regard to latency; and offer only one set of credentials per business customer.

“First-generation cloud providers have been catering to an early adopter market that largely didn’t care about enterprise-class standards like SAS-70, so it’s no surprise they’ve postponed the cost and disruption of a Type II audit,” Wainewright agreed.

“One of the basic enterprise requirements for any cloud service is delegated user administration, so that a team can share access to the service but with different levels of role-based rights. Neither AWS nor Rackspace Cloud Servers offer this most basic of functions as standard, leaving customers and partners to engineer it on top of the API, but still through a single master account that will always have root access, creating a major vulnerability,” Wainewright added.

Cloud providers were quick to respond to the criticism.

“It’s not true that we force a business to use one set of credentials,” an Amazon representative said in an e-mail to InternetNews.com. “Any organization or person can set up as many accounts as they want — some want to use their familiar/existing Amazon.com account, while most choose to set up a new account that they just use for AWS.”

Jonathan Bryce, co-founder of The Rackspace Cloud, said in an e-mail to InternetNews.com “Currently, with The Rackspace Cloud you can create multiple sub-accounts on an account who can all contact support, but there is a 1-to-1 relationship between logins and accounts. We intend to improve this by adding a more thorough tracking system to connect individual users with actions taken on the Control Panel or the API. Right now, it’s harder to determine who went in and took an action, but it’s not a deal breaker for most of our customers.”

IBM’s cloud plans remain nascent, but the rollout continues, said an IBM representative in an e-mail to InternetNews.com.

“IBM has announced a number of enterprise-grade public and private cloud computing options for clients. We have provided roadmaps by workload based on where clients see value, and intend to offer various choices of delivery with the qualities of service clients expect from IBM,” IBM’s representative said.

“Today, LotusLive is IBM’s first public cloud offering. It’s paid for by seat with a flexible subscription model and named user accounts. Additional public cloud offerings will be in market this year,” IBM’s representative added.

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