The Private Cloud: How ready is your infrastructure?

Happy New Year from all at CXO Unplugged!  If your organisation is amongst the 80% planning to pursue a private cloud strategy by 2014, assessing the cloud-readiness of your existing infrastructure is a vital first step.  Vince DeLuca takes a look at the 14 technologies that could make or break your private cloud strategy

Transitioning an IT infrastructure to take advantage of cloud computing – public or private – is a long journey passing a fair amount of territory that, for most IT departments, remains largely uncharted.

The challenge lies in upgrading, revising and, in some cases, creating the variety of systems that need to work together to realise a company’s private cloud ambitions – and meeting that challenge cost-effectively depends on thoroughly assessing the systems you already have.

Take a look at this run-down of the 14 technology areas that are fundamental to delivering a private cloud strategy and ask yourself, “Where do our systems and policies register on the cloud-readiness scale?”

  1. Server Hardware: Certain types of server platforms are better suited to the dynamic provisioning capabilities required to implement cloud services in an IT environment - blade-based servers and scalable servers that lend themselves to large virtualized workloads for example.
  2. Storage: SAN-based storage that provides the ability to implement advanced features such as remote copy services, snapshots and cloning are ideal. Appropriate connectivity methods for the size and scope of the workloads—such as Fiber Channel or FCOE—are also critical
  3. Networking: A flexible structured network environment which supports converged networking, 10 Gbps Ethernet, flexible security, and load balancing functionality is important for cloud-based architectures.
  4. Data Backup Systems: A dynamic cloud environment can place additional requirements on enterprise backup solutions. Integration with virtualization platforms and advanced scheduling capabilities play key roles in preventing performance and scaling issues.
  5. Virtualisation: Virtualisation is not a requirement for cloud-based environments, but a mature virtualized infrastructure can significantly reduce the time to implement cloud functionality.
  6. System Management/Monitoring: A mature system management infrastructure is the key to smooth operation, troubleshooting and objective performance measurement.
  7. Service Orchestration: Service orchestration– the ability to centrally control the tasks required to deploy, document, and retire systems in a cloud environment – is critical to reducing deployment time, and to driving higher levels of consistency and efficiencies into a cloud environment.
  8. Configuration Management: Configuration management tools can illustrate the interactions and dependencies between servers and applications and help ensure compliance with corporate and industry governance rules and regulations.
  9. Chargeback/Showback: Chargeback/Showback assigns costs to the consumption of IT resources (i.e., hardware, floor space, power/cooling, licensing, and IT personnel), ensuring that users don’t take ‘self provisioning’ to mean ‘instant gratification’.
  10. Performance/Capacity Planning Tools: These tools are used to predict growth patterns and to run simulated growth scenarios to proactively determine when capital investments are needed.
  11. Service Catalog: A service catalog is a list of IT services that an organization provides to its employees or customers; the catalog describes each service, the SLAs associated with the service, who is entitled to the service, and the costs associated with the service.
  12. Change Management/CMDB: The configuration management database (CMDB) – a fundamental component of the ITIL framework’s configuration management process – maps key component relationships and tracks their configuration.
  13. Adoption of SaaS: The appeal of Software as a Service (SaaS) – hosted applications – has resulted in business units subscribing to SaaS applications outside of IT. Extending governance to include renegade SaaS is a feature of all successful private cloud strategies.
  14. PaaS Management of Key Applications: Platform as a Service (PaaS) solutions liberate the deployment of applications from the underlying hardware, software and provisioning capabilities, supporting the complete lifecycle of building and delivering web applications and services in the cloud and simplifying the deployment, scaling and management of multi-tier applications and multi-tenant environments.

All of these systems are mutually dependent and must interact smoothly to produce a fully functional private cloud environment – so any gaps in your infrastructure and policies will need to be addressed before you set off on a journey to a private cloud.

The good news, however, is that they don’t have to be tackled all at once. A more sensible, less disruptive and less costly apporach is to address each one when it makes both technological and financial sense to do so.  After all, as I said at the outset, migrating to a private cloud infrastructure is a journey, not a flick of a switch.

This month we also will be looking at how schools are leading BYOD adoption, and DRaaS in the wake of a super storm.

Tags private cloud, cloud computing, Cloud Computing, Business Strategy