Mixed Emotions: A Private Cloud of Your Own

[Editor’s Note: This is the first 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 (ICT) solutions and services.]

by Kevin Gruneisen vice president of Data Center Solutions at Logicalis

Even among IT directors who are sold on the merits of cloud computing, many still want to have the cloud running in their own data center where they can keep an eye on it. They may have strict policies or compliance requirements for data isolation, security, or privacy or they may just be uncomfortable letting their data leave their sight.

Private clouds, benefits and change

In fact, private clouds give you most of the benefits of cloud computing without leaving the security of your data center. You have to lay out the capital for the required infrastructure, but you do get all the other benefits of cloud computing, including:

  • Self-service provisioning;
  • Scalability;
  • Elasticity to respond to changing business needs; and
  • And you spread the fixed-costs for technology you already own over a longer term.

Private clouds have the extra benefit of allowing you to provide additional levels of security, control and customization capabilities. The combination of private cloud benefits combined with the comfort level that comes with keeping your data at home explains why a recent survey of Gartner clients found that 75 percent of companies expect to build private clouds this year.

But, if you think you can have a private cloud and not rock your IT boat, you are choosing private cloud for the wrong reasons. By now, virtualization has already abstracted not only your data from your physical servers but also your whole approach to managing IT. Cloud computing — even with a private cloud environment — accelerates the changes you’ve been going through to a whole new level.

For one thing, private cloud computing requires the ability to share resources between business units, divisions and other groups that may not share resources today. Building a private cloud, as a result, means changes to existing corporate culture, politics, processes and even business relationships.

What is both so disruptive and so exciting about cloud computing, in fact, is that it offers an insight into the nature of change itself and makes it possible for IT to take another full step closer to the ultimate goal of providing IT as a service (ITaaS) and being able to respond dynamically and automatically to changing business requirements.

Beyond virtualization

Implementing a private cloud strategy is not something that you can just buy. It’s a process that you develop, and it is unique to every organization. Key cloud considerations, for example, should include:

    • Defining the service catalog for end users that meets all corporate guidelines;
    • Developing a delivery model of scalable resources;
    • Abstraction of infrastructure components;
    • Configuring auto-provisioning and self-service;
    • Implementing monitoring and capacity management;
    • Calibrating chargeback/showback for IT services;
    • Ensuring security and compliance;
    • Enhancing business continuity; and
    • Hybrid cloud integration.

You’ll notice that the above list of considerations cuts across the silos that exist in conventional IT departments dividing servers, storage, networks and management into often jealously guarded fiefdoms. Perhaps the most disruptive aspect of cloud computing is that it tears down the walls between server, storage, network, management and application experts and requires them to play well together.