Moving to a private cloud: Technology choices and implementation issues

How to manage it all?

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You'll want to choose software that provides you with a consistent environment -- whether you are running a workload on an operating system platform (with or without virtualization) or running an application in a private cloud. In other words, choose tools that let you see the same view across execution environments.

Private clouds

You also want the same type of consistency for software licensing across all of the environments in which you are running applications, such as private and public clouds.

Infrastructure management includes managing VMs, storage, backup/recovery and so on. Vendors that sell tools here include Abiquo, Nimsoft, 3Tera, Terremark, CA,, Enomaly, Citrix, Platform Computing, Red Hat, Microsoft, Surgient and VMware. While vendors often claim that their products are targeted for private cloud infrastructures, they sometimes use a very loose definition of "cloud." You should use caution and carefully investigate the functionality of each product.

Another thing to consider is that small firms and some medium-size enterprises often do not have the skills and experience to take on the task of building a private cloud. These organizations would likely need to hire an IT consultant.

There is a second layer of management, service-level management, which involves managing workloads at a level of abstraction above virtual servers. This is where automation is applied. It is also where traditional management tools such as IBM Tivoli and HP InSight work within the private-cloud stack. The list of vendors that claim to have automation management tools includes IBM Tivoli, HP, CA, Oblicore, LineSider Technologies, DynamicOps, VMware and BMC.

Tony Iams, vice president and senior analyst at Ideas International, a comparative intelligence firm for enterprise IT infrastructures, says that almost all system and hardware vendors are pursuing some type of virtualization or cloud management tools.

Some vendors are looking at integrating at the operating system level. Microsoft has done a lot of work here, with its System Center management product, to give visibility over what is happening within the hypervisors and inside virtual servers.

Iams also says that when building a private cloud, you should plan on having to manage multiple hypervisors -- VMware's ESX, Microsoft's Hyper-V, Red Hat and other implementations of the Linux-based KVM and the open-source Xen. Microsoft can manage Hyper-V virtual servers and some aspects of ESX virtual servers. Other cloud vendors, such as VMware and Red Hat, can also manage VMs created by multiple hypervisors. Ideally, you want to control multiple hypervisors from a single interface.

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