Private Cloud – Getting Started Guide for the CIO

This is a re-post of my article, originally published on The Ravello Blog.

Private cloud - getting started guideCloud adoption is on the fast track, companies of all size are seeking ways to adopt cloud while eliminating the traditional IT project risks. The largest enterprises in the world view the private cloud as one of the most appealing ways to start, while utilizing the already made investment of their on-premises resources. CIOs and IT leaders that are thinking about creating their own cloud need to make sure to consider the current viable options and prepare a plan for the future that will suit their specific enterprise grade IT requirements. It is definitely not a decision to be taken lightly. In this post I will provide you with some guidelines and tools to help support you on your new journey.

What is a private cloud and why would you want one?

In my humble opinion, a private cloud is a way to facilitate IT resources provisioning, regardless of the infrastructure, to empower the organization’s internal users. It removes the traditional IT hassles while maintaining the business’ policy yet providing the end developer or business user great agility. Moreover, the private cloud creates better control of your resources. For example, it adds values in terms of the cost analysis, driving better efficiency hence enhancing IT management. A significant advantage of the private cloud over the public cloud, lies in its ability to enforce corporate security policies and meet traditional compliance and regulation rules.

Cloud Adoption is a Strategic Move

Before you go any further, you need determine whether or not your enterprise high level management is committed to making the move to the cloud, and whether or not the necessary resources will be made available. This will be a key element in the success of your project. It is important that you reach out to the invested parties in the company, not just the folks in IT. Try and identify the pain points and strategies for remedying them. Bottom up adoption of cloud is only natural, and if you look around carefully, don’t be surprised to find that your organization developers and testers are already using platforms such as AWS cloud. While they may benefit from agility, they might also challenge your organization’s compliance policies. Today, it is not unusual to find business units within the organization that already have a cloud-based “rogue” IT infrastructure in place.

Knowledge Acquisition and Time to Market

Do your internal teams have the necessary knowledge? Probably not. Do they have the skills to quickly learn and start to deploy? If not, do you want to hire the necessary resources or would it be best to use an integrator? These questions are crucial when an organization wants to adopt any new technology or knowledge. Here time to market is of an essence.

The process of migrating in-house legacy applications to the cloud can be very challenging, and you should expect that some things just won’t work. For example, it is a known fact that Oracle and MSSQL databases were built to rely on specific infrastructure  configurations, and due to compatibility issues, moving these databases to the cloud is not that straight forward.

What’s the best solution for your Private Cloud?

If you decide to go deploy a private cloud, you should carefully research the available options. Check out what I see as the three most critical factors: cost, support, and resource reusability.

There are two main approaches to creating a private cloud, each type of platform with its own advantages and disadvantages:

  • Open source platforms, such as Openstack or CloudStack, let you build your own cloud using your choice of hypervisors. These solutions are free, but they are complex to deploy and maintain. They also do not provide support services per se. You can go the self-support route or you can buy support from a third party. Either way, support is bound to cost you something down the road.
  • Hosted cloud platforms, such as Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform, make it easy for you to build, deploy and manage applications on your own cloud, which is hosted by them.  These platforms are not free, but ongoing support services are typically included.

If you are reselling to external customers, the ability to receive and provide ongoing support from an established vendor can be a very important consideration.

You also want to find out whether or not each potential solution will require you to deploy everything from scratch or whether you might be able to continue to utilize some of the resources already in place. What, if any, new equipment is needed, and what are the requirements and costs of that equipment?

Final Words

In the future, we are likely to see a trend where companies have more than a single cloud even if it’s a private one. The multi-cloud deployment not only enables them to compartmentalize data, but also enables them to deploy the same applications to different clouds with different providers and technologies, improving availability and achieving true cloud redundancy.

The use of the cloud will continue to expand in years to come and there will always be resources that the company wants to control for whatever the reason may be. The private cloud is a viable option to enjoy the cloud features such as cost efficiency, agility and optimal resources utilization … all within your own data center.