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Interop Preview: Expert Advice On Building Private Cloud

The private cloud computing model isn't a slapped together virtualization environment, with a few management bells and whistles thrown in on top. Instead, it's a standardized set of pooled data center resources that allow end users to self-provision virtual servers, which run in a highly automated fashion.

If you don't plan for such an architecture, you won't get to real cloud computing, warns Dave Roberts, a frequent writer on the private cloud topic as co-founder of LeverHawk, a blogging site he shares with Scott Bils, discussing wide ranging cloud issues. Roberts is also a senior director of solutions marketing at BMC in Houston, Texas.

On May 7, he will be the lead instructor at the Private Cloud workshop of the Enterprise Cloud Summit at this year's Interop Las Vegas. Roberts will tap other experts to join him in panels and sessions during the daylong workshop, part of the Cloud Computing and Big Data track.

Last year, the topic might have been "Public cloud vs. private cloud," but this year, "people have put that debate behind them. Every enterprise customer I know is building out private clouds," said Roberts in a recent interview.

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But that still leaves many unanswered questions of how to do it. Roberts hopes to provide his workshop attendees with enough information to allow people to walk away with a framework for which they mainly have to fill in the blanks. No one can dictate the precise steps you need to take to get to private cloud, he adds. The first order of business for attendees will be to return to their organizations and talk to other stakeholders who can help define the cloud services needed and help the IT manager get there.

It's generally assumed that IT builds the private the cloud, but that doesn't have to be the case. There are specialists in some consulting firms, such as CloudOps, CloudScaling or Mirantis, focused on building OpenStack clouds, who have already implemented private clouds in many settings and can bring the benefit of that experience to a customer.

There's also a question of where to build it. While it's generally assumed the private cloud will take over part of the enterprise data center, that also doesn't have to be the case, Roberts said. A company like Rackspace, Terremark or Savvis will help you establish a private cloud in their cloud data centers, or a data center operator, such as Equinix, can provide both data center space and expertise on making the networking connections your cloud will need. Any co-location provider is a potential private cloud site.

These outside providers will have expertise in building a general purpose architecture that helps you avoid lock-in by any single cloud service or software provider. They know how to set up a private cloud that works generically to connect to public services through their public APIs. BMC offers the Cloud Lifecycle Management platform that connects natively to 16 clouds and leaves customers in a position to connect to additional service providers through the provider's APIs.

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