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How to build a private cloud

Christine Burns | June 4, 2013
Four must-have features of a successful private cloud.

Josh McKenty, CTO and founder of OpenStack-based private cloud provider Piston Cloud Computing, echoed Hillier's requirement of a fully converged infrastructure.  But McKenty, who has been working on private cloud networking issues since 2008 when he was working at NASA and served as a technical lead on the project that evolved into OpenStack, says corporate IT must also factor in disaster recovery, replication and placement logic for their private clouds. Also, private clouds are likely to exist across multiple data centers so as to support another tenet of cloud computing, removing any single point of failure in the service.

"This is not something that is done very well in the public cloud space now and it's an opportunity for corporate IT operations that haven't had sophisticated systems in place to do these things, to leapfrog themselves in that regard in the new era of private cloud,"  McKenty says.

2. There has to be fully automated orchestration of both system management and software distribution across the converged infrastructure.

"That is where the cost savings is. Automating deployment and streamlining the human activity previously required to do daily tasks. That is what will eventually drive private cloud sales," says Robert Miggins, senior vice president of business development of Peer 1 Hosting, which has a private cloud offering based on VMware.

You have to improve the provisioning process significantly to legitimately call it private cloud, argues Forrester's Nelson. "If it takes you two weeks to provision resources now, getting that down to two days is not going to cut it. You've got to get it to 15 minutes. You can't be sitting around waiting for various levels of approval to happen because you lose the agility and speed. It's the difference between virtualization and cloud," Nelson says.

CiRBA's Hillier agrees that automation is crucial but advises potential customers not to fixate on being able to roll up instantaneous instances. "Going from weeks to deployment to mere hours might just be good enough for your environment," says Hillier, adding that sometimes just being able to reserve cycles in the private cloud days in advance might be a step in the right direction  for most companies.

3. There must be a self-service catalog of standard computing offerings available to users across the company.

"The litmus test is whether or not the dashboard is available to business users across the company and not just an interface for traditional IT staff to use to dole out IT resources. Having just the latter, means that IT just has a new toy," says Piston's McKenty.  

Bluelock CTO Pat O'Day, a provider of public and private cloud services, agrees. "True cloud means the users, and not IT, get to control the performance of their applications based on the resources they allocate to them."


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