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The value proposition of the public cloud is pretty clear. Indeed, there are few companies today that aren’t taking advantage of it in some way. The benefits of a private cloud can be a bit more challenging to define.
Jim Rapoza, editorial director and senior analyst at the Aberdeen Group, has seen the innovative ways in which many companies have effectively implemented a private cloud. Here, he shares some of its use cases, and recommends what companies should focus on when building one.
According to Rapoza, one of the main reasons to implement a private cloud is to gain better management over your virtualized infrastructure and be able to better provide services to end users and the business.
“As businesses have used server virtualization over the years, they’ve run into a lot of problems, such as virtual machine sprawl and orphaned virtual machines and applications,” said Rapoza. “Private cloud makes it easier to bring these under control and ensure that only applications and services that are needed and being used are provisioned.”
The other main reason for implementing private cloud, according to Rapoza, is to, “add that kind of simple application request and provisioning that you get in the public cloud to internal IT services,” he said. “So, just as [a web services company] makes it simple to quickly start up a new application or service in the cloud, a good business private cloud lets users and business departments quickly request and activate applications and services with limited demand on IT resources.”
Once companies have determined that it makes sense for them to implement a private cloud, there are two key areas to focus on: hardware infrastructure and management systems, said Rapoza.
“You need to ensure that the hardware infrastructure is optimized for virtualization and private cloud,” he said. “The last thing you need in a private cloud is significant downtime, so organizations should implement hardware systems that have high availability, good fault tolerance and a lot of flexibility. From a software standpoint, ensure that your private cloud management systems have good application portal and provisioning capabilities, and make it possible for IT to track application usage and even leverage features like chargeback or showback to track usage of resources.“
When it comes to the public and private cloud, it’s not an either/or situation. Companies that implement private cloud capabilities need to determine how the public cloud can and should be integrated.
“You need to ensure that you can take advantage of hybrid cloud capabilities wherever possible,” said Rapoza. “These can be vital for handling surges in demand and also to provide good disaster recovery capabilities.“
In the end, said Rapoza, private cloud is about having a more agile and flexible IT infrastructure. “Instead of the old school IT days where requesting and building a new application can take months (and results in something that doesn’t meet the original requirements), a good private cloud lets organizations quickly and efficiently get the applications and services that the business needs up and running.”
Deb Donston-Miller has worked as a tech journalist and editor since 1990. If you have a story you would like profiled, contact her at [email protected]
The IT Innovators series of articles is underwritten by Microsoft, and is editorially independent.