IBM has put their WebSphere CloudBurst Appliance to use internally to build private clouds used to setup test environments. I recently caught up with Robbie Minshall, IBM WebSphere Test Architect to discuss how his team went down the path of setting up a test cloud with WebSphere CloudBurst. You can read the full text of the interview here. Robbie leads a team of testers that harness a lab with thousands of physical machines to perform some constant and iterative testing of the WebSphere Application Server. According to Robbie, managing such an environment was quite complicated, and they began looking to WebSphere CloudBurst to improve efficiency: "Basically we felt that WebSphere CloudBurst would improve the availability of application environments, enhance automation, and improve hardware utilization all with very low physical and administrative costs." Robbie and team began the journey of setting up an internal cloud of WebSphere Application Server environments, but encountered a problem familiar to many in today's economic climate: "One of our challenges seems like it would be common to many scenarios, especially in today's world. Our budget for new hardware to build out our cloud infrastructure was initially very limited. Most cloud infrastructure designs depict very ideal hardware scenarios including SANs, large multicore machines, and private and public networks within a dedicated lab. Quite frankly we did not have the budget to create this from scratch." However, after implementing WebSphere CloudBurst and measuring value, they proved their cloud warranted more financial investment: "The performance of application environments dispensed by WebSphere CloudBurst on many small existing boxes in comparison to large multicore machines with a SAN was very comparable. This allows us to leverage existing hardware, with minimal investment all the while demonstrating the value and efficiencies of cloud computing. That data in turn has allowed us to obtain new dedicated hardware to iteratively build up a larger lab specifically for use with WebSphere CloudBurst." Like any organization working to implement a private cloud, Robbie and team encountered challenges and have hints and tips to offer for those choosing WebSphere CloudBurst as a private cloud solution. He also gives a look at what his team is looking at next for their private test cloud. You can read the full text of the interview here. WebSphere CloudBurst is an appliance offering from IBM that allows users to create, deploy, and manage virtualized WebSphere Application Server environments in a private cloud. To learn more about the offering you can visit the home page or read this introductory article.