Unisys offers 'hosted private cloud'

The new offering lets users add capacity for short-term use

Unisys on Tuesday introduced a dedicated, hosted computing service that lets customers quickly add extra capacity for short-term use, a feature Unisys says is unique among what it calls "hosted private clouds."

Customers will sign up for the service by first establishing a minimum amount of capacity, for which they pay a set monthly fee. If they require more capacity, due to a spike in traffic for instance, they fill out an online request for additional resources. Unisys charges for the additional capacity on a pay-as-you-go basis.

The offering is a hosted computing service that aims to combine the benefits of the cloud, including virtualization, automation and self-provisioning, and the added ability to quickly add capacity.

The time it takes to add and provision servers varies but will typically be less than two hours, said Sam Gross, vice president of global IT outsourcing solutions for Unisys.

"This is far more efficient than any other private clouds in the industry because we're not requiring you to make this long-term high watermark assessment about the resources you'll need," Gross said.

Often, users of hosted compute offerings will ask for the maximum amount of capacity they think they'll require in order to ensure access. But that could mean they are paying for capacity that is not being used much of the time.

Because Unisys' service is a private cloud offering, meaning the hardware is dedicated to individual customers rather than shared, the system is less efficient than a public cloud.

When a customer needs more capacity, it must add an entire blade or server, which could be more than it needs. "You do lose efficiencies, but that efficiency is already lost when the core decision is made to move from the public to a private cloud," Gross said. Public clouds are inherently more efficient because multiple customers may share compute power hosted by a single server.

On the back end, Unisys is using its uAdapt software, which is designed to allow data center managers to quickly repurpose servers.

Unisys has "automated that process of racking and stacking and cabling those servers that allows us to create a fairly real-time mechanism to increase and decrease capacity," Gross said.

In addition to the hosted private cloud offering, Unisys already has a public cloud and an internal private cloud offering. Each aims to address different needs. "What we've learned is that 'cloud' is not a big bang for our customers. It's a journey and evolution," Gross said. "That particular journey is different for each of our clients."

Nancy Gohring covers mobile phones and cloud computing for The IDG News Service. Follow Nancy on Twitter at @idgnancy. Nancy's e-mail address is Nancy_Gohring@idg.com

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