The Steps to a Private Cloud Implementation

[pullquote author=”Tom Bittman – VP, Gartner”]In a poll of IT managers, 75% said they would be pursuing a private cloud strategy by 2012.[/pullquote]

The majority of individuals are familiar with cloud services and what it entails. But what many people are unfamiliar with is the different types of clouds that are available. What is the difference between a Public Cloud and a Private Cloud?

The traditional cloud that most people associate virtual services with is the public cloud. It is a standardized IT service/software/infrastructure that enables the delivery of data via the internet in a pay-per-use, self service way and stored with a third party. A private cloud on the other hand, is a type of cloud computing infrastructure created by an organization, that houses a set of personal devices and federated online services that is configured and controlled by that individual company and sits behind their firewall, rather than using someone elseís infrastructure. It is essentially a means of centralizing datacenter resources. There are a few things that private clouds do; they organize and preserve personal or work information, documents, media, and communications, they deliver that information to any device or service and they orchestrate integration of personal information across digital devices and online services. So organizations that choose private are utilizing the cloud and the benefits to being virtual but also have the comfort and security of storing and handling their own data.

What really sets the private cloud apart from the public cloud?

There are two things that set a private cloud apart from the commercially used public cloud; where the hardware is kept and how it is maintained. In a public cloud your data is stored with a third party, in their data center with other organizationís data as well.

The ultimate objective of the private cloud is to allow a company to manage their own technology infrastructure.

The benefits of a private cloud are undeniable; you have direct control over all aspects of the cloudís implementation including the hardware, the networking, the operating system, the way security is implemented and even the APIs used. The cost, ease of operation and management automation, and easy scalability are all considered advantages to private cloud as well. Locality and security also set private clouds apart from the traditional public cloud. You are hosting your own cloud infrastructure on a private LAN with no connections externally, so other people cannot access your data. You still physically have possession over your own data which is comforting to a lot of organizations with highly sensitive information.

What are the steps to implementing a private cloud?

There are many steps to implementing an effective private cloud. Below is a short list of 11 key steps to deployment.

Step 1: Begin by assessing the existing infrastructure and current requirements

The key to a successful private cloud implementation is to utilize as much of the existing infrastructure as possible. If the existing internet connections, datacenters, firewalls etc can be utilized then the project costs and lead times can be significantly reduced.

Step 2: Find the best IT partner for you

In order to be successful, practice some due diligence and find an IT partner with the expertise to design and implement a private cloud. That includes the infrastructure and IT management software for shared infrastructure, shared platforms and shared software.

Step 3: Test different virtual platforms

Once you have selected your IT partner the next stage is to test the platform that best fits your business requirements and budget. For example many larger organizations choose VMWare for its scalability and resilience, whilst smaller businesses choose HyperV due to its lesser cost and ease of use.

Step 4: Choose a hardware platform

A key element, and there are many variables, Nas or SAN, Fibre Channel, SAS or SATA drives, again each one has its own strengths and weaknesses in different environments.

Step 5: Standardized and documented procedures

It is important to have standardized and documented procedures clearly outlined for operating, deploying and maintaining the cloud. Everyone will need to follow the same guidelines to ensure proper execution and smooth operation.

Step 6: Determine scale

Take note of all the systems you plan on moving over to your private cloud. You do not want to overestimate and pay for something that will go unused or underestimate and not have enough room in your datacenter for all your data.

Step 7: Plan the project and migration

Agree on timeframes, procedures and contingency. Check with existing software vendors that their applications are compatible with your chosen virtual platform.

Step 8: Supportability and compatibility check

Verify every operating system and application that your organization will be running in the cloud is supported by the environment. This means doing a system compatibility check. You want to ensure that the systems you currently use will work in the cloud environment. It is important that you verify all of your systems are compatible, not only on paper and theoretically, but also on a Proof of Concept (POC) system and a lab. This way you are able to identify any problems and find the solutions to those problems.

Step 9: Run in parallel

A great advantage of moving to a private cloud is that you can run in parallel during the migration and after the migration. If an issue is experienced you can instantly access the old physical environment.

Step 10: Ensure that your platform is resilient

There are many advantages to a centralized private cloud however as all of your eggs are in one basket it is even more important to make sure that you have hardware and software resilience in place and that you have a solid backup and recovery strategy in place.

Step 11: Update your Disaster Recovery plan

To reflect that change in your environment it is essential to update your disaster recovery plan and perform a disaster recovery test to ensure that your Recovery Time Objectives and Recovery Point Objectives are met.

What is one piece of advice for those considering moving to a private cloud?

For anyone who is concerned about the security of the cloud a Private Cloud is the answer. The key thing to understand is that a Private Cloud is not a new thing, it is utilizing existing technology that has been around for many years and is utilized by hundreds of thousands of organizations worldwide.

One thought on “The Steps to a Private Cloud Implementation”

  1. Good post, Ritchie.

    One thing I’d like to add is that public/private is rarely an either/or choice. The economic and business benefits of consuming services from third parties will continue to be present whether or not you implement a private cloud and over time it seems inevitable that enterprises will consume more and more of their services from the ‘public’ cloud. This means that a hybrid approach will likely be the norm and enterpises will consume services from their own cloud, from partners, and from third party providers i.e. from a Federated Cloud.

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