When done right, private cloud can confer substantial benefits on infrastructure and operations teams as well as end users. Increased resource sharing, standardization of hardware and software and virtualization all help drive down costs for IT organizations, while users attain on-demand access to resources and the flexibility to scale their utilization as requirements change. Private cloud can also enable a DevOps culture that fosters innovation, and extend the useful life of older IT assets.
Nevertheless, private cloud has its fair share of pitfalls and risks. For starters, IT teams can focus on the wrong motivations for moving to cloud models. For example, in many cases cloud is prioritized because it is seen first and foremost as a way to cut IT costs. This approach is out of step with primarily agility oriented reasons that cloud interests end-users. As a result, private clouds can easily become siloed and treated as an internal IT project, which is an ironic twist considering the cloud's clear advantages for serving different user groups across the whole organization.
What else can go wrong with the private cloud?
The prevalence of such challenges shouldn't be surprising. After all, shifting to a private cloud usually requires an IT organization to adopt a completely different perspective on its role in the broader organization, shifting to an IT as a service (ITaaS) business model, rather than as the gatekeeper between users and costly infrastructure. On a technical level, the elastic resources and rapid provisioning expected of any so-called cloud represent a big break with the protracted procurement and approval processes of traditional IT ways of being. Inability to adjust on both the organizational and technical level can compromise many private cloud transitions early on.
"Focusing on savings above all else can hold back a private cloud."
"Moving to the cloud is a massive change in mindset for IT, especially if it's coupled with a shift away from legacy systems and software," Jim O'Reilly of Voltano recently told TechTarget. "The move from careful planning followed by rigid implementation that is the norm for legacy is a long way from the standardization and app free-for-all that occurs in the cloud. Change cycles in the cloud are tremendously compressed and that's the flip side of agility."
Beyond this fundamental cultural hurdle, there is a whole host of other similar issues that can arise from unrealistic expectations for and misconceptions about what the private cloud should do. A Gartner poll of 140 attendees of its Datacenter Conference in Las Vegas last December, for example, found that 95 percent of them had at least one problem with their private clouds, with "failure to change the operational model" and "doing too little" as the two most cited concerns:
Moreover, it is possible to over-optimize a private cloud to IT concerns so that it ends up being optimized for nothing, effectively protecting infrastructure and operations teams while failing to make the organization as a whole more adaptive and agile.
Using a cloud platform to successfully transition to a private cloud
Given the massive coverage and mind share devoted to cloud right now, organizations can run into trouble by hastily trying to migrate from legacy to virtual and cloud infrastructure, only to discover that the transition is far from straightforward. Legacy infrastructure is the reality on the ground and cannot be discarded overnight.
Cloud management platforms make the move more feasible. A solution like QualiSystems CloudShell is built on an object-based architecture that is equally capable of automating legacy, physical, virtual, cloud and converged infrastructure. Organizations can enable DevOps innovation and eliminate the silos that hold back agility.
The takeaway: Private cloud is a transformational undertaking for many organizations, full of risks that run the gamut from cultural/procedural issues to technological setbacks. At the same time, the rewards for implementing an efficient private cloud can make the effort worthwhile. A cloud platform can be the key to streamlining the private cloud transition.