EMC sees alternate private cloud vision

Company redefines a private cloud network as one that's linked seamlessly with external data centers, and is working to completely virtualize its data centers to achieve this vision, says exec.
Written by Kevin Kwang, Contributor

EMC says a private cloud network is one with a "cloud-like" internal data center that has highly virtualized pools of compute, storage and network capabilities, but is also able to seamlessly link up with external data centers run by third-party providers.

According to Tom Roloff, senior vice president for EMC consulting, this is the "future state" of the private cloud that EMC is moving toward, as well as advising its customers to develop.

Speaking to ZDNet Asia in an interview, he said while companies can build internal data centers toward a "more and more cloud-like" state through virtualization, EMC's definition of a private cloud includes data centers connecting to external ones.

"If you do not have common architectures, processes, tools and policies--like security policies--these two environments will not seamlessly interoperate. Without interconnecting these [internal and public] data centers, customers won't have the ability to move workloads seamlessly between them," said Roloff.

This "future state" vision runs counter to current understanding of what a private cloud is, which was described in an earlier ZDNet Asia report as a proprietary computing environment that provides hosted services to a limited number of people behind a firewall.

When asked if EMC came up with an alternate private cloud definition because the current one is inaccurate, Roloff said: "Given that this is still a very young market, I'm not sure if there is a market-wide definition that everyone has agreed to, so it's not up to me to say a definition is wrong."

He added, though, that EMC's focus is to discuss and showcase how it thinks customers can "get to a place where they are embracing the private cloud".

To this end, he noted that the company is currently working toward completely virtualizing its data center as a "blueprint" for customers to follow on their journey to developing a private cloud.

EMC's internal data center is currently 50 percent virtualized, and it will take another two years for it to reach 100 percent, he added.

Elaborating further, Roloff stated that to realize the promise of private clouds, it is ultimately dependent on fully virtualizing data centers, although he did qualify that private clouds can run in data centers which are not completely virtualized.

"It's not an either-or [situation]. Once both the enterprise's internal data centers and their external data center partners reach near-100 percent virtualization, the two environments can be seamlessly connected and workloads can be [shared] more easily across such boundaries," he said.

Consultancy arm expands reach in Asia-Pacific
The consulting arm of EMC, with about 2,000 employees, only has a small presence in Asia-Pacific as much of its focus is on the North America and Europe markets, Roloff said, noting that this situation is "not representative" of EMC's overall business strategy.

He is keen to grow the consultancy business in the region, though, as his team engages in more dialogues with companies.

Large banks, multinational companies and large telcos are some of more receptive sectors to cloud adoption, and the team is focused on these areas to grow its business in the region, he added.

The exec also pointed out how more companies in the Asia-Pacific region are talking about building cloud infrastructures from the start, as they hope to gain a competitive edge by leapfrogging existing legacy IT architectures that other organizations might be bogged down with.

"This is a conversation that I have more in Asia than anywhere else," Roloff said.

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