Navigating the Journey to a Private Cloud

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Cloud computing dominates the IT conversation today, but what type of cloud—public, private, or hybrid—is right for your organization and how do you get there? “It had been clear that the hybrid approach to cloud computing is of most interest for enterprises,” writes Czaroma Roman in Business Week earlier this month.

Or maybe not. According to IDC: As executives look for ways to systematically reduce costs, provide faster time to value, and improve reliability, they are turning to cloud computing and the development of private cloud capabilities from within their datacenters. Scroll down here to access the IDC report.

An IBM cloud workload adoption study found 60% of respondents were adopting private clouds while 30% were opting for public clouds for certain workloads. Driving this interest in cloud computing is the need for a more flexible IT infrastructure and a new IT delivery model inspired by consumer Internet services, notes Andy Wachs, an IBM system software manager.

Wachs, here, lays out a simple progression for any company's journey into the cloud. It starts with server, storage, and network virtualization. To achieve the efficiency and flexibility inherent in a private cloud, however, those IT resources must be virtualized. Without that you can't move forward.

Wachs' progression continues with a variety of management processes. These include provisioning, monitoring, workflow orchestration, and tracking/metering resource usage. Behind all this management lies automation. Private clouds quickly become too complex to manage manually, especially as the organization progresses to self-service on demand. For this automation is crucial.

Cloud-based self-service on demand means a business manager preparing to launch a new business initiative can simply access a catalog using a browser and check off the IT resources that must be provisioned for the initiative. This eliminates the delays and wrestling match with IT that otherwise occurs whenever IT resources must be requested and set up. The business manager finishes up by checking off the attributes wanted for the requested IT resources, attributes around performance, data protection, availability, and such and then clicks DONE. Ideally--following automated governance--the requested resources materialize in the private cloud properly configured and ready for use within hours if not minutes—at least this is the goal.

As expected, IBM offers services and products at each step of the journey. The main pieces are IBM CloudBurst, a private cloud in a box, and Systems Director and Tivoli management tools.

Other vendors have moved into the cloud area too. HP offers its CloudStart, a fast deployment cloud product.

Open source Red Hat offers a cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) product called CloudForms. The product, now in beta, was demonstrated recently in Boston. It is expected to ship this fall.

Even small vendors are getting involved. Zyrion offers Traverse, a virtualization and cloud monitoring tool.

No matter how you journey to the cloud security always should be a focus. Private clouds have more manageable security challenges since they exist behind the firewall. Still, pay close attention to security and governance.

As IDC points out, private clouds present an opportunity to accelerate the shift to a more automated, self-service form of computing. This not only enables organizations to reduce costs and boost IT utilization but to better match provisioning IT resources with the speed at which businesses need to move these days. Nobody can wait months for the IT resources needed to support a new business initiative anymore.

Don't miss the June 9 webcast Separating the Myths and Facts of Cloud Adoption, which will explore how a cloud strategy can dramatically alter the risk profile of traditional technology strategies.

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