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The discovery phase of private clouds

A year ago, when I brought up private clouds to IT executives, many were flat out not interested.

Flash forward a year, and their stance has changed. Many IT executives are entering boot camps sponsored by systems integrators and cloud providers to find out how a private cloud can help them gain a competitive advantage and efficiencies, as well as save money.

Managed service provider Logicalis Group, for example, offers cloud discovery workshops. “The CIOs that come in are trying to understand the cloud … they are peeling back the onion to understand the options and complexities of private and public clouds,” said Mike Martin, director of cloud computing at Logicalis. “They are at the point of developing strategies around the cloud, and figuring out what aspects of their environment make sense in a private vs. public cloud.”

At Presidio Networked Solutions, a large IT infrastructure service provider, CTO Dave Hart spends a lot of time educating IT execs about the private cloud, aka next-generation virtual data center. Hart is seeing CIOs adopt SaaS and PaaS, but he said there isn’t much pickup of IaaS. “They are trying to figure out how to build a private cloud on their own,” he said, adding that once IT execs figure out what an optimal private cloud looks like and are comfortable operating applications in a private cloud, they will start to think about the pieces they can move off to a public cloud.

But what exactly is a private cloud? I have heard many definitions and concepts. Some public-sector CIOs believe it is a means for like-minded government agencies to share resources in order to develop services for constituents.

Hart defines private clouds as next-generation virtual data centers:

A private cloud is a virtual data center. From a lexicon perspective, a private cloud is what the next-generation data center looks like. It’s a far more efficient use of capital resources in its greenest form. It’s also something that has a very tight orchestration and management model so that I am able to abstract applications from the underlying hardware. [That way] I can provision things more quickly and very dynamically move workloads around, based on the application requirements, without having to have a whole separate project around it, because I’ve finally achieved this concept of utility computing. That’s where the actual infrastructure itself is available to all applications, not just on a one-to-one basis.

Our sister site defines it as:

Private cloud (also called internal cloud or corporate cloud) is a marketing term for a proprietary computing architecture that provides hosted services to a limited number of people behind a firewall.

Advances in virtualization and distributed computing have allowed corporate network and data center administrators to effectively become service providers that meet the needs of their “customers” within the corporation.

Marketing media that uses the words “private cloud” is designed to appeal to an organization that needs or wants more control over their data than they can get by using a third-party hosted service such as Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) or Simple Storage Service (S3).

How would you define a private cloud, and is it reshaping your IT strategy? Let me know at [email protected].

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