Are You Ready for a Private Cloud?

Power Button for the CloudOrganizations looking to build a private cloud for their use point to flexibility, speed and fiscal advantages as primary reasons for going in that direction. However, the reality may be public clouds are more realistic at this point in terms of achieving those goals.

That’s the consensus of a report at It adds, “The definition of enterprise private cloud currently exists on a continuum. This lack of commonly defined ground is proving to be a bit of a stumbling block to achieving the velocity and dexterity promised by private cloud vendors inside traditional IT settings.”

Aneel Lakhani, research director for virtualization and cloud at Gartner, an American information technology research and advisory firm, was interviewed in the article. He says, “There is zero consensus on what enterprise IT considers private cloud to be. Installations labeled ‘private cloud’ now range from data centers having several virtualized machines, to having some very basic ability to automate processes, to possibly having some self-service components.”

One major consideration before converting to a private cloud should be if it can serve all of your needs. reports, “Despite all the hype, private cloud hasn’t meaningfully made its way into the data center because the options are limited,” said Bryan Cantrill, chief technology officer of Joyent, a cloud computing infrastructure and big data analytics company. “Operators have to choose between a kit cloud that requires the team to spend months researching every decision before they see a result, or legacy enterprise software that views ‘cloud’ as a mere re-branding opportunity.”

Organizations may be using private clouds (the article says it is anywhere from 7 to 13 percent) but they are only being used to about 30 percent capacity. “Objectively speaking,” the article states, “analysts, vendors pushing private clouds, and practitioners hired to implement private clouds say there are up to four basic tenets that must be in operation for an enterprise IT department to fully take advantage of a private cloud.”

The four steps are:

  1. There must be a converged infrastructure. This must be achieved with the goal of factoring in disaster recovery, replication and the removal of single point of failure. The latter private clouds can achieve by existing across multiple data centers, according to Josh McKenty, CTO and founder of OpenStack-based private cloud provider Piston Cloud Computing, who is quoted in the article.
  2. There has to be fully automated orchestration of both system management and software distribution across the converged infrastructure. Cost savings will be realized when the human factor of private cloud maintenance is minimized, experts interviewed for the article said. This will speed up response time from days (and even weeks in some instances) down to 15 minutes. “If it takes you two weeks to provision resources now, getting that down to two days is not going to cut it. You’ve got to get it to 15 minutes. You can’t be sitting around waiting for various levels of approval to happen because you lose the agility and speed. It’s the difference between virtualization and cloud,” says Lauren Nelson, private infrastructure as a service (IaaS) cloud lead at Forrester.
  3. There must be a self-service catalog of standard computing offerings available to users across the company. Basically, this means the cloud can’t just be the purview of the IT department. Workers across an organization need to have appropriate access to its features.
  4. There has to be accountability by way of some sort of charge-back, track-back or show-back mechanism that keeps track of which users are employing which resources and for just how long. Under this way of thinking, departments using private clouds within a company would pre-pay for their services. That helps prevent departments from hogging virtual space indefinitely and makes them more disciplined in their cloud habits.
Keith Griffin
Keith Griffin is an award-winning business writer and editor with more than 30 years experience as a journalist. His work has been published in The Boston Globe, Medical Economist, Good Housekeeping,, the Hartford Courant, CT Law Tribune and numerous other regional publications.