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So You Want to Build a Private Cloud?

Some considerations when designing your (IPVE) Internal Private Virtualized Environment - "Private Cloud"

As the cacophony of cloud evangelism expands into several areas of industry, one much talked about aspect is that of the private cloud.

But what really is a private cloud, and once within an organization's security perimeter is such a system a pure cloud computing ecosystem? (Of course within the security perimeter - IT Security teams again have the advantage of control in lieu of that in a public cloud.) Bear in mind though once you start thinking of access from outside your "private cloud" the whole security dynamic will change. At this point your cloud security perimeter becomes dynamic and can be impacted by systems/issues/controls, out of your IT Security teams control and in some instances areas of expertize.

As we know some business advantages of cloud computing are its impact on Cap-Ex and OP-Ex - lowering costs and gaining a better ROI on any technology investments. From an operational standpoint such a system can increase the agility of IT functions e.g. off-loading some data centre operations.

Werner Vogels CTO Amazon.com stated [1]

"When people talk about private or internal clouds, they are usually very expensive fixed cost, private installation of infrastructure which lacks all the key benefits of the cloud. Companies still own all the capital expense at data centers and incur ongoing high maintenance costs."

From another view, Sanjay Mirchandani Senior VP and CIO at EMC stated [2]

"The private cloud uses highly virtualized pools of compute, storage and network capabilities to optimize IT performance and utilization while providing the business with services that improve efficiency and agility. This offers organizations a way to circumvent the increasing complexity, inflexibility and cost of IT environments to be more competitive in the market place through greater efficiency, control, choice, quality of service and, most importantly, business agility."

Where does this fit your organizational needs? For some there are a variety of reasons to have a private environment (Security, auditability etc).

In these instances (no pun intended) when considering the implementation of an Internal Private Virtualized Environment (IPVE) "private cloud" some question to consider are :

  1. Will implementing a "private cloud" lower operational costs, or will an organization still have to pay for resources?
  2. Will there be scalability that is equivalent to that of a public computing environment?
  3. Will such an infrastructure improve operational agility or be restricted by limits on resources?
  4. Will you be able to effectively monitor your server, storage and network resources and make changes to resources accordingly to avoid bottlenecks?
  5. With legacy applications will virtualization be your starting point for your "private cloud".
  6. How will you achieve federation of data and resources between data centers?

Leveraging virtualization technologies will definitely impact an organization's OPEx, and can possibly lay the groundwork to migrate into the direction of, or even leverage benefits from the public cloud computing ecosystem if that is an organizational objective as it evolves its requirements.

This of course will have metrics to meet e.g. SLA, Security mirroring (from private to public cloud), operational requirements etc. Of course IT by then should have the expertize, experience and authorization to easily manage change from an internal private environment to an external cloud computing service. (Of course by then self-service and metering should have been implemented and proven viable within the internal private system.)

Goals for any IPVE "private cloud" build can be designed from Cloud Computing definitions

  • Software as a Service (SaaS): aim to provides applications and tools that will augment business growth/change.
  • Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS): aim to provide offerings that will empower business units the ability to provision infrastructure components e.g. storage, network, compute and operating systems services.
  • Platform as a Service (PaaS): ensure provisions for application and information frameworks over application server, web server, and database components, which can be utilized in developing solutions.

Another important component will be to have some sort of IPVE "private cloud" Management System.

Researchers [3] at The Hochschule Furtwangen University (HFU) designed a "private cloud" with such a System in mind.

They divided this system into several layers for "extensibility and maintainability with Monitoring and Management and Security components incorporated across all layers to ensure high reliability and secured services."

They categorized the management system layers as follows:

  • User interface layer: providing various access points to users and/or administrators of the management system
  • Business layer:which aims to regulate resource supply and demand throug the use of economy and Service-Level Agreements (SLA). In addition, this layer enables users to reserve VMs in advance and manage their personal VMs
  • System layer:which is responsible for daily operation of the CMS, such as submitting jobs, managing user accounts and monitoring Quality of Service (QoS)
  • Resource interface layer: deals with the physical hardware. It provides interfaces and plugins to various virtualization, database and distributed systems as well as other technologies.
  • Monitoring and management component: This component ensures the reliability of each layer in the system and allows the system administrator to monitor and initiate activities of each layer. E.g. In case of failures, conflicts with SLA objectives or under- or over-utilized resources.
  • Security component: This ensures the privacy, recovery, integrity and security of user data and transactions are met as well as regulatory compliance and data auditing.

