Private Cloud Perspectives for Small and Mid-Market

Article by Karan Kirpalani

Is it prohibitively expensive for small and mid-market organizations to adopt private cloud? Interpretation of private clouds and what it means for small and mid-sized organizations.

When it comes to private cloud implementations in the enterprise space, the interpretation itself is the biggest issue. According to reports done by leading analyst firms on enterprise technologies global private cloud adoption figures claim to be over 30% - but in most cases key features of private cloud such as metered usage, multi-tenancy, etc. are missing.

Virtualization often gets confused with private cloud. The fact is that virtualization is only a component of cloud - Private or Public.

Debunking the Myths: Virtualization Vs. Private Clouds

The intent of virtualization is to increase utilization of many servers for a particular workload. Virtualization solution is implemented to provision infrastructure faster and consolidate servers – done by using a hypervisor and set of management tools.The management software provisions Virtual Machines (VMs) where OSes can be installed and workloads can be run – and depending on the workload that has to be run, compute, storage, network access needed are provisioned accordingly.

Private Cloud is a totally different scenario although virtualization forms the basis of all cloud build-out. The key five characteristics of a private cloud are:

  1. On-demand Self-service
  2. Broad Network access
  3. Resource Pooling
  4. Rapid Elasticity
  5. Measured or Metered Usage
Private Cloud Virtualization
On-demand Self-service Self service portal with service catalog and automated provisioning Manual Provisioning of VMs for internal users
Broad Network access Service accessible via internet or local network Available for users on the network
Resource Pooling Resource sharing (compute, storage, network) from underlying hardware through virtualization Yes
Rapid Elasticity Dynamically increase or decrease IT resources provisioned Manual provisioning of VMs and installation of OS and apps manual – does not scale fast
Measured or Metered Usage Monitoring and reporting service usage for chargeback on actuals Charge back on traditional budgeting methods – not on actual usage

Cloud should be viewed as API through which you can control capacity and provisioning of resources, such that you can automatically move workloads. Private cloud gives the ability for rapid turnaround without having to put in capital budget for new servers and ability to turn on and off services (read servers in this case).

The essence of private cloud is when there is a self service layer added on top of virtualization for branches/departments (On-demand Self-service) that can access services over a local network or a virtual private network (VPN) over the Internet or a web-based interface (Broad Network Access).The users depending on access can provision IT resources quickly and turn the same off also as fast (Rapid Elasticity) with little help from the IT department and without having to go through the process of raising a capital expenditure for the resource. IT department can meter actual usage for each of the service or provisioned resource by the branch or department and charge back on an actual usage basis (Metered Usage/ Measured Service).

What does it mean for small and mid-market companies?

Proprietary hypervisors and management tools that are needed to build-out a private cloud is still expensive for organizations with limited budget – such as small and mid –sized organizations. What is even more daunting for these organizations is the need for fresh skilled hires to implement and manage – another limitation for small and mid –sized companies.

No, this is not the end of the tunnel here – other than high-cost, commercial private cloud implementers, there are a bunch of low-cost, open source platforms that are more suited to the budget-strapped organizations.

Providers of hosting and managed services, and cloud service providers such as Netmagic can help assess and identify the size and shape that fits these organizations. They can help deploy cost efficient solution for their private cloud needs – without having to negotiate the key features of a true private cloud.