Three Myths Around Private Clouds
Article by Karan Kirpalani
- Filed under:
- Cloud Computing
As private clouds proliferate enterprise IT landscape, there are some common challenges and myths that need to be addressed. Mandar Kulkarni of Netmagic Solutions debunks some common myths around private clouds
Businesses are moving towards private clouds to avoid sharing of resources, and take advantage of dedicated infrastructure that is secure, scalable, redundant, cost optimized and operationally efficient.
Private cloud resides within the data center of the organization or at a third party facility and allows complete control of IT resources, automates workflows by eliminating manual intervention for shifting workloads, provisioning compute, storage and other IT resources, etc.
Unfortunately, many IT professionals think that moving from a virtualized Data Center to a private cloud environment is a simple task involving a few management software and automation. It is necessary to debunk this myth and throw light on general misconceptions about moving to a private cloud environment.
Automating Virtual Machinesfor cloud is a Simple Task
More and more organizations are taking the private cloud route after toying around with advanced virtualization for a while, so that they can provision VMs without having a team of people to do it.
There is a stark difference in creating, provisioning and managing VMs between virtualized environment and cloud.
In a virtual infrastructure, VM templates are created with standardized hardware and software settings that will include base OS, service packs and other patches. Full-blown applications and services into VM templates to control degradation of performance.
In a cloud environment the idea is to make the provisioning and management of VMs a user-driven process. The goal is to allow end users to create new applications and services on-demand. Users will have to be given a complete application and service catalogue; VM templates loaded with applications and services.
The challenge here is to have the VMs tested and verified well, put in place required controls to ensure that VM sprawl does not happen. A tiered approach by creating classes of VMs where IT managers have pre-defined various hardware and software configurations including various applications and services can help in controlling performance and optimal usage. One can also set chargeback or showback policies to various departments within the organizations so that users are aware of their resource utilization.
Create separate environments for Development, UAT (User Acceptance Testing) and Production. Start with development and UAT and then move production to the cloud environment. It is also important to put an expiry on provisioning of VMs so as to control VM sprawl.
Provisioning storage for private cloud is easy
Making storage working in tandem with private cloud infrastructure has some challenges associated with it. First of it stems from the difference in the evolution of both virtualization and storage technologies.
Typically in a virtualized infrastructure environment working with a storage area network (SAN) will have direct access to set up and manage storage zones or pools. Whereas in a cloud environment, the virtual server acts as a single image with processing (CPU), RAM, storage (working as direct attached storage) and applications and services embedded as a single unit. Individual server along with a SAN device works very differently from this. To make things even more complicated, there are equal chances that the storage within this environment is also virtualized.
It is important to clearly identify the various ways in which the infrastructure and storage interact. Linking a two virtualized resources into an infrastructure agnostic platform is not going to be as simple as it sounds.
In traditional virtual environments access to storage was stringently controlled through technology as well as process of access approvals. In a cloud environment users can provision storage on-demand easily which leads to a new challenge – how to manage storage utilization.
While the actual management and policy for cloud-enabling storage is challenging, it also is a boon in disguise. Cloud managers can make provisioning and use of storage easy alongside reinforcing the importance of optimized utilization through chargeback or showback policies.
Configuring Network is Simple
How will bandwidth allocation work in a cloud-ready network? This is a key question.
In a managed virtual environment where the network administrator did the management of bandwidth, the cloud infrastructure will create new challenges. As users set up VMs and create massive loads, there is a high risk of network congestion, which end up choking the bandwidth.
In a private cloud environment, most processing happens at the data center; unlike at both client and server sides in a client-server environment. This means continuous communication between data center and the users, which can quickly turn into a bandwidth allocation nightmare.
It is important here to identify and segregate resource hungry users, have fair-usage-policies in place, create backup bandwidth to accommodate increase in loads, etc. In a private cloud environment you are offering more services and empowering the users to do more with the infrastructure, which will have huge impact on the network traffic, and understanding, identifying, taking corrective actions are some starting steps. Upgrading the network bandwidth and allocation policies is almost a necessity.
Traditional virtualization environment was provisioned with virtual switches that connected to the VMs. Most virtualized environments are done with static model for assigning of ports to VMs. Here is the next challenge. In a cloud environment the number of ports can quickly run out in numbers. There will have to be a dynamic way of assigning ports and destroying them as and when they are needed or otherwise.
Although cloud providers tout ease of private cloud implementation, what IT leaders have to understand is the readiness of the existing setup. No doubt the benefits of a cloud environment are unbeatable and unquestionable, it is important to have a partner with proven experience to help and migrate to private cloud.
Are you ready to evaluate private clouds? Are you in the process of migrating to a private cloud? It would be interesting and insightful to hear your experiences and share insights. Do write in.