The enterprise has been getting a lot of conflicting information when it comes to the cloud. More often than not, the kind of cloud that fits the bill is exactly what the provider has to offer.
But since the cloud is more about the workload it is intended to support than the technology or architecture it sits upon, every type of cloud will provide nominal, middling or optimal functionality depending on its use case.
A case in point is the private cloud, which has gotten its fair share of bad press for not being as scalable, cost-effective or simple to build and manage as the public cloud. And yet, as Tesora CEO Ken Rugg noted on DZone recently, building cloud architectures on your own infrastructure offers unique advantages nonetheless. For one thing, it is difficult to move large amounts of data from in-house resources to the cloud, so if you want to keep processing close to data and still reap the benefits of a flexible architecture, then the private cloud is the best way to go. At the same time, your private cloud can be built around the specific security, governance and compliance requirements of your workloads, rather than the more generic approaches found on public resources.
The private cloud can also serve as an effective launch pad into more distributed architectures, says HPE’s Stephen Spector. With a private cloud, you can experiment to a wide extent without compromising sensitive applications. At the same time, you can get used to scaling resources up and down to match workloads and ease business units into the new world of dev/ops and application testing. Best of all, you can provide these capabilities without the risk of users going rogue and spinning up their own data environments on who knows what infrastructure, and you can set the terms when it comes to storage and data access.
This is all well and good, but is it really worth the time and expense of setting up and managing your own cloud when there are perfectly good public resources ready and waiting? Again, it will depend largely on the workload, but the fact is that building private clouds is nowhere near as complicated as it used to be. Emerging solutions like Platform9 offer easily deployable OpenStack-based cloud infrastructures that integrate with virtually all legacy systems in the data center. Platform9 is available as a SaaS-based managed service that features full self-installation and is capable of sharing workloads across vSphere clusters and OpenStack environments. And the company is already taking steps to incorporate Docker containers as well.
Another interesting approach is ZeroStack, which bills itself as a “zero touch” deployment solution by virtue of its automated set-up architecture that places private clouds on top of bare metal within minutes. The system features a resilient, distributed design that takes on virtually all day-to-day management responsibilities and enables single-click application deployment from a template-driven catalog. At the same time, it offers a full suite of analytics tools for troubleshooting and capacity planning. ZeroStack is offered in a variety of modular configurations ranging from 64 to 128 cores and up to 19.2 TB of solid state storage.
At the risk of sounding redundant, I’ll say again that the private cloud is not the answer to all your computing needs. And in fact, many organizations will likely find it both convenient and highly cost-effective to push all workloads onto public infrastructure. But for those who need to keep vital functions close to home, a private cloud can provide optimal performance and ease of management with low overhead and very low hardware requirements, depending on required scale.
And if some know-it-all sniffs that you don’t have a “real” cloud, just tell them that’s OK. You don’t need one.
Arthur Cole writes about infrastructure for IT Business Edge. Cole has been covering the high-tech media and computing industries for more than 20 years, having served as editor of TV Technology, Video Technology News, Internet News and Multimedia Weekly. His contributions have appeared in Communications Today and Enterprise Networking Planet and as web content for numerous high-tech clients like TwinStrata and Carpathia. Follow Art on Twitter @acole602.