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Creating a private cloud with minimal issues

If you consider security, performance, scalability, expertise, network visibility and service management when creating a private cloud, you avoid problems down the road.

Organizations creating a private cloud must contend with a multitude of issues, including security, performance,...

scalability, staff expertise, visibility and service management.

Address security concerns

Security is one of the biggest concerns facing private cloud adopters. Security is a complex issue, and it demands a strong understanding of the ever-changing threat landscape. Implementing properly deployed security tools necessitates well-developed security policies and properly deployed tools.

Many individual organizations creating a private cloud struggle with security due to a lack of tools and the expertise needed to use them. Moving from a traditional data center to a private cloud brings new automation, self-service and other features that most organizations and IT staff are ill-equipped to handle. It's easy to make mistakes that open security vulnerabilities that could jeopardize the business.

Security problems are even more pronounced as the business attempts to create hybrid clouds. Shifting data and workloads will create challenges in handing off security tasks between public and private entities, potentially creating new vulnerabilities to address.

Achieve optimum performance

A private cloud should provide complete control over the infrastructure. Although this kind of insight and control should ideally enable the best performance for workloads, there's absolutely no guarantee that a private cloud will provide better performance than a public cloud.

Similarly, there's no guarantee that a private cloud will be any more immune to failures or outages than a public cloud. Organizations that adopt a private cloud will need to design a resilient, high-availability infrastructure and deploy critical backup/recovery frameworks to preserve private cloud availability.

Private cloud insights

Know when to go with a private cloud over a public cloud, learn about various paid and open source platforms, and decide when it's right to transition from a private cloud to a hybrid cloud.

It's also important to implement performance monitoring and reporting tools that can objectively measure key performance indicators, help spot performance bottlenecks in the private cloud infrastructure and quickly alert IT staff to remediate performance problems when they arise. The goal is to prevent private cloud users from being affected by performance problems and outages.

Consider scalability needs

A central benefit of cloud computing is scalability -- the ability to add more compute, storage and network resources to workloads that demand it. Although scalability is also part of the private cloud, there are scalability concerns that private cloud owners must consider. For example, public cloud providers deal with economies of scale as part of their business, but private cloud owners typically don't.

Many private clouds simply won't have the resources -- or budget -- available to accommodate unexpectedly high storage or compute usage.

In actual practice, the capital invested in creating a private cloud will be limited. This means the sheer volume of available resources will also be relatively limited. Private cloud adopters will need to consider the impact of workload usage changes, particularly if usage vastly exceeds planned levels. Many private clouds simply won't have the resources -- or budget -- available to accommodate unexpectedly high storage or compute usage. These situations might necessitate the adoption of hybrid clouds to leverage the greater scalability of public clouds for workloads with unexpectedly high usage levels.

Gain the necessary expertise

Many organizations underestimate the role of expertise in private cloud deployment -- especially when attempting to use powerful open source frameworks such as OpenStack. Successful private cloud projects require an IT staff that is well-versed in the related platform and that is able to deploy, configure and manage the platform. This might require a prolonged period of training and experimentation before attempting to roll out a private cloud offering to production.

In other cases, additional IT staff might need to be hired specifically to handle the private cloud deployment.

Maintain network visibility

Network visibility can be another problem organizations encounter when creating a private cloud. Most public clouds limit the visibility into network traffic, but even private clouds can suffer from limited visibility of traffic flowing between VMs on the same servers -- dubbed east-west traffic. Private cloud adopters will need to implement a new level of traffic monitoring, analysis and reporting tools capable of watching traffic between VMs, as well as the traditional traffic exchanged between servers and other network devices.

Offer important services

Finally, private clouds can be constrained by the variety and capability of available cloud services. Public clouds, like Amazon Web Services, offer an extensive menu of services that users can employ, such as auto-scaling and high availability. But these services are created and managed by the public cloud provider.

To utilize such services on a private cloud, the private cloud owner must create those services and make them available to private cloud users. The challenge is the investment of time and money needed to create those services.

In most cases, a private cloud will simply not be able to replicate the full suite of offerings found in public clouds. Many private cloud owners will roll out a small suite of important services initially, and then add services over time as budgets and business needs dictate.

This was last published in January 2018

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