5 helpful hints for building effective private clouds

Our resident cloud consultant provides some helpful hints as to how you can be successful with private clouds

So you're thinking of building a private cloud. It seems like the right thing to do, considering that every one of your enterprise software and hardware providers has spun themselves into the space.

However, the path to a truly well-designed private cloud is often misunderstood. There's a lot of misinformation and misdirection these days, so based on my cloud consulting forays, here are five helpful hints on how to do it right.

[ InfoWorld's Matt Prigge explains how he learned to love the private cloud. | Get the no-nonsense explanations and advice you need to take real advantage of cloud computing in InfoWorld editors' 21-page Cloud Computing Deep Dive PDF special report. | Stay up on the cloud with InfoWorld's Cloud Computing Report newsletter. ]

Private cloud hint 1: Define the value. I see many private clouds constructed for no reason other than to put "cloud" on the résumés of the builders. There should be a clearly defined value and ROI around the use of a private cloud. Before the project is funded, insist that the value be understood.

Private cloud hint 2: Understand the use cases and other requirements. Why should you define the purpose for cloud first? After all, many organizations stand up storage or compute clouds, focusin more on the journey than the destination. But the destination matters, so you need to answer a few questions before you can increase your odds of success: What applications will exist in the infrastructure? How will resources be used and by whom? It may seem like common sense to get these answers beforehand, but unfortunately, the practice is rare.

Perhaps you need to concentrate on the use of the private cloud from the point of view of the users. Private clouds serve up resources: compute, storage, or applications services. Thus, it's best to focus on the interfaces into the cloud, including provisioning and service, then back those into the services that should exist and figure out what they should actually do.

Private cloud hint 3: Leverage SOA, even for the most primitive clouds. Even if you're only doing virtualized storage, you need to start with SOA patterns as a way to find the right conceptual and physical architecture. It takes less time than you might think.

Private cloud hint 4: Consider security as systemic. Again, even if your private clouds provide only primitive services, you have to build security into most of the architectural levels and components, including APIs, messaging, management, data at rest, and data in flight. Many people consider private clouds as low security risks, considering that they can go to the data center and hug their walled-off servers. But you're not safe there, either -- trust me.

Private cloud hint 5: Don't view virtualization as a path to private clouds. Virtualization is typically a part of most private cloud computing architectures and technology solutions, but it's not the solution unto itself. I hate to see somebody try to pass off a cluster of virtualized servers as a true private cloud, lacking auto- and self-provisioning or other features that make the use of private clouds valuable.

Those are the hints. Now get to work!

This article, "5 helpful hints for building effective private clouds," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog and track the latest developments in cloud computing at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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