Think You Have a Private Cloud Already? You Might Not.

Written by Ike Syed

There’s an old story about when Sherlock Holmes and his assistant, Watson, went camping. It’s the middle of the night. Holmes nudges Watson: “Look up at the sky and tell me what you deduce.”

Watson looks up and comments on the starry sky. He observes there must be billions of stars and planets. Astrologically, Saturn is in Leo. He deduces by the stars that the time must be about a quarter past three. The sky is clear, so he guesses it won’t rain.

He then asks, “My friend, Holmes, what do you see?” To which the wise fictional detective responds: “Watson, you fool. Someone has stolen our tent!”

In the same way Watson missed the forest for the trees, enterprises might not understand their current predicament regarding the cloud. When you take a look at what they’re actually operating, it’s easy to see they don’t embody what experts think of as a private cloud, and they’re not getting the full benefits as a result.

First, a definition. Forrester Research defines private clouds as having:

  • Self-service access
  • Full automation of processes and policies
  • Metering and tracking of usage 

But then again, Forrester says an organization’s approach to building and operating a private cloud will vary depending on which part of the organization is driving the push to get the cloud running in the first place.

All told, Forrester counts four distinct approaches to private clouds, each of whose size and scope are dictated by the internal interest group that is driving it. The four approaches, according to Forrester, are:

  • Enhanced virtualization: This involves putting software atop an existing set of virtual servers and related computing technology, the idea being to improve infrastructure operations and agility while cutting down on resource consumption. Of the four approaches, enhanced virtualization is the most common approach, Forrester says. This isn’t a true private cloud, but ultimately it works better than nothing. Infrastructure and operational professionals, especially virtualization administrators, typically lead this initiative. Their involvement makes the project faster and simpler. A fly in the ointment: The enhanced virtualization approach doesn’t use all the capabilities of a cloud setup, and therefore gets less bang for the buck. 
  • Test/dev cloud: Using “lightweight” software atop a small set of existing resources in order to provide faster access to resources for developers. The goal is to either complement the use of public cloud computing or circumvent the public cloud altogether. As with enhanced virtualization, test/dev cloud initiatives are also led by infrastructure and operational professionals. The main benefit is primarily for software developers, who get their information technology resources faster. But greater speed comes with a price tag, both figuratively and literally. Getting through internal politics, designing the right incentives for key users and finding cost-effective technology are just some of the headaches that IT leaders must grapple with. 
  • Public-cloud-lite: In a similar vein to the test/dev cloud, this is an alternative to the public cloud that can serve more workloads, accommodate more customization and use people’s skills while still making computing capacity available quickly. But unlike enhanced virtualization and test/dev, deployments under the public-cloud-lite approach usually are led by developers who seek speed when building small private cloud environments. They are simply tired of waiting two days for technology deployments. This approach helps them get projects up and running faster than alternative approaches. The problem: Maintaining scale. Once a public-cloud-lite deployment exceeds 200 virtual machines, maintaining the broader system becomes too much of a hassle. 
  • Transformational cloud. The organization seeks to use the private cloud approach to overhaul itself. Of the four types of private clouds that Forrester outlines, transformational is the broadest in scope – and likely the biggest change that IT departments have seen. Although major IT leaders head up initiatives like this, they need backing from the top of the organization. After all, a transformational cloud has the ability to improve almost everything that IT touches, including faster access to resources, better IT time efficiency, even direct revenue generation from the IT department. But pricey, far-reaching efforts like this often face big barriers in the form of budgets, oversight and control, and internal politics.

The Missing Element

To date, the missing element has been a way for companies to take the transformational approach to cloud computing without considerable effort to overcome these barriers.

That’s why Connectloud is excited to introduce a new wave of cloud management platform that knocks down these barriers. Analysts with both Forrester and Gartner have noted that the enterprise market is waiting for a solution that provides instant, self-service private clouds based on open-source code.

With that option now available, companies have no more need to waste time or money on false solutions or tether themselves to legacy providers. The complete, scalable package is now available – better, cheaper, faster.

Why settle for anything less?