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How do you know if your business needs to build a private cloud?

Cloud computing is a hot topic these days, but it's not right for everyone. Our experts weigh in on when it makes sense to build a private cloud.

There's no doubt that private clouds have been hyped up in recent years. Vendors are churning out cloud management software and analysts are touting the seemly endless advantages to creating a private cloud. Unless your business is headquartered under a rock, you've likely at least heard talk of a private cloud. But how do you know if your business really needs one? What type of organization can really benefit from a private cloud and when does it make financial sense? This month, our Advisory Board members explain the prime circumstances for building a private cloud.

Jack Kaiser, Focus Technology Solutions

That is a great question. There is lots of confusion and misinformation in the IT community surrounding private clouds. You must first know what a private cloud is before you can determine if you need one. Lots of people think if they are 100% virtualized (or close to it) that they have a private cloud. That may be, but is not necessarily, true. All private clouds are built upon virtualization, but much more is needed to have a true private cloud, including:

  • An elastic computing environment,
  • On-demand self-service,
  • Shared (multi-tenant) resource pools,
  • Network delivered services and
  • Service measurements or chargeback capabilities.
Should you create a private cloud just because your boss heard a lot of buzz from a seminar he went to? That is not a good enough reason, and we all know how it will end.
Maish Saidel-KeesingNDS Group Ltd.

Assuming you know what a private cloud is, do you need one? In most cases, whether or not you decide to build a private cloud depends on the level of complexity and sophistication of the IT staff as well as the end users. In most small businesses, the IT staff (or person) wears many hats and there is little need for self-provisioning, automation and the additional costs of a true private cloud. However, in large enterprises, where there are business owners who are more IT savvy, the benefits of the private cloud would outweigh the costs. End users would appreciate the self-provisioning and the fact that it would enable their apps to be operational more quickly than if they had to going through the process, procedure and burden of requisitioning from traditional IT. One of the best benefits of building a private cloud is that end users would have to adhere to the policies and security requirements set up by the corporate IT staff as opposed to rogue business owners tending their own public cloud farms with little or no observance to corporate security and IT policies.

The challenging question is, what about the mid-market segment? Then again, how many employees classify a company as mid-market? Regardless of your definition of the term, the answer to whether they benefit from a private cloud is the same as for large companies. If the end users require, demand and have the ability to perform some IT functions, then it may be beneficial to build a private cloud. As the new generation of employees enters the workforce -- employees who were raised on downloading their own app from iTunes and have more technological ability -- more and more small and medium-sized businesses will be ready for a private cloud.

Maish Saidel-Keesing, NDS Group Ltd.

To answer this question, perhaps it could be asked in a different way: What are the reasons that should not influence your decision to build a private cloud?

Should you build a private cloud just because your boss heard a lot of buzz from a seminar he went to? That is not a good enough reason, and we all know how it will end. Should you build one just because your users are asking for one, or because they can get the same on Amazon? This is not a good reason either. How about just because you want to try out the latest and greatest technology? New technology is nice to play around with but still doesn't carry enough weight.

How do you know if you will need to build a private cloud? You already do. Get started.
Jason HelmickConcentrated Technologies

There is no one-size-fits-all template for deploying a private cloud. That said, the size of your organization should not be a limiting factor. A private cloud can be very beneficial even to a small company.

However, you need to find the right business justification. You need to find the specific use case or pain point where it can save you money, time and manual labor. The specific use will be different for each company, but when you can prove that the return on investment (ROI) exists, and can be achieved in a reasonable timeframe by deploying your own cloud, then it will be worthwhile.

Jason Helmick, Concentrated Technologies

In my house I set the thermostat to a comfortable temperature range. When it gets too cold, the heater turns on; when it gets too hot, the air conditioning starts. I never need to call the power company and ask them to start the boilers or bring over some ice -- it just happens.

IT needs to become a utility (like the power company) that supplies a reliable service through automation. This is the purpose of the cloud. When the business needs more servers to handle an increase in load, it just happens. When the business needs a new product deployed, it just happens. The business can’t wait for the IT pro to start the boilers and bring over the ice.

Large companies have already been doing this and are enjoying the ROI and time-to-market flexibility gained, and smaller companies will soon follow along. Virtualization is a great way to make this a reality at your company. Its cost-effective and excellent tools from Microsoft and VMware already exist to make it the private cloud a reality.

How do you know if you will need to build a private cloud? You already do. Get started.

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