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The Essential Elements of a Private Cloud

For those just starting on the private cloud journey, it might be useful to get the lay of the land

Not long ago, Forrester analyst James Staten wrote a report with the compelling title: You're Not Ready for Internal Cloud. What Staten meant, of course, by the term "internal cloud" is what we have been referring to in this blog as a private cloud. Whether you're ready or not probably depends a lot on where you are on the project path.

For those just starting on the private cloud journey, it might be useful to get the lay of the land and discuss the essential elements of any private cloud project, and point out areas where my definition diverges from Staten's, as a recognized expert on the subject and someone whose opinion I greatly respect.

A Set of Consistent Services
Staten's first rule is that you need a set of consistent services that your users can access and use with a limited amount of friction.

Staten says beyond this consistent deliverable, the service shouldn't require any custom configuration. The user basically gets that standard service offering and that's it. Think Henry Ford's famous quote about the Model T: "You can have it any color you like, so long as it's black." But as Staten states in his report, "...the capability delivered is repeated, religiously. That's the foundation for how cloud computing achieves mass scalability and differentiated economics."

He's right, of course, but what he doesn't mention is that you need a service catalogue of standardized IT components to make all of this work to make it all possible. When you create that, it makes the self-service portal Staten discusses possible.

The problem is that standardization is harder than it looks. Organizations have been trying to do this for a long time. The challenge is having a framework that's manageable and works yet is flexible enough to work for your business when it doesn't match the standard offerings.

Usage-based Metering
Another essential pillar of the private cloud is the notion of usage-based metering, or the idea that you pay only for what you use and no more.

This model should appeal to everyone. Managers know what they are getting, and IT can easily determine capital expenditure budgets by tracking usage across the organization. As Staten explains in the report: "Nearly all cloud services leverage this model to provide cost elasticity as your consumption changes."

This is one of the key elements of the private cloud - this ability to meter and measure usage across the organization.

Self-Service and Fast
The final piece of Staten's cloud computing puzzle is self-service. This means you set up a web portal where users can access your services using standard internet protocols. He says it needs to be almost always on and users need to be able to get up and running quickly.

One key piece I see missing from Staten's essential elements is a system to measure what we mean by successful - what you would call a service-level agreement if you were contracting with a public cloud. How do you measure success? What is your up time guarantee and so forth?

We see this is as an essential covenant between IT and the company, which spells out exactly what users should expect in terms of service levels from the company's private cloud.

With an understanding of these basic elements of a private cloud project, you are better prepared to begin to understand what you need to do to achieve your organization's cloud computing goals.

More Stories By Benjamin Grubin

Benjamin Grubin is a 15-year veteran of the technology industry with experience in security, software engineering, marketing, consulting and management. He is the Director of Product Management & Marketing for Cloud Technology Partners, overseeing products that accelerate cloud development and migration. Mr. Grubin has worked with Fortune 100 companies to modernize their infrastructure and support next-generation management and security technologies. He is also a frequent presenter at conferences, seminars and panels on topics including cloud computing, IT service management, virtualization, and IT security.

Mr. Grubin holds an MBA from Harvard Business School as well as both a Master of Science in Computer Science and Bachelor of Science in Economics and Computer Science from Tufts University. Follow Ben on Twitter at @bgrubin.

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