January 11, 2011
If service providers isolate their new cloud computing networks in dedicated data centers apart from other revenue-generating services, they limit their opportunities for growth and add complexity to service delivery models. One cloud and managed hosting provider has proven that building a hybrid hosting environment requires some creative engineering -- not a new data center.
Rackspace US reconfigured existing devices in its data centers to launch and automate a new service bridging formerly separate networks. This approach reduced cost and complexity for the service provider and its customers.
Rackspace built its data centers more than a decade ago to support managed hosting services, building custom mini-networks for each individual customer, according to Toby Owen, product manager for hybrid hosting at Rackspace. Multitenant cloud computing architecture required the opposite approach. When it rolled out its cloud services a few years ago, Rackspace built a separate network to support them.
If customers wanted to link their hosted and cloud environments, they had to buy a separate VPN product and pay for the bandwidth, which provided a typically sluggish connection, Owen said. The lack of high-quality hybrid hosting made the cloud services somewhat unattractive to customers who had invested heavily in dedicated hosting.
"We've seen increasing demand and usefulness in having cloud [infrastructure] be a part of a customer's managed configuration -- or having those two environments connected so a single application could use pieces of both," Owen said.
"We needed something to not just connect those networks, but to do it securely. We don't want to open up everyone in the cloud to a customer's hosting environment."
Hybrid hosting would allow customers to use cloud and hosting services in a complementary fashion to handle unpredictable spikes in traffic in Web-based applications and services more efficiently, Owen said.
Shanthi Ravindran and Glen Ragoonanan/Analysys Mason
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