Are you a renter or an owner? The choice is a familiar one for data center users seeking to decide whether to operate their own facility or outsource their applications. A new wrinkle in the rent vs. own equation has been introduced by 3Tera, an Aliso Viejo, Calif. software company specializing in utility computing solutions for SaaS applications. 3Tera and its hosting industry partners are actively marketing the Virtual Private Data Center (VPDC), a virtual appliance powered by 3Tera's AppLogic "grid operating system" software, which allows companies to run applications in a scalable virtualized environment.
Customers can either install the AppLogic software in their own data center or lease VPDCs running at several of 3Tera's hosting partners, which include Dallas-based providers Layered Technologies and SoftLayer. "We have a number of customers who say they want a way to get out of the data center business," said Bert Armijo, 3Tera's VP of marketing. "They're not looking to take (the software) into their own data center. They're looking for a uniform system where they can outsource it."
The technology illustrates how virtualization is evolving to create additional infrastructure options. 3Tera's AppLogic software got its first visibility in web hosting, where virtualization had primarily been used to create virtual private servers. VPSes, which segment a physical server into multiple virtual appliances, offer more security and resources than a shared hosting account at a lower price than most dedicated servers.
AppLogic's virtual private data centers run on a hardware grid assembled from commodity servers connected via Gigabit Ethernet. Last year 3Tera's partners used AppLogic to power grid hosting systems that were positioned as offering reliability and scalability advantaged over dedicated servers.
The enterprise market is the next target. Last week Layered Technologies introduced the Super Grid, a VPDC comprised of 443 CPUs, 920GB of RAM and 47 terabytes of storage using AMD processors and Applogic. The VPDC is being positioned as a cost-effect alternative for enterprises considering building out new facilities or leasing colocation space.
Layered Technologies' Super Grid is priced at $3,996 a month. 3Tera also offers VPDCs, which are hosted at SoftLayer. Armijo says the offering is competitive with Amazon's EC2 utility computing product, which he says has helped create interest in 3Tera and other utility computing platforms.
"Amazon changed the marketplace dramatically last fall," said Armijo. "There's a debate shaping up about what utility computing will become. With Amazon, what you end up having to do is build your infrastructure layer atop that virtual server. It's a model that works well if you're small."
The other utility computing model that is emerging is typified by Facebook, which has opened its application programming interfaces (APIs) to developers who can create applications and widgets for the service's millions of users.
"Everybody's talking about computing in the cloud, but what they're really talking about is computing into my cloud," said 3Tera said President and CEO Vlad Miloushev. "If a 21st-century utility computer model is going to happen and it has to look like the Web, not my web and your web, but an open environment."
Indeed, the portability of virtual appliances is one of the 3Tera's key talking points on VPDCs. "Once you put your application in a data center, it's a marriage," said Miloushev. "And you may have a messy divorce. If you can easily move your application, you can find another data center."