Summary:

OpSource stepped up its enterprise cloud push again today, bundling advanced networking and security capabilities into its public cloud offering free of charge. Giving away what once commanded a relatively high fee seems like a bold move, but it has everything to do with staying competitive.

Clouds-A3

Cloud provider OpSource stepped up its enterprise cloud computing push yet again today, bundling advanced networking and security capabilities into its public cloud offering free of charge. OpSource’s cloud is built on Cisco gear that enables dedicated VLANs, firewalls and load balancing, and OpSource is passing those capabilities on to its cloud customers for free. A VLAN in the OpSource Cloud used to cost 20 cents per hour (additional ones beyond the initial free one still do), which, as CMO Keao Caindec explained to me, would nearly triple the monthly bill for a base OpSource Cloud package. Giving away what once commanded a relatively high fee seems like a bold move, but it likely has everything to do with just staying competitive with the cloud computing leaders.

After all, as Caindec also noted, OpSource’s new pricing scheme puts it squarely between Amazon Web Services and Rackspace on the cloud pricing front, although neither brings with it the business-friendly features that OpSource touts. Aside from the customizable firewalls and, now free, VLAN, OpSource also provides, among other things, an SSL-encrypted VPN, a 100 percent SLA, free 24-7 phone support and the largest cloud instances this side of Amazon. Giving away so much and building a platform atop proprietary Cisco gear and VMware virtualization might not maximize profits off the bat, but if OpSource wants to be a “credit card” cloud, it can’t just mirror what AWS does and expect to win customers.  Already, Kaindec said, OpSource customers typically run production applications across eight or more servers, and the company expects those customers to grow along with OpSource by moving even more applications to its cloud.

OpSource also is working to distinguish itself from its cloud peers via a strong channel program that includes leading telcos, IT vendors and VARs, and which Caindec said is driving about 30 percent of OpSource’s cloud revenue. Again, it can’t necessarily expect lure the customers and applications it wants by relying on developers just tinkering around with its platform. No doubt there is room for multiple different types cloud offerings, but OpSource is toeing an interesting line between “commodity” clouds like AWS and Rackspace Cloud (not Rackspace managed hosting), and more enterprise-focused clouds such as GoGrid, and even Terremark. The best-of-both-worlds approach appears to be paying off for now — last week, OpSource announced fiscal year 2010 profitability and 100 percent uptime for its cloud platform during the year — but as long these distinctions exist, OpSource needs to be careful to avoid becoming too much for everyday cloud developers and too little for enterprise users.

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