26 Sep 2012

Private Cloud is actually a very interesting topic (if you forget all the hype around ze Cloud (<- insert Toy Story alien ooo sound here)). First, let’s clarify what I mean by “Private Cloud” (it has been used to describe many things lately, so let’s make sure we start at the same place). I will simply describe it a company owned system composed of software and hardware assembled together to provide cloud type services (IaaS, PaaS, SaaS) to identified users via automation. I know they are some grey areas, but as far as I am concerned:

  • On-prem or off-prem is irrelevant (it’s mostly a question of power, cooling and bandwidth)
  • If you don’t own it, it’s a “Public Cloud” (could be Dedicated, Shared, Community, but not Private)
  • If any user can access/subscribe to your cloud, you are a cloud provider and that makes it Public
  • If you own it but do not manage it, it’s still a Private Cloud, you are just buying a management service (even if it’s called outsourcing)

Users want to use it, IT wants to play with it, the vendors want to sell it, the integrators want to install it… So why doesn’t everybody have one? I think it’s mostly a question of control. IT is heavily siloed and everyone is [slightly] worried that they will be replaced by the automation. So as a whole “IT” likes it, but as a series of individual, the “what will happen to ME” becomes more important. Unfortunately, that reflects the exact thing that end users have been criticizing IT for: an unwillingness to move forward. IT should must be a business enabler. IT shops that embrace this principle are not afraid of the cloud, they love it! Moving all those repetitive tasks to an automation layer frees them to do perform “value add” tasks.

That brings me to part two: automation is great, but how do you avoid spending weeks/months automating everything? By getting a pre-tested system! Whether you are just following the guidelines from a reference architecture such as EMC VSPEX or NetApp/Cisco FlexPod, buying a complete infrastructure such as an IBM PureFlex or VCE vBlock or buying a pre-build complete system such as an Oracle Exadata or an IBM PureApplication, all those system will save you precious engineering time. I know, everybody has an opinion about which server works best, what storage vendor is better, what chipset provides the better performance… Unfortunately, very few companies have the resources to test everything together (and I would argue that in many cases, even the ones that can shouldn’t). Is there a remote possibility that you will manage to engineer a better solutions that the vendors who created the hardware and spent millions testing it? Yes! Is it worth the effort? No! If you know that your environment is special, have a chat with the vendor, many offer ways to tweak the systems for your special needs while keeping the value of all the engineering they put into the system.

Looks like this is turning into a rant 🙂 (liberating I must admit)

Bottom line: Private Clouds are great, get one (it may not solve all your problems, but it will help to give you back time to solve the ones left).