Getting private cloud right takes unconventional thinking

Getting private cloud right takes unconventional thinking

Summary: There are a lot of misconceptions about how to get private cloud right. James Staten clears some of them up.

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Recent Forrester inquiries from enterprise infrastructure and operations (I&O) professionals show that there's still significant confusion between infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) private clouds and server virtualization environments. As a result, there are a lot of misperceptions about what it takes to get your private cloud investments right and drive adoption by your developers. The answers may surprise you; they may even be the opposite of what you're thinking.

From speaking with Forrester clients who have deployed successful private clouds, we've found that your cloud should be smaller than you think, priced cheaper than the ROI math would justify and actively marketed internally - no, private clouds are not a Field of Dreams. Our latest report, "Q&A: How to Get Private Cloud Right" details this unconventional thinking and you may find that internal clouds are much easier than you think.

First and foremost, if you think the way you operate your server virtualization environment today is good enough to call a cloud, you are probably lying to yourself. Per the Forrester definition of cloud computing, your internal cloud must be:

  1. Highly standardized - meaning that the key operational procedures of your internal IaaS environment (provisioning, placement, patching, migration, parking and destroying) should all be documented and conducted the same way every time.
  2. Highly automated - and to make sure the above standardized procedures are done the same time every time you need to take these tasks out of human error and hand them over to automation software
  3. Self-service to developers - We've found that many I&O pros are very much against this concept for fear that it will lead to chaos in the data center. But the reality is just the opposite because of 1 and 2. When you standardize what can be deployed into the cloud and how, you eliminate the risk of chaos. 
  4. Shared and metered - for your internal cloud to be cost effective and have a strong ROI you need it to be highly utilized - much more so than your traditional virtualziation environment. And the way to get there is to share a single cloud among all departments inside your company. And the way to cost-justify the cloud is to at least track everyone's consumption, if not to charge back for it.

Our survey data and discussions with clients show that only 6 percent of enterprise I&O shops operate their virtualized environments at this level of sophistication. So if you aren't here yet, you aren't alone.

There's much more to getting a private cloud right that is covered in the report. And I and Forrester researcher Lauren Nelson will be leading a discussion on this important topic on June 9 at Forrester's IT Forum EMEA in Barcelona. We hope you will join us.

Forrester ForrSights surveys show that 29 percent of I&O shops have put a high or critical priority on building a private cloud this year. You can successfully deploy and operate a private cloud. Whether you start with a cloud solution or build one yourself but ignoring these truths about IaaS environments will keep success at bey.

Topics: Virtualization, Banking, Cloud, Hardware, Servers

James Staten

About James Staten

James Staten is a Vice President and Principal Analyst at Forrester Research, serving Infrastructure and Operations professionals.

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7 comments
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  • imprecise language is the bane of any industry

    Far too often, "Architects" state what is and is not a cloud to them. I cannot tell you how many conversations I have where a telecom closet with a few servers in it is called a private cloud.

    If you can call a server rack a private cloud, then I can call my laptop a personal cloud.
    Your Non Advocate
    • RE: Getting private cloud right takes unconventional thinking

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      • RE: Getting private cloud right takes unconventional thinking

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  • Private cloud in the Public Sector

    For public sector (i.e., Federal, state, local governments, Universities, and other tax-base funded entities), why not purchase hardware-as-service and have the vendor host it in government data centers?

    OPEX dollars. Pay-as-you-go. User-self provisioned compute and storage environments (with a little engineering assistance for complex needs, such as scientific collaborations and enterprise-class self-tiering storage), etc.

    Unconventional thinking is what lead to the success of the DoD private cloud - hosted in the Defense Information Systems Agency beginning in 2008. Five vendors own equipment, government controls the equipment, owns the data, dictates the SLAs, provisions operating environments and storage from choice of web portal or emailed workorder, pays ony for what is used, and charges back external-to-the-agency DoD and Military users on a pay-as-you-go model. This way DISA does not have to bear the expense and risk of capital expensed equipment and software assets, and negates the many risks of non-governmental datacenter and cloud provider terms&conditions. The vendors essentially "hold the paper," provide engineering and break/fix support, and live to government-dictated terms&conditions (which are FAR different from commercial service provider T&Cs, and far better for government when it comes to corporate accountability and punitive actions -- more "teeth" in the terms).

    Just sayin.
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  • RE: Getting private cloud right takes unconventional thinking

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