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Is IBM Blue Box 'private cloud as a service' really private?

Is the "private cloud as a service" from IBM Blue Box actually a private cloud, or just marketing hype? Expert Dan Sullivan explores.

IBM recently unveiled a new Blue Box service it calls "private cloud as a service." How does IBM Blue Box work?...

Does a private cloud as a service like this offer enterprises a more secure environment, or is this just another public cloud service with a new label?           

The IBM Blue Box Cloud offering is not a misnamed public cloud service. This new product combines IBM’s hardware and data center infrastructure with an OpenStack cloud management platform developed by Blue Box (acquired by IBM in June 2015).

With the IBM Blue Box Cloud service, customers create and manage private OpenStack clouds that run on IBM physical infrastructure, hence the private cloud as a service term.  The hardware is dedicated to a single customer, so it offers the benefits of virtualization while ensuring guest operating systems on a single server are all dedicated to a single customer.

IBM Blue Box customers can start with a base cloud configuration and add on from there. The base Blue Box Cloud configuration includes 92 compute cores, 378 GB of memory, 3.5 TB of storage and 24/7 support services.  The base package is available for $7,100 per month on a month-to-month basis or for $6,000 per month under contract. Additional nodes with 32 compute cores, 126 GB of RAM, and 1.2 TB of storage are available for $2,700 for month-to-month customers and $2,000 for customers under contract.

It is worth repeating that IBM Blue Box Cloud is not a public cloud service. Customers are able to run their own OpenStack cloud using the Blue Box console to administer and manage that cloud.  With IBM Blue Box Cloud, not only do customers have to manage users, privileges and applications like their public cloud counterparts, they also have to manage the cloud platform.  In practical terms, this means customers are monitoring and managing the compute, storage, networking and security aspects of OpenStack.

Enterprises that are not satisfied with the level of control they maintain in public clouds or that cannot achieve the types of security controls they need from public IaaS providers, may turn to private clouds only to be hampered by the demands of OpenStack administration. IBM's Blue Box Cloud offering is designed to give customers the benefits of a provider that can manage physical infrastructure while offering tools to manage OpenStack and relieve some of the cloud platform administration burden.

Next Steps

Learn how to use OpenStack to build a private cloud.

Find out the differences between OpenStack block storage and traditional block storage.

Dig deeply into how cloud providers can use OpenStack to build their own cloud platforms.

This was last published in December 2015

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How do you think private cloud as a service would benefit your enterprise?
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What Bluebox (now IBM) offers is part of a shifting trend where private is delivered as a service, either via the cloud or on-premises. Companies like IBM Bluebox, Platform9 and Cisco MetaCloud are beginning to bring innovative new offerings to market. 
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