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A Private Cloud Is Called IT

The title of this blog comes from a sentence penned by Steve Duplessie in Why the Cloud will Vaporize, and it's a sentence that really speaks to me. Duplessie writes an evocative article about the cloud market, but he made a few points on the benefits of cloud services and then wrote that little nugget, which I want to expand on. Whether you call it private cloud or a data center, the automation technologies and processes that are being developed for cloud services will trickle down into your data center and that's good for everyone.

I can't ever talk about cloud without first defining the term. I am using private cloud to mean a cloud-like service that is wholly hosted in your data center on your gear. Cloud means automated, scalable, flexible computing, networking and storage services that are largely virtualized. In effect, a private Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS).  If you call me out on my definition, I am simply going to refer you to this paragraph. (ha-ha)

Alright. I don't think that hosting a private cloud is going to net you the same economic advantages (if there are, in fact, any) that outsourcing to an IaaS cloud provider will have, because your company still has to make the capital and operational investments to build out and manage your private cloud. But what it is going to get you is an IaaS and the ability to unshackle your applications from hardware. I can't imagine there are too many servers that can't be virtualized, even if the hypervisor only runs one virtual machine.

Just virtualizing servers lets you move machines from server to server as needed with minimal, if any, down time. Since they are just files, you can take snapshots of existing systems to quickly restore if a server fails, a patch goes awry, or any other catastrophe occurs. The first time you can bring a downed server back to live in the time it takes to boot a computer, you'll be sold. Functions like live migrations are just the icing on the cake, but those are just part of the benefits of an internal cloud. The real benefit comes from automation.

I remember the days of having to make configuration changes and all the devices I had to login to for moves, adds, changes and deletes. It took forever and was error prone. Worse if I had to go pull cables. I longed for an automated system where I could, in a few clicks of a mouse, do the moves, adds, changes and deletes though a command and control console. I got pretty close with VMware and Symantec Altiris, but I never quite got all the way to a big red button. I needed to do a few things first:

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