How to Best Control a Private Cloud Environment
January 7th, 2014 By: Bill Kleyman
Cloud computing technologies have presented an entirely new way for organizations to compute. Many are exploring with hosted or completely off-site data center solutions. Still, one of the most prevalent cloud platforms currently in the industry is the private cloud. In fact, private connectivity over the WAN and LAN were used to distribute data long before the term cloud came into use.
In deploying an enterprise cloud solution, it’s important to understand one very important fact: Cloud computing isn’t just one solution; rather, it’s a combination of technologies which all work together to deliver data and information. Because of that, there can be numerous moving parts within a cloud environment. To control the data and how it’s distributed, it’s important to understand what these moving parts are and how the help create a powerful cloud environment. Control mechanisms, for a cloud platform, should be deployed around the following technologies:
- Storage. To this day, storage is expensive. Improper storage utilization can lead to bad performance for an entire environment. Since cloud computing is heavily virtualization-based, administrators must have constant visibility into the amount of storage being used and the utilization of the storage environment, including the number of concurrent connections and dedicated IOPS for various processes. The storage piece of a cloud computing model has become even more important over the past few years. In fact, some storage solutions actually help shape cloud offerings. Disaster recovery, business continuity, and replication services all revolve around a good storage solution.
- WAN/LAN and bandwidth. Make sure to monitor your network both internally and externally. Since a private cloud is used to potentially connect user and branch offices, ensure that you have the right amount of both LAN and WAN bandwidth to handle connection needs. In some cases, administrators can deploy software-defined networks (SDN) to better control the flow of data. In the cloud world, latency can be detrimental. Another point to consider is the utilization of intelligent WAN optimization technologies. Creating logical connections between very distributed points can be optimized by controlling data as it traverse your cloud.
- Resources. When it comes to cloud – resources mean everything. The term resources may be a bit all-encompassing. However, specific to a private cloud – administrators must have clear visibility into the following components:
- CPU utilization.
- RAM usage.
- Number of virtual servers or instances (desktops, applications, servers).
- Storage metrics.
- Networking metrics.
- Rack and data center information
- UPS and power data.
This isn’t a full list, but it’s important to get the idea across. If any one of the above parts isn’t properly monitored or managed, the private cloud will not be performing optimally. Private cloud platforms must prevent resource mismanagement at all costs. Remember, at the very heart of the resource conversation sits the data center. Although it’s important to monitor cloud infrastructure resources – ensuring optimal data center performance will also have a direct impact on your cloud infrastructure.
- Security. Regardless of the type of cloud model you deploy, security will always be on the list. Monitoring the security of a private cloud is a must. It now becomes even more challenging as more users bring in their own devices to connect into the corporate cloud. This is where a new type of control needs to be evaluated. In working with next-generation technologies, administrators can leverage advanced access control lists (ACLs), intrusion prevention/detection services (IPS/IDS) and data loss prevention (DLP) solutions. All of this will allow for a controlled flow of data through the internal and external network. Furthermore, using Mobile/Enterprise Device Management (MDM/EDM) solutions will help administrators to better manage the numerous new types of devices that the end-use decides to bring in.
- End-user. Finally, one of the most important control points for a private cloud environment will be the end user. This means that administrators must maintain constant visibility into the end-user environment. Monitoring and controls should be established around the following:
- Logon times.
- The type of device being used.
- Location of the connection (external/internal and secured/unsecured)
By seeing what the user is accessing and how that session is behaving, administrators are able to maintain higher levels of performance. In establishing user controls, IT managers can further deliver a more powerful private cloud computing experience. Remember, the end-user environment continues to evolve. The way that users are consuming information has changed and so has the end-point. Mobility and new end-point technologies can create direct efficiencies for your cloud environment.
The cloud continues to be a very powerful platform. It has the capability to streamline processes and deliver large applications or even desktops almost seamlessly to any device given an Internet connection. The popularity of the private cloud is growing – but so it the management concern. In designing a solid cloud platform, take the time to understand all of the underlying components and how to best manage them.