Why you're not ready to create a private cloud

Despite IT's bravado, most don't have the skills or understanding to properly handle the task of building a private cloud

According to James Staten at Forrester Research, those of you looking to implement private clouds may be lacking the skills required to succeed.

While many IT pros are hot on cloud computing -- Staten notes that the common attitude is "I'll bring these technologies in-house and deliver a private solution, an internal cloud" -- they don't grasp an underlying truth of cloud computing. As Staten puts it: "Cloud solutions aren't a thing, they're a how, and most enterprise I&O shops lack the experience and maturity to manage such an environment."

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I'm reaching the same conclusion. While private clouds seem like mounds of virtualized servers to many in IT, true private clouds are architecturally and operationally complex, and they require that the people behind the design and cloud creation know what they are doing. Unfortunately, few do these days.

Private clouds are not traditional architecture, nor are they virtualized servers. I say that many times a day, but I suspect that many IT organizations will still dive in under false assumptions. Private clouds have to include such architectural components as auto-provisioning, identity-based security, governance, use-based accounting, and multitenancy -- concepts that are much less understood than they need to be.

At the core of this problem is the fact that we're hype-rich and architect-poor. IT pros who understand the core concepts behind SOA, private cloud architecture, governance, and security -- and the enabling technology they require -- are few and far between, and they clearly are not walking the halls of rank-and-file enterprises and government agencies. I can count the ones I know personally on a single hand.

What can you do to get ready? The most common advice is to hire people who know what they're doing and have the experience required to get it right the first time. Make sure to encourage prototyping and testing, learning all you can from that process. Focus on projects with the best chances of success, initially. This means not trying to port legacy systems to private clouds on the initial attempt, but instead focusing on new automation.

This article, "Why you're not ready to create a private cloud," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog and follow the latest developments in cloud computing at InfoWorld.com.

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