06-30-10 | Blog Post
A private cloud computing platform is a stack of network, server and storage hardware dedicated to you for the purpose of cloud computing. With a managed cloud computing service, the stack of hardware becomes a customizable cloud of computing and storage resources for you to configure as you wish.
Why is this ability to configure your resources so valuable? Or more pertinent, what is the benefit of a private cloud service? Why use one? Here’s why.
With a typical dedicated server stack (outsourced or managed by you), you select your server, storage and networking needs, purchase them and live with that configuration for 3 to 5 years. You might add memory, which isn’t too difficult. You might need to upgrade disk drives, which proves more difficult. Or you might need to upgrade CPU’s which is really difficult and expensive because you basically have to change the entire server.
When speaking to finance professionals, I’ve used the following analogy to describe the benefit of a private cloud.
Imagine you were responsible for bus transportation in a metropolitan area and were getting ready to order new buses that your community would need to live with for the next 7 years. Buses are available in 20, 30, or 50 seat configurations. You need 1,000-1,100 total seats to accommodate your population and the routes you’ve designed to service their needs. Each line is designed to maximize the use of a 20 or 50 seat bus. So, you guess and buy twenty, 20-seat buses, and twelve, 50 seat buses, and then hope it’s efficient for the next 7 years.
Interesting puzzle huh? Even if done really well, at the end of the day there’s still tons of room for inefficiencies and wasted resources.
Instead of being forced to live with the same resource configuration for several years, imagine you could purchase a “cloud with 1,000 bus seats” and re-configure those seats at will into whatever size buses you want, at any point in time. Buses could be as small as a single seat or you could have one bus with 1,000 seats. Got a convention? Make 4 x 200 seat buses between hotels and the conference center. The flexibility is really powerful and valuable. Why? Because with the increased flexibility you can have more seats being used at any one time, thus requiring significantly fewer seats while providing a better experience.
That could be called “cloud transportation”, and it would be every Transportation Officials dream. Now think of each bus as a server and you have “private cloud computing” – every IT-finance manager’s dream come true.
An Important New Requirement
We just saw the power of the flexibility provided by a Private Cloud. Unfortunately it introduces a level of complexity that wasn’t there before. What unique abilities do you need to make sure exist to really gain the benefit of a Private Cloud?
Continuing with the transportation analogy… you now have this new on-demand flexibility for your buses. All you need now is a staff of people monitoring the traffic flow and re-designing the buses with more/less seats based on demand and utilization. They would work feverishly to reduce the wait and route times for anyone wanting a seat on any bus. The flexibility is powerful but to get the most out of it you need fairly sophisticated and complex (i.e. expensive) abilities to dynamically change your configurations to get the full benefit of the flexibility.
In the computing world, what you need to do is watch the server, storage and network resources and when one appears to be causing a bottleneck, provide it more resources. You also have to remember to reduce the number of resources allocated to a server that doesn’t need it or it sits idle, unavailable for another server that might demand it. This resource allocation process is powerful, but not inexpensive.
That’s where you need to pay attention when designing your private cloud. You need it to automatically change the cloud configuration in real-time so resources are where they need to be when they need to be there! It needs to turn cloud servers off that aren’t being used and turn them back on again when they are needed – all in the blink of an eye and all automatically. This means that a small, really smart piece of software will constantly monitor your server, storage, memory and network resources and compare that to work-loads to estimate and forecast which servers need more resources. It then needs to automatically, in real-time, re-allocate resources so that you are always using your cloud computing resources in the most efficient manner – automatically. How cool is that. The dream continues…
The beautiful ending to this story is that the ultimate savings of idle capacity can be passed on to you. The cost/server for a well designed Private Cloud is less than a dedicated server on a per server basis! So, not only is it more flexible and deliver a lower Total Cost of Ownership, a managed, private cloud can be outright cheaper. That’s the benefit of a Private Cloud.