Quenching the Thirst for Private Cloud

Private clouds are catching fire. It’s a way for security conscious or highly regulated organizations to take their first steps into cloud computing. The U.S. Army, for example, is moving to consolidate servers via compute clouds in select data centers to rein in server sprawl. The announcement was made in the wake of the discovery that server shipments had spiked by 23 percent in the first quarter of 2010.

What causes virtual server sprawl? Although businesses have long taken advantage of virtualization capabilities, this hasn’t prevented server sprawl in the least. In fact, it’s even more challenging to inventory virtual servers across the enterprise. With no automated processes and controls in place for deploying virtual environments, it still can take organizations upwards of 45-60 days to deliver a new virtual server. Thus, users often subvert IT workflows to get what they need, and there’s not always a way to track these resources. This adds to the VM sprawl problem.

That’s why process control is so important when deploying private cloud. What if, for example, users could visit a self-service portal, identify the IT resources they’re entitled to, see associated costs and quickly obtain necessary approvals and provisioning. With this model, users would gain access to a virtualized environment in hours instead of weeks. In this scenario, it’s critical that as virtual environments are created, they are tied directly back to the existing security infrastructure. This way, the business would have tighter controls over access rights.

Private clouds today
User acceptance testing labs were among the first workloads to be moved to private clouds. Rather than requisitioning hardware, network infrastructure and associated software, development teams can quickly spin up a development environment with the right identity controls in place. If the tests are successful in the development environment, it’s easy to move those workloads back in-house into production environments.

Internal and hybrid clouds
While some businesses manage virtualized environments internally, many are choosing to outsource these capabilities. To capitalize on this trend, outsourcer Computer Sciences Corporation launched CloudLab and CloudExchange services, making it easy to quickly create virtualized development environments on behalf of its clients. Each of its clients’ clouds is managed on discrete servers to prevent comingling of data. This is essentially a “hybrid” cloud. It’s not truly “private” because it’s not inside the company’s four walls, but it’s not a public cloud where workloads from many businesses are sharing resources.

Of course cloud computing will not replace all physical servers. While it’s a disruptive technology, there will still be businesses that choose to maintain their own IT departments for certain workloads and projects. However, as organizations become more comfortable with the cloud, we’ll see surges in cloud computing adoption to take advantage of its undeniable cost and agility benefits.

Where do you see the most value for private clouds in your business? We’d welcome your input.

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