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The challenges of moving to a private cloud

Bill Claybrook | Nov. 16, 2010
In this article, we delve deeper into the technology choices needed for the virtualization, management and automation required for a private cloud.

What do you see as the drawbacks of private clouds compared to public clouds?

(Check all that apply.)

Having to build it all internally: time, cost, learning curve for IT: 50 per cent

Scalability: 33 per cent

Having to implement virtualization, automation and orchestration when we didn't have those tools before: 30 per cent

No drawbacks: 11 per cent

Source: Computerworld online survey; 54 respondents

Most organizations are not good at monitoring and keeping ahead of capacity. To be able to satisfy user demands, you always have to have some extra capacity on the data center floor, which means a certain amount of hardware sitting around in idle mode. Keeping a history of capacity usage in your enterprise can help you make sure that you have sufficient -- but not too much -- capacity.

One solution is to create a hybrid cloud environment and, when capacity is not available in the private cloud, move requests for capacity to public clouds such as Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud.

Once the cluster is up and running, you can start provisioning virtual servers. The result is a tiered architecture with a server layer, a network layer and a virtualization layer. There is a management tool at each layer. "Now you can start thinking about automation," Driscoll says.

Some security concerns

Driscoll says that private clouds are great for businesses with security concerns or regulatory requirements, although Suncorp's Cameron says that private clouds force implementers to rethink how they do security.

Are you implementing chargeback or some kind of pay-per-use model for your end-users to pay for their piece of the private cloud?

Yes: 30 per cent

No, we had chargeback/pay per use before the cloud: 18 per cent

No, we don't have any type of chargeback or pay-per-use planned: 52 per cent

Source: Computerworld online survey; 54 respondents

For example, the way in which firewalls are handled in traditional data centers is not going to always work in cloud environments where workloads can be moved around. The reason: In a virtualized environment, servers may be organized into different security groups, and the security of the target host may not be satisfactory for a virtual machine (VM) being migrated to it.

Suncorp is now well advanced in virtualizing its firewalls. Virtualized firewalls are important because multiple VMs may be connected using virtualized network switches and other virtualized components, as opposed to a network running entirely over physical hardware and cabling.

Bottom line is that the security issues in virtual environments are not always the same as those in non-virtual environments.

Managing the storage piece

Storage isn't always as big an issue as some would have you think. If storage problems exist in your virtualized environment, there are some ways of dealing with them, including deduplication, thin provisioning and becoming more savvy about the way you purchase storage.


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