A Practical Perspective on Private Cloud
6/7/2012 9:25 AM
Short form: Private Cloud is the best practices from Public Cloud, including policy, software and optionally hardware, repurposed to enable your IT department to do more with less, reducing costs while increasing agility!
The term "Cloud" is currently an industry buzzword, which is to say that it has almost no meaning at all, until you qualify it, since everyone claims that what they have is "Cloud". Lately the terms "Private Cloud" and "Hybrid Cloud" have become highly competitive spaces in which big vendors seek to gain marketshare and outdo each other. In this post I cut through all this and try to focus on the real reason why this is so important to them, and possibly to you!
What is Cloud Computing?
With the explosion of the World Wide Web, and the proliferation of consumer-facing commercial web sites, a number of very large companies found themselves having to expose their web sites to unprecedented "success". What this typically meant was that your data center would go from where a dozen servers were happily handling the load to where, sometimes within minutes, you needed literally hundreds of servers to handle the load. In the early days, this just didn't happen, and events that caught the attention of the entire world (or large populations) would actually crash web sites. This meant a lot of lost opportunity. It also meant that a successful consumer facing web site would be adding new applications at a rate that required increased infrastructure, but also, to avoid things getting out of control, a whole new approach to management and deployment.
Over time, these vendors figured out how to deal with these issues. In short, traditional IT practices ran into a wall very quickly. They simply did not scale to these circumstances, so whole new approaches were developed. The vendors figured out that they gained huge benefits from standardization, and re-engineering applications to separate compute, storage and other infrastructure needs so that they were more flexible.
You might have servers enough to handle peak load, but to save power requirements, you would have these turned off, but in a state where they could be remotely started on demand, if needed. Virtualization allowed to you use compute and storage more efficiently, and management and provisioning request consoles allowed you to automate and manage the whole environment efficiently.
Pretty soon, these vendors also figured out that they had excess computing power, and started to look for ways to capitalize that. The result, Public Cloud computing!
Next Stop, Efficiency in Your IT Department
These same vendors soon realized that the same efficiency that they had gained in their data centers would also benefit their users, so they set out to take the same processes, software and components that enabled them to offer competitively priced, highly scalable and affordable Public Cloud services, and make this available to their customers so that they too could realize these benefits, without having to deal with the potential security, privacy and compliance risks inherent in the Public Cloud.
This is known as Private Cloud. For those customers who use both Public Cloud services and Private Cloud technology, this is referred to as a Hybrid Cloud.
Private Cloud: A More Efficient IT Environment
Really, what Private Cloud is, is a more efficient approach to managing your IT needs. Some C level executives are wary of the term Cloud, and may have compliance reasons why they can't consider a Public Cloud at this time, so using the term "Private Cloud" actually does a disservice, in my opinion, to the technology involved. It's really a new, more efficient way to accomplish more with less. To save money while increasing agility and time-to-market.
You save money by making better use of your existing IT infrastructure and administrative staff.
Private Cloud Offerings:
At the onset, I'm going to admit that my list is probably incomplete, and will be out of date in short order. I'm not going to try to address pros/cons since many of these offerings are very new, and constantly changing. You get to do your own research. From what I can see, some of these offerings play better or worse at working with different "levels" of cloud (IaaS
) or with different O/S options. You get to do some of this research too, for now.
I'll end this post with my current list of the following companies that have offerings that meet the above definition of Private Cloud:
IBM has been doing cloud computing the longest, and has the richest management stack, as well as the largest and most diverse set of offerings. They provide Development and Test "Cloud in a box" solutions as well as solutions that let you use existing systems and infrastructure. They provide both IaaS and PaaS (based on J2EE).
Microsoft has just announced the release of System Center 2012, which is their Private Cloud offering. Surprisingly, they support PowerVM and VMWare Linux platforms in addition to Windows systems. Microsoft provides both IaaS and PaaS (based on .NET).
Oracle has an interesting offering based on Solaris, which they acquired when they bought Sun Microsystems. They rely on third party components including, optionally IBM's Tivoli product suite to provide a complete management stack, but they bring some very interesting options into play. Solaris has always had the boutique *nix systems, and there are some very innovative options built into their stack. This appears to be IaaS only, as near as I can see.
HP has a number of offerings under the name HP CloudSystem. IaaS only, I believe.
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