The private cloud is emerging as an attractive alternative to the public cloud for many IT organizations. Although the public cloud puts the control and cost in the hands of the cloud hosting provider, that’s not the case with the private cloud. The private cloud puts the control and costs of the infrastructure into the hands of your organization. All the concerns about infrastructure availability and data security are up to your organization—exactly as they are with a traditional on-premise IT infrastructure. Many organizations feel much more comfortable with this level of control.
So what’s driving the move toward the private cloud? The private cloud offers several benefits over the traditional compute-network-storage model. The private cloud helps make IT operations more efficient by moving management up from the virtual machine (VM) level to the services level. Instead of deploying and managing VMs one at a time, the private cloud allows you to deploy and manage services that consist of multiple VMs. It also helps to reduce the workload on IT by enabling end-user computing. End users can deploy and allocate the VMs and services for which they are authorized, without requiring the involvement of IT. In addition, the private cloud (like the public cloud) enables chargebacks through usage metering of compute resources.
Many companies are just now looking into how they might make the move from a traditional on-premise IT infrastructure to a private cloud infrastructure. You have four basic choices when building your private cloud. If you’re building a private cloud on-premise, you can choose the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) method, follow a reference architecture (RA), or buy a prebuilt appliance. You can also build a private cloud by using dedicated resources from a cloud hosting provider. Let’s have a quick rundown of the primary characteristic of each path to the private cloud:
- DIY: In this scenario, you can built the private cloud out of the computing resources you already have. Or you might choose to purchase new resources to build your private cloud. The advantage of this approach is that it leverages your own IT resources. The disadvantage is that most organizations don’t have a lot of experience in running private clouds. And it’s possible that you might build a solution that is inadequate for your needs. Or you might risk buying a more expensive solution than you need and still not have it meet your requirements.
- RAs: RAs are essentially recommended hardware and software configurations that are co-designed by Microsoft and its OEM partners. These configurations include specific compute, networking, storage, and software recommendations. RAs help take the risk out of building a private cloud by leveraging the expertise of Microsoft and the OEM partner. Tier-one vendors such as HP, DELL, and IBM all offer a variety of private cloud RAs that are designed to address the needs of different sized businesses. For more information, check out Microsoft’s Private Cloud Fast Track Reference Architecture Guide.
- Prebuilt appliances: Investing in a prebuilt private cloud appliance is an even faster way to get to the private cloud. Appliances are delivered as pre-configured hardware and software packages that include racks, servers, storage, and networking equipment. For Microsoft private cloud environments, these systems typically include Windows Server, Hyper-V for virtualization, and System Center for management. Everything is preconfigured, and the OEM’s support services organization typically performs the initial on-site setup. Appliances offer rapid deployment and optimum performance but typically cost more than RAs. Appliances are also typically limited in the types of customization the vendor offers. To see some examples of private cloud appliances, you can look into HP VirtualSystem for Microsoft.
- Private cloud hosting: Remember that a private cloud is a cloud dedicated to your organization. That doesn’t mean that it necessarily needs to reside on-premise. You can also lease dedicated resources from many cloud providers. The advantage of this approach is that you can deploy solutions quickly and without the cost of a DIY solution. However, a good portion of the management and control of the servers is out of your control. All the management must be done remotely.
Moving toward the private cloud takes some planning. You need to know the types of services that you want to run in the cloud, and you need to plan how to move from your current infrastructure to the private cloud infrastructure. Hopefully this article gives you an idea of the pros and cons of the different paths to the private cloud.