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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.

"All we needed to do was to move storage up a tier" -- from Serial ATA to Integrated Drive Electronics -- "to resolve some initial performance issues," says Craig Baughn, vice president of hosting services at Concur. At first, the company had "slightly underestimated" the I/O requirements of the virtualized environment, he explains. "We found that it's critical to profile the storage demand of a given server/application before moving it to a VM so we can place it on the correct storage tier out of the gate."

The architecture that Concur deployed "allowed us to leverage deduplication wisely," Baughn says, and achieve greater than 40x compression without sacrificing performance. Deduplication is a storage-based means of eliminating duplicate or redundant information. One benefit of doing this, he explains, is that the VM reboot time is twice as fast, on average, when compared to that of physical servers.

To help manage your private cloud,are you using:

Some combination of new and old tools: 63 per cent

The same tools we use for our physical server infrastructure: 22 per cent

A different set of tools entirely: 11 per cent

Other: 4 per cent

Source: Computerworld online survey; 54 respondents

Baughn says, "We are focused on making the capacity in our private cloud elastic, expanding dynamically when the needs of our clients and employees require more capacity." Concur chose VMware for its virtualization software, CA's Service Assurance Suite for monitoring and BMC's BladeLogic Server Automation Suite to help manage its private cloud.

The case for management tools

The first step in managing private clouds is to get management tools that can bridge the physical infrastructure and the virtual infrastructure. You will have to manage physical servers running no virtualization software and physical servers hosting virtual machines, because not all servers are likely to be resources in the private cloud.

You'll want to choose software that provides you with a consistent environment -- whether you are running a workload on an operating system platform (with or without virtualization) or running an application in a private cloud. In other words, choose tools that let you see the same view across execution environments.

Private clouds

You also want the same type of consistency for software licensing across all of the environments in which you are running applications -- private and public cloud, etc.

Infrastructure management includes managing VMs, storage, backup/recovery and so on. Vendors that sell tools here include Abiquo, Nimsoft, 3Tera, Terremark, CA,, Enomaly, Citrix, Platform Computing, Red Hat, Microsoft, Surgient and VMware. While vendors often claim that their products are targeted for private cloud infrastructures, they sometimes use a very loose definition of 'cloud.' You should use caution and carefully investigate the functionality of each product.


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