Moving to a private cloud: Technology choices and implementation issues

How to manage it all?

In Part 1 of this article, we defined private clouds, talked about the differences between deploying server virtualization and implementing a private cloud, described the risks associated with deploying private clouds, and listed the phases and steps involved in transitioning to a private cloud.

In this part, we delve deeper into the technology choices surrounding the virtualization, management and automation required for a private cloud. We talk to people who have made the move to a private cloud or are doing so.

Are you planning or implementing ...

A combination of public and private clouds: 17%
Private cloud only: 18%
Public cloud only: 12%
No clouds under consideration at this time: 53%

Source: Computerworld online survey; 155 respondents

In general, selecting the technologies to implement a private cloud is easier than figuring out the business rules and operational procedures you'll need. Regardless, choosing the software to virtualize your data center and then picking the automation and orchestration management tools is very important.

While some view automation and orchestration tools as "extra" cloud management tools, implementers and experts say they're just as necessary as the basic tools for managing servers and storage. Without the "extra" tools, you will not be able to reduce the administration costs in private clouds.

Getting started

How you go about building a private cloud depends on what you have to start with. The legacy of your environment may dictate what you do first. If you are starting from scratch, then you have to start by virtualizing your servers. Then you begin to virtualize your storage and your networks, and build out from there.

These steps are prerequisites if you want to fully realize the benefits of private clouds. You need to be able to provision hardware and software to customers who request it, and then deploy the hardware or services; you need a way to manage and control the environment. You also need to be able to manage the private-to-public paradigm -- that is, the ability to move workloads back and forth between private and public clouds.

So far, how private clouds are built differs from enterprise to enterprise.

When preparing for a private cloud, you have to ask and answer questions such as:

  • What is going to be running in the private cloud, and what is not?
  • What applications can I scale well to take advantage of the cloud?
  • If I have two data centers, to what extent can I migrate applications and share capacity between them? Where does cloud help? Where does it hurt?

These questions are part of an iterative process; businesses need to work their way toward mature business processes for their private clouds.

Paul Cameron, head of enterprise services at Suncorp, a major financial services provider in Brisbane, Australia, says that when his company began planning and strategizing for its private cloud, two of the first things it did was create a service-based operating model and a service catalog. The service catalog contains the list of services being automated for internal use and is available to business users via a self-service portal.

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