This syndicated post originally appeared at Network World Zeus Kerravala.

ZeroStack’s Z-Block Cloud appliance makes deploying an
OpenStack-based private cloud as easy as plug and play

Credit: Thinkstock

If you’re in my age bracket, you might remember this clip of Yosemite Sam yelling at his camel to slow down. He kept yelling, “Whoa, Camel,” but the headstrong camel wouldn’t stop until Yosemite Sam jumped off and hit him on the head. (For you millennials, it used to be OK for kids to watch this stuff.)

A similar trend is happening in IT today. The cloud, specifically public cloud has become all the rage. We’re moving everything to the cloud—storage, apps, compute cycles, communications tools. You name it, there’s a cloud service for it. But are we moving too fast? Should CIOs be yelling, “Whoa cloud, whoa!” And then hitting their IT architects in the head with something?

Some CIOs I’ve talked to think so for a number of reasons. One reason is obvious: It’s much easier to secure data when it’s on the company data center than flying all over the internet. Also, there’s a certain level of control and quality of performance that can be maintained in a private data center compared to the unpredictability of using internet connections to connect developers and users to the cloud services.

Now, I’m not saying businesses don’t want a cloud-like experience. They do, which is why private clouds have increased in popularity. But building a private cloud can be a long, daunting and expensive process. Building a private cloud requires cobbling together network switches and servers, orchestration tools, storage and a number of other components. If you’re Facebook or Google, have at it; you’ve likely got the engineering talent to do this. But if you’re the average run-of-the mill data center manager looking to keep your head above water, building a private cloud can be as tough as stopping a run-away camel without Yosemite’s rifle.

Private cloud simplified

A relatively new startup, ZeroStack, is taking a shot at making the deployment of an OpenStack-based private cloud as easy as plug and play. I see Nutanix and other more mature companies moving in this direction and promising one-touch cloud soon. ZeroStack, however, seems to have that today with a secure, turnkey cloud appliance that can be deployed in a private data center or in a colocation facility. Companies can use this to move away from legacy virtualization platforms to a more modern dynamic cloud-like environment without having to hire a whole army of OpenStack experts or a bunch of consultants.

The Z-Block Cloud appliance is literally a “cloud in a box” and includes compute, storage, networking, management software and hypervisors. The 2 RU device includes four server nodes, 64 CPU cores, 512 GB of RAM and 22.4 TB of storage (6.4 SSD / 15 HDD). The product has been validated and tested, so it can be dropped into a data center and be ready to be use in a self-service mode through a web interface—similar to the public cloud experience but without the security risks and control challenges.

Part of ZeroStack’s story is built on their software technology, which runs as a service, delivering a self-healing architecture and integrated public-cloud-like control mechanisms to manage the cloud for you. That means they can help customers predictively plan capacity, find faults and self-heal when processes fail. This idea of using analytics as part of the cloud platform helps deliver the transparency needed to optimize workloads and application performance.

Point-and-click application development

ZeroStack also launched its zApp Store, which will be a repository for downloadable applications that can be installed via point and click. At launch, there will be a handful of apps available, including Jenkins, Cassandra, Hadoop, WordPress and Spark. ZeroStack said it is committed to adding more applications to the zApp Store.

The ZeroStack appliance makes shifting to a private cloud simple, but the zApp Store adds multiplicative value by introducing the concept of point-and-click application deployment. For businesses that want a cloud experience but would prefer to bring the experience in house, ZeroStack offers a solid, turnkey way to do so.

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Zeus Kerravala

Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. Kerravala provides a mix of tactical advice to help his clients in the current business climate and long term strategic advice.
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