There are now many vendors now in the quickly maturing Private Cloud space. A full list may be found here.
The basic model for Private Cloud providers is to allow customers to choose the best mix for their needs with regard to Private Cloud managed services.
So, where some customers may choose to have the Private Cloud provider manage the entire stack, others choose to split the management (above versus below the hypervisor) and keep some portion of the work or some specific environment internal to their organization.
Services Catalog Choices
Private Cloud providers offer a variety of choices, typically, through self-help web interface. Through the interface, a Private Cloud customer can select what work they would like completed, and then have that work completed through automated processes.
The service catalog offerings allow customers to specify some basics such as, how the servers are configured through predefined server templates, the number and timing of backups, user and entitlements management.
Beyond the basics, customers can request custom server templates, or modifications to existing templates. Choose the selected Operating System that they will support (e.g., Linux, Windows XP, Windows 7, etc).
The number of server or DB images per server type. The number of backups which constitutes the default setting. Lastly, the customer may specify user entitlements, and user mappings to cloud roles.
A fully managed Private Cloud would include the services above and below the hypervisor.
Below the Hypervisor
Below the hypervisor refers to the physical hardware, the virtualization stack and cloud software which comprise the Private Cloud offering. The sorts of support items included here are:
- Image build and maintenance (VMware) support
- Cloud delivery support
- Hardware delivery and maintenance, including network and storage support
- Installation and configuration services
Above the Hypervisor
Above the hypervisor is a Virtual Machine and the services required for its support. The sorts of services include the following:
- The new Virtual Machine (VM) – UNIX / Intel support
- Hardening and security management
- Database (DB) support
- Disaster Recovery (DR) or Business Continuity and Recovery Services (BCRS) support
- User ID Management – for users and groups
- Asset Management – tracking of all of the systems.
Managed versus Unmanaged Private Cloud
A managed Private Cloud includes everything, top to bottom, above and below the hypervisor. An unmanaged Private Cloud means that the Private Cloud provider manages everything below the hypervisor, while you, the customer, manage everything above the hypervisor in an environment.
The question becomes, what are you comfortable supporting? Should you have the Private Cloud provider manage the VM, DB, etc. or to split this off and manage it yourself? For some, the question is simply, which environments make sense for us to support?
For example, you may want to only support their Development and Testing environments, choosing to have the Private Cloud provider support your Production, Quality Assurance (QA), and Disaster Recovery (DR) environments.
In the above example, the Development and Test environments are part of an Unmanaged Private Cloud, while Production, QA and DR are part of a Managed Private Cloud.
This means that for the development environment, you will manage the hardening of the VMs; specifically, the tools that need to be installed, validation of backups, any health check or audit readiness process that would be required, as well as managing the change management process.
For the systems in Production, the Private Cloud provider manages all of these services. The benefit to you is that the provider is managing production support, while you gain the agility to quickly provision servers in development.
The trade off is that you are responsible for change management, compliance, and capacity management, to name a few. But given it is only the development and test environments, perhaps your risk tolerance profile allows for this, or you have the processes in place to manage these aspects of the environments you manage.
What do you think? Would your organization opt for a fully managed or unmanaged Private Cloud?