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“Not every startup can afford to buy redundant vBlocks”

This past weekend, the social media channels were ablaze with discussions about the Cloud Computing events of last week. Many of the discussions centered around the idea that customers of public cloud services had over-estimated what would actually be delivered, especially in the areas of High Availability and Disaster Recovery. Some people argued that it was the providers fault, while others argued that the customers should have known better and designed their applications accordingly.

Initial deployment costs often came up during discussions, especially as it related to start-ups and growing businesses that required (or preferred) the pay-as-you-go consumption model to one that was more CapEx focused. Sometime during the discussion, I received a tweet that said “Not every startup can afford to buy redundant vBlocks”.

I’m not sure if this was directed at me, Cisco or VCE. Either way, it was probably directed at the most visible integrated offering from technology companies that have chosen to supply best-of-breed infrastructure for public (and private) cloud builders, not “be the cloud” for companies.

My initial reaction was, “huh, when did the discussion move back to small companies buying their own infrastructure?”. This isn’t the late 1990s, where every start-up in Silicon Valley bought huge quantities of servers, storage and networks, which required them to raise large amounts of capital to fund the infrastructure before they could even begin growing their business. We understand that VCs give start-ups less these days because they don’t want to pay for the business risk + infrastructure assets. Too many start-ups fail or don’t have a viable business model, so move the infrastructure costs to the commodity public clouds.

Then another tweet came in talking about how these early adopters of public cloud, who chose the “lowest cost available” option, would eventually need to consider moving to something more robust as their business grew and they needed to reevaluate the risk and costs of business continuity. Another change event for the growing business, potentially requiring changes to their online technology or the operational model.

After some more thinking, I chalked it up to a lack of awareness that many major Service Providers and Systems Integrators have been choosing Vblock as their platform of choice to deliver public cloud services. Here’s a quick look at some of the publicly announced Vblock-powered services available on a global basis, targeting many verticals:

In all fairness, many of these “Cloud Service Providers” have been targeting more robust applications and complete solutions (including HA and BC/DR). The infrastructure-architecture of their platforms are well-defined.

  • Could they offer ultra low-cost VMs to compete with commodity public clouds? Yes.
  • Do most of them choose this business model? No.

But when people are starting to think about contingency plans around their usage of public cloud services and have concerns about moving forward, maybe this is a new opportunity to attract those start-ups to leverage Vblock platforms. There are start-up costs, but there are also expansion and transition costs to consider longer-term. It’s not as if they won’t be able to run frameworks like Cloud Foundry in the near future.

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