So where do we go from here in reality? I am certain most of you who work within the public cloud-space have dealt with the frustration of noisy neighbours (users demanding more CPU time than you), CPU instance performance issues, latency etc. Would building an IPVE "private cloud" mitigate these frustrations and ratify its cost?

That my friends will be a decision that you and your management team must fully investigate, 'cause as we know; at the end of the day an enterprise must remain profitable, while ensuring that it meets its expectations of service, quality and social requirements.

A few things you can look at as you decide on building your private system are The Cisco Unified Service Delivery solution, which combines the Cisco UCS architecture with the Cisco Nexus solutions, Application Control Engine (ACE) and Multiprotocol Label Switching (MPLS) next-generation network.

Also take a look at EMC2 with their technical, operational and strategic (TOS) model as they build their own private cloud and their EMC IT's Journey to the Private Cloud: A Practitioner's Guide.

And finally take a look at VMware's vSphere as it relates to the Cisco Nexus series mentioned above.

In concluding I would like to state that while working on a cloud project in the small business arena which impacted my research at RHUL, we were able via server virtualization and consolidation to have 7 servers do that work that 30 servers were normally performing. The obvious wins for us was cost savings and utilization. (One thing that we had assigned an immediate future need was encryption tools with regard to levels of data classification, for data at rest and in motion.)

An example of larger venture's success - EMC [5] was able to consolidate 1250 servers into 250, improving their CPU and memory utilization rates with aims to improve storage utilization from 68% to 80% with a cloud storage based design.With a cloud based storage design they anticipate increasing storage utilization rates from 68% to 80%.

Best of Luck !


[1] Is Private Cloud a Cloud at All? [CIOL.com] 

[2] How Private Cloud Shakes Up Traditional IT Roles [CIO.com]

[3] Private cloud for collaboration and e-Learning services: from IaaS to SaaS: Frank Doelitzscher, Anthony Sulistio,Christoph Reich,Hendrik Kuijs,David Wolf: Computing DOI 10.1007/s00607-010-0106-z Springer-Verlag 2010

[4] The Journey to the Private Cloud Starts Now [EMC.com] 

[5] EMC IT's Journey to the Private Cloud: A Practitioner's Guide.

[6] VMware vSphere (VMware.com]

More Stories By Jon Shende

Jon RG Shende is an executive with over 18 years of industry experience. He commenced his career, in the medical arena, then moved into the Oil and Gas environment where he was introduced to SCADA and network technologies,also becoming certified in Industrial Pump and Valve repairs. Jon gained global experience over his career working within several verticals to include pharma, medical sales and marketing services as well as within the technology services environment, eventually becoming the youngest VP of an international enterprise. He is a graduate of the University of Oxford, holds a Masters certificate in Business Administration, as well as an MSc in IT Security, specializing in Computer Crime and Forensics with a thesis on security in the Cloud. Jon, well versed with the technology startup and mid sized venture ecosystems, has contributed at the C and Senior Director level for former clients. As an IT Security Executive, Jon has experience with Virtualization,Strategy, Governance,Risk Management, Continuity and Compliance. He was an early adopter of web-services, web-based tools and successfully beta tested a remote assistance and support software for a major telecom. Within the realm of sales, marketing and business development, Jon earned commendations for turnaround strategies within the services and pharma industry. For one pharma contract he was responsibe for bringing low performing districts up to number 1 rankings for consecutive quarters; as well as outperforming quotas from 125% up to 314%. Part of this was achieved by working closely with sales and marketing teams to ensure message and product placement were on point. Professionally he is a Fellow of the BCS Chartered Institute for IT, an HITRUST Certified CSF Practitioner and holds the CITP and CRISC certifications.Jon Shende currently works as a Senior Director for a CSP. A recognised thought Leader, Jon has been invited to speak for the SANs Institute, has spoken at Cloud Expo in New York as well as sat on a panel at Cloud Expo Santa Clara, and has been an Ernst and Young CPE conference speaker. His personal blog is located at http://jonshende.blogspot.com/view/magazine "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit."

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