The cloud market is booming with multiple types of deployments, and the pressure is on technology executives to figure out how cloud services can be best used for their enterprise. Many will prefer a private cloud, which offers a high level of internal control, along with better ease of integration with other applications and customization. Adopting a private cloud also can provide a balance of cost savings, agility and security that has strong appeal to those enterprises demanding greater control.
Some companies fear that implementing a private cloud will introduce a host of complexities. Certainly, new technical skills will be needed. New hardware is likely necessary for purchase. Selecting the proper vendor or platform can be a tough choice. Several prominent vendors offer cloud software and associated implementation services. In an InformationWeek survey of cloud stacks in use for private cloud, VMware, Windows Azure and OpenStack are now the most prominent vendors selected.
Private or open source?
The appearance of OpenStack on the list might surprise some. The biggest reason enterprises select OpenStack is because it is non-proprietary, free from vendor lock-in and offers ease of integration with other systems. With OpenStack, you can provision and operate on your own hardware. In today’s world of global enterprises, IT architects are seeking a solution that meets international standards, allows portability and still supports customization. Developers love it because they can benefit from other like-minded users in addition to contributing back.
OpenStack is backed by many prominent technology companies at the platinum sponsor level: ATT, IBM, Redhat, HP, Unbuntu, Intel, Rackspace and SUSE, with others at the Gold and corporate sponsors. Not since Linux has an open source product had the potential for such significant levels of adoption. The open source community has also worked together in later OpenStack releases to address and mitigate concerns that users had relating to security and regulatory compliance issues.
Vendors such as HP (Helion) and Cisco (Intercloud) also offer a range of commercially supported, managed service options for private cloud. When you consider the many consulting service companies, you can pick your level of support from straightforward software installation and configuration using your own hardware to providing end-to-end hosted private cloud services. These arrangements are especially appealing when one considers the time and expense needed to staff or develop cloud technical skills.
Consumption-based delivery model
No matter what platform you select for your private cloud, effectively managing resources and costs are critical aspects to a successful deployment. As a result of private cloud adoption, enterprises are recognizing the need to move to a consumption-based, supply and demand model. This transition demands IT move to a more service oriented, brokerage relationship with the IT resource user, the lines of business (LOB) and the corporation overall. Self-service provisioning, service catalogs, and unit pricing are all part of the pay-as-you-go service management culture.
When embracing consumption-based management, keeping it simple is not a trite phrase. It is the only way to achieve the results you need without a substantial addition of resources. The first step -- selecting the right services to track and cost -- sets the requirements for your cost model, supply forecasting, and demand discussions.
Unit costs can be married with real-time usage information, presenting superior levels of cost transparency, and based on provable facts and data that can help eliminate billing disagreements about who was using what level of services. A further benefit is the ability for IT and finance groups to now focus on strategic issues rather than reviewing weekly/monthly cost and usage spreadsheets that are often incompatible, lack compliance capabilities, are hard to consolidate and can’t scale.
As your organization matures to more complex hybrid environments, new and innovative ways of managing and governing IT spending become a mandate. Those organizations clinging to traditional cost tracking and allocations processes will find it difficult, if not impossible, to report and defend costs when “who” consumes what resource and at what level that is changing on an hourly basis. The pay-as-you-go model used by most public cloud providers is being adopted for not only cloud operations but for legacy operations in the enterprise.
A final caveat: in seeking a solution to manage your private and public cloud costs, be sure to consider scale as your business grows. Your consumption-based billing model must be able to collect and transform usage data across multiple cloud computing platforms as enterprises begin adopting increasingly complex hybrid IT infrastructures.
In conclusion, you can see there is no single path from a legacy, capex-based architecture to the cloud that offers multiple vendors and services. As noted, one proven way is to transition to a private cloud by employing OpenStack. As your future deployments add a public cloud and ultimately multiple clouds in a hybrid IT model, the key to a successful transition is to maintain visibility and granularity of assets and resources regardless of where they reside in order to manage budget and, ultimately, costs.