CA Talks Private Cloud Benefits, Warns on Risks

As major players prepare public cloud offerings, enterprise software provider CA banking on private clouds — touting their benefits to security, scalability and better cost controls.

“Even companies that may not have an overall could strategy are deploying projects that enable a dynamic and scalable business response and improve business/IT alignment,” CA’s (NASDAQ: CA) Stephen Elliot told

CA, meanwhile, is moving to cash in. The company today unveiled management software to monitor and automate use of Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2), and has also been working on helping businesses build focused, private clouds.

That many IT vendors and buyers are exploring the cloud shouldn’t be surprising.

The comments from Elliot, vice president of strategy for CA’s infrastructure management and datacenter automation business unit, come a day after the release of a Gartner report that said that hype in cloud computing is deafening.

Yet to CA, the overwhelming interest in all things cloud doesn’t mean that enterprise can’t wring a great deal of value from a properly managed setup, according to Elliot, who is slated to discuss real-world examples of cloud infrastructure at the Next Generation Data Center Expo in San Francisco.

CA sees some key benefits to the cloud for businesses — especially when it’s taken private. For instance, the cloud could help businesses better handle security gaps, as the recession adds to security concerns.

“We’re finding that more CIOs are saying it’s partly about reducing risk,” Elliot said. “They’re thinking about how to use this technology to think though cost and risk reduction.”

Still, Elliot did caution that the cloud needs to be used intelligently.

For instance, in some cases, organizations considering deploying a private cloud might be more ambitious than they need to be. As a result, enterprises that deploy virtualization and cloud technologies need to be on the alert for “cowboy activity,” where line-of-business managers order more computing power than is reasonable.

Elliot said that pricing services internally is a great way to solve this kind of problem.

“There is a great opportunity in this environment for CIOs and the IT organization to recognize that if they put the right level of automation in the stack, they can start to manage demand with the cost controls,” he said.

“They can say, ‘here’s the cost per unit.’ They can offer silver, gold, and platinum levels of service and say, ‘if you need this level of availability, here’s the price,'” he said.

Weighing deployment options

As cloud offerings mature, Elliot said that decentralized deployments occur in distributed enterprises where the IT organization is delivering products like virtualized desktops. More centralized deployments occur in those organizations that need to create significant change.

Elliot said that enterprise IT managers should keep an eye on offerings from companies such as Verizon Business.

These new cloud providers are in the process of learning about the costs of the service they deliver and are learning how to compete, he said.

“They’re thinking about how to differentiate themselves beyond price in offering cloud services,” Elliot said. “They realize that they can differentiate their offering if they can prove the performance of their product and offer visibility and self-service.”

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