Thursday, February 5, 2009

Small Web Hosts turning to 'Mini Clouds'

It's been an interesting year so far for cloud computing "enablers" such as my firm Enomaly. It's certainly not what I was expecting. The mood for big business investing in large enterprise "cloud" infrastructures has all but disappeared. But there is another market segment quickly picking up steam. Recently I've seen a significant amount of interest from the smaller traditional VPS style hosting firms looking to create what I call "mini clouds".

These mini clouds are similar to traditional virtual private servers, but instead of using dedicated servers made up a container based virtual machines. They instead provide an EC2 like interface with a specific set of virtual applications. Unlike EC2, the focus is purely on the quick deployment and scaling of speciality applications such as Zimbra or SugarCRM or specific niche industries such as not for profits, with the added bonus of a pay per use model applied.

To give a little background, a key focus of our Enomaly ECP platform is in enabling the ability to partion clouds within larger cloud infrastructures, which we call a Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) or a method for partitioning a public computing utility such as EC2 into quarantined virtual infrastructure. A VPC may encapsulate multiple local and remote resources to appear as a single homogeneous computing environment bridging the ability to securely utilize remote resources as part of an seamless global compute infrastructure.

So it's interesting to see these smaller hosting firms who have traditionally leased dedicated servers starting to embrace the move to larger cloud providers and in turn creating these so called "mini clouds". The biggest players in the emerging "mini cloud" hosting space include and Rackspaces "slicehost" both traditionally described themselves as VPS hosts and have recently moved into cloud focused offerings.

It's too soon to tell if this is just a short term trend or an indication of a larger move toward cloud computing by the smaller hosting firms. One thing is for certain, companies such as Parallels who focus this market are going to have to start moving quickly because companies like Enomaly are going to start eating there lunch.

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