IT Executives: Choice Is Critical In Private Cloud Journey

Forget about political battles pitting one private or public cloud solution set versus another.

IT executives at the EMC World conference in Boston Tuesday said choice and openness are critical as they build out their private cloud infrastructures. That is also a key message from EMC with regard to its private cloud offerings. What's more, IT executives said the journey to the cloud will take years.

"I don't buy this whole business of vendor lock-in in a virtual world," said Guy Chapman, senior engineer, enterprise storage and virtual infrastructure, for SunGuard, a data recovery giant headquartered in Wayne, Pa. "An EMC-Cisco cloud or an HP cloud or a Dell cloud would be completely missing the point," he said. "Cloud is about the point where you stop caring. It's about my users saying to me: 'I want this service level, performance level, consistency, space, CPUs and RAM. I want this job to be done.' It's not a religion. We very much have a choice in everything."

Chapman said the journey to the private cloud is going to take years. "I am not even sure what the end point is," he said. "It is going to be a long journey." He said the cloud has been maligned by marketing buzz. "It is service-oriented IT," he said. "It is IT as a service. That is what we are trying to deliver. We are not trying to deliver virtual machines, but service."

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Andrew Fuss, manager of technology and engineering for CharterCARE Health Partners, Providence, R.I., said he also is determined not to be locked into a single vendor in the journey to the private cloud.

CharterCare, for its part, recently evaluated servers from Cisco, HP, IBM and Dell. His advice to the CIO: "The deciding factor came down to what would connect the best way with the best performance to the network. I am not worried about what the chassis is or what the processors are.

"It's all about getting as much as you can out of the equipment you have," said Fuss. "If I can put 50 VMware servers on one box or use an old box for a failover, that is what matters."

Fuss said he anticipates the move to private cloud taking a couple of years to "get it completely robust."

NEXT: Advice For Solution Providers

As to advice for solution providers looking to partner with CharterCARE, Fuss said the key is "the knowledge they bring to the table and how they bring it to the table.

"You don't want somebody coming to the table that claims they know everything and know what fits you from meeting you and talking with you for one second," he said. "I have seen that from a couple of vendors. It is almost cookie cutter.

"That doesn't work," Fuss said. "The relationship a partner can really build is when they come to the table, analyze the business, step us through the technology, show us the options of the technology. There is nothing worse than getting a quote or first pass with one option. That absolutely tells me these people aren't thinking. I want choices. That is what VMware, deduplication and backup to disk is. It is [about] choices."

Fuss said he is interested in seeing multiple technology options, along with the strengths and weaknesses of each solution and different price points based on the IT budget cycle."Some vendors just want to sell a service or product or themselves," he said.

Chapman, for his part, said it is critical that solution providers do a better job of independent verification of the "metrics to measure the ROI [return on investment] deliverables."

"We don’t have great input from the solution providers on the metrics that are necessary to prove precisely what vendor ROI is," he said. "It might not be key the first time you go to the finance director, but it will be key the second, third, fourth or fifth. Eventually he will push back and say, 'You said last time you were going to save us $10 million over three years. Show me the money.' That is something we want to see from solution providers."

Chapman said he is also interested in solution providers doing a critical deep dive on multiple technology choices. "I do not have the time, energy or the resources to understand every new vendor offering as it comes along," he said. "So what I am looking for from a solutions partner is real, deep knowledge of a wide variety of different platforms so they can help me to make the right technology choice at each stage. So every time I buy some new product I want them to come in and I want them to help me make the best technology choice."