How to Build a Private Cloud

With services, strategy and security to consider, servers come in last on your task list.

When pursuing a private cloud strategy, technology is the least of your worries, says Thomas Bittman, a vice president and distinguished analyst for Gartner. Instead, focus on getting user buy-in, understanding their needs and requirements, and working out the business processes.

When pursuing a private cloud strategy, technology is the least of your worries, says Thomas Bittman, a vice president and distinguished analyst for Gartner. Instead, focus on getting user buy-in, understanding their needs and requirements, and working out the business processes.

Last December, the market research firm asked 167 IT professionals attending the 2010 Gartner Data Center Conference to identify their top challenges when creating a private cloud computing service. Issues such as management and operations processes, culture and politics, and having a funding or chargeback model topped the list. Technology, on the other hand, ranked sixth out of seven options.

"I have too many clients say, 'I want a private cloud. What do I buy?' That's not the right approach," Bittman says. "Everything is about culture, politics, process and the funding model. Focus on those things first. You need strong leadership to make it happen, and then you focus on technology."

To successfully build a private cloud, Bittman recommends the following steps:

    • First, conduct an inventory of your current services throughout the organization and determine service-level agreements and requirements. "It's not a 'build it and they will come' model," Bittman says. "You need to figure out what services to offer first."
    • Second, determine how much the services currently cost and how much it will cost to deliver them over the cloud. During this step, evaluate services available over the public cloud. For example, if a commercial provider can offer some services at less expense, it doesn't make sense to spend money to build those services in-house in a private cloud. Having said that, consider public cloud services only if they meet your security and regulatory compliance requirements, he says.

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  • Third, develop a strategy and technology roadmap for providing services over a private cloud, and then build a business case. If you determine there's a good return on investment, build the private cloud.
  • Once the infrastructure is in place, constantly benchmark and compare your private cloud services with the public cloud to make sure doing it in-house remains cost-effective. Most enterprises eventually end up with a hybrid cloud, in which some services are available privately and others are accessed through the public cloud, Bittman says.
Apr 19 2011

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