How to Sculpt a Private Cloud

[Editor’s Note: This is the second article in a six-part series that looks at the primary considerations as well as the process of self-discovery that is required in the definition, development and implementation of private cloud computing. The articles were prepared by cloud experts at Logicalis, an international provider of integrated information and communications technology solutions and services.]

by Mike Martin, vice president, Cloud Solutions Group, Logicalis

Transitioning your IT infrastructure to take advantage of cloud computing is a long journey that passes through a lot of uncharted territory. IT pros are right to be skeptical and a little anxious.

Sitting this one out is not an option, however. CEOs and CFOs want the efficiency, business agility and pay-as-you-go affordability that their trade magazines are telling them is possible with cloud technology. Their mandate to do more with less is being revised so IT can do still more with even less.

The good news is that it is possible to start the long march to cloud one step at a time from wherever you are and even realize some efficiencies and performance rewards in the early stages. No leap of faith required. If anything, implementing cloud computing is a pragmatic decision that needs to be executed with a painstaking attention to detail and a deep understanding of the interdependencies within your IT environment.

The key to a successful journey into cloud computing is developing a strategy that aligns short-term needs with long-term goals. The challenge is upgrading, revising, and in some cases creating the variety of systems that need to work together to realize your cloud ambitions. Setting them all in motion in the same direction can be a little like herding cats. That’s why you need a well-defined strategy that everyone involved can follow.

ITIL and IT service management

Building an IT service management (ITSM) foundation for your private cloud is essential to ensuring it meets the needs of your users. The Information Technology Information Library (ITIL) provides guidelines and best practices you can use as guides for effective ITSM, but you have to figure out how to apply them to your own unique situation.

The following list identifies the systems you will need to address in your private cloud strategy:

Server hardware – Certain types of server platforms contribute to the dynamic provisioning capabilities required to implement cloud services in an IT environment. Blade-based servers and scalable servers that lend themselves to large virtualized workloads are ideal for cloud based environments.

Storage SAN based storage that provides the ability to implement advanced features such as remote copy services, snapshots, and cloning are ideal for cloud based infrastructures. Appropriate connectivity methods for the size and scope of the workloads — such as Fibre Channel or FCoE – are also critical.

Networking The dynamic and highly mobile nature of workloads in clouds makes networking particularly challenging in cloud-based architectures. A flexible structured network environment that supports converged networking, 10 gigabyte Ethernet (GbE), flexible security, and load balancing functionality is important for cloud-based architectures.

Data backup systems – A dynamic cloud environment can place additional requirements on enterprise backup solutions. Integration with virtualization platforms and advanced scheduling capabilities are highly desirable to prevent performance and scaling issues.

Virtualization – Virtualization is not a requirement for cloud-based environments, but mature virtualized infrastructure can significantly reduce the time to implement cloud functionality as well as reduce the hesitancy of the end-user population when moving to a more cloud-based model.