Moving to a private cloud: Technology choices and implementation issues

How to manage it all?

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Frank Gillett, an analyst at Forrester, says, "It is unrealistic to think that we are going to get many of these management tools to work together." Instead, what will likely happen over time, he predicts, is that " the market shrinks dramatically" and the handful of vendors left offer "much more integrated capabilities."

IT shops need federation and interoperability, Gillett adds, "and we are very early in those efforts. We may be able to bring private cloud management tools together, but it will be a messy interim period."

Some IT managers have indicated that they are looking to go with large, established companies for cloud technology because they cannot trust their data centers to start-ups that may not be in business in a year or two.

Deacon agrees. He says that the large companies like HP and IBM will likely buy up cloud-based start-ups and add the start-ups' software to their existing portfolios. This is what HP did with OpsWare and BMC did with BladeLogic. And CA has been on a buying spree, acquiring Nimsoft, Oblicore, 3Tera and others.

Transitioning to a private cloud: Summary

Implementing a private cloud is not easy. Some enterprises use home-grown tools. Others create cloud stacks consisting of components from multiple vendors. Still others buy all their software from Microsoft or VMware, thereby locking themselves into a single vendor.

Regardless of the differences in approach, organizations that take on the task of deploying a private cloud are generally doing it for the same reasons: to lower costs and provide more agile provisioning. However, many of the processes and procedures that have been used in data centers for many years require changes.

Are you working with a third-party firm to help implement your private cloud?

(Select all that apply.)

No, we're not using any outside help: 44%
Yes, our primary systems (hardware) vendor: 24%
Yes, a systems integrator: 21%
Yes, our primary software vendor: 15%
Yes, a consultancy that doesn't sell hardware or software: 13%
We're hiring some temporary or permanent hands-on experts to supplement our existing IT staff: 11%
A third-party vendor is hosting and implementing my private cloud in its data center: 9%

Source: Computerworld online survey; 54 respondents

This is probably the most difficult part of implementing a private cloud. IT organizations have many processes and requirements in the provisioning process, including budget requirements, discussions with storage, network and server groups -- and lots of paperwork. These methods are directly opposed to the streamlined, short-duration provisioning associated with private cloud computing using automation and orchestration.

There will be enormous pressure from business users to start using clouds. If the data center operations group cannot respond quickly with its private cloud, then expect your business users to look at public clouds as an alternative.

This is why, in the past year, some IT organizations have begun to work quickly on deploying private clouds. To successfully compete with public cloud providers, IT staff need to deploy similar services in-house, making it better and more attractive to use their private cloud than to have applications groups go outside the enterprise to public clouds.

Bill Claybrook is an analyst with more than 30 years of experience in the computer industry, specializing in Linux, open source, virtualization and cloud computing. He is president of New River Marketing Research in Concord, Mass., and holds a Ph.D. in computer science. He can be reached at

Research assistance for the Computerworld survey provided by Mari Keefe, editorial project manager.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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