While the IT industry, analysts and media continue to do a pretty decent job at outlining, defining and documenting cloud computing and successful early deployments, I thought to contribute to the overall conversation by discussing some of the key elements that we at Platform Computing have identified to be necessary for private clouds, resulting from our own conversations within the industry and with our customers. This will be a two-part blog series that provides some recommendations for companies evaluating internal shared infrastructures by discussing seven key requirements for private clouds and underlying cloud management software.
As we see it, here are the seven key components of a private cloud environment:
- Heterogeneous systems support – The private cloud needs to support an organization’s heterogeneous infrastructure, as well as resources from external providers. This includes server, storage and networking hardware, operating systems, hypervisors, storage systems, and file systems.
- Integration with management tools – Enterprises use a variety of IT management tools for security, provisioning, systems management, directory, reporting, billing, data management, regulation, and compliance. Cloud computing does not replace these tools. Instead, properly designed private cloud management software easily integrates with existing tools and invokes them as needed during cloud operations.
- Configurable resource allocation policies – The cloud must be workload-aware as well as resource-aware. This means that the cloud management software can determine the most efficient placement of application workloads. The cloud management software guarantees resource reservations to its customers based on well-defined policies. And, when demand peaks, the software is able to arbitrate resources based on business priorities of various parts of the cloud workload to cost-effectively meet SLAs.
- Integration with workload managers, middleware and applications – Clouds exist to run applications. In addition to a self-service portal for users to request virtual or physical machines, private cloud management software provides flexible API’s to enable easy integration with the enterprise’s essential workload managers, middleware, and applications.
- Support IT and business processes – Clouds provide support for various IT and business processes and allow IT to automate many of its operations. In fact, cloud management enables the definition and ongoing modifications of many IT management processes that had been performed manually.
- Extensible to external resources – In addition to providing more flexible services with internal resources, the cloud should enable managed access to external resources that are hosted by service providers. This enables more flexible capacity planning where additional resources can be used and paid for only when needed, while centrally controlling access and metering of these services.
- Enterprise, not workgroup, solution – An organization usually consists of multiple departments and locations, often distributed internationally. A flexible cloud scales to meet their diverse needs in real time. While cloud computing may be adopted initially within an individual line of business or location, it enables the integration of IT across the enterprise by reconfiguring rather than replacing the private cloud management software. Therefore, a private cloud can be an enterprise-wide IT services delivery system that provides transparent and consistent access to global resources.
It’s very important for companies to remember that just like other mission-critical enterprise business systems and services, a private cloud is built by the IT organization, not bought from a vendor. Private cloud management software is the key to enabling IT to configure its data center resources, integrating its management tools, and supporting its applications and business processes. You could consider it “the glue” that binds together enterprise data center operations as organizations move into the era of cloud computing.
Stay tuned for the second part of this blog series that will showcase how Platform ISF meets all seven requirements of private cloud management discussed in this blog.