Private Cloud Computing Essentials

Introduction

Cloud Computing has kicked off the next big wave in business computing, namely Private Cloud Computing. It is offering many benefits including business agility, security, scalability and reduced administration resulting in a lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) for any size and type of company. The recent innovations in mobile device and virtualization technologies, including today’s comprehensive wireless access to high-speed Internet, have all contributed to the acceleration of Cloud Computing.

Well respected analysts are predicting exceptional growth for Cloud Computing products and services in the coming years. IDC has forecasted that this IT market segment will grow from $21.5 billion in 2010 to $72.9 billion by 2015.

Fueled by the rapid growth of Social Computing, mobility and availability has become a key factor for the hardware and software industry, with mobile devices and applications (apps) accessing the web set to be bigger than traditional desktop computing by 2015.

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The number of employees using their own smart phones and tablet devices to access both, Private/Corporate and Public Cloud Services is fast increasing. This recent development has forced decision makers in most IT departments to make business applications available in similar ways.

About Private Cloud Computing

Cloud Computing began with the Public Cloud where a service provider makes resources available to the public either for free or with a pay as you go model. This can include computing services, applications and storage. This model is low cost and easy to set up with no need to worry about scalability as you only pay for what you use. Examples of the Public Cloud include Google Apps and Amazon Web Services.

The Public Cloud addressed the needs of the market but it was not tailored to the needs of individual companies. While it offers many benefits, there are certain applications that require stricter control over data. This has lead to the evolution of Private Cloud Computing or delivering IT as a service securely within your own infrastructure.

The reality is that most organizations are in fact offering a Hybrid Cloud, combining the best of both worlds from the Public Cloud and Private Cloud. Ideally, the hybrid approach allows a business to take advantage of the scalability and cost-effectiveness that a public cloud computing environment offers without exposing mission-critical applications and data to third-party vulnerabilities.

Therefore, the Private Cloud becomes an inevitable necessity. In this guide we will discuss exactly what Private Cloud Computing is, how to implement it and the benefits it can bring to your organization.

What is Private Cloud Computing?

The Private Cloud is essentially a Cloud Infrastructure that operates solely for a single organization or where the service access is limited to a specific group of people. Private Cloud Computing is comprised of networking, server hardware (which usually provides server virtualization), storage and management tools. This is most often managed internally but also can be hosted externally by a Managed Service Provider (MSP), which is then known as a Virtual Private Cloud.

An IDC 2010 survey of IT decision makers stated that the majority of survey respondents (57%) ranked their likelihood of deploying a Private Cloud at least a “5” out of “10” (with “10” being most likely), compared with 42% for Public Cloud. In the same survey, 29% of organizations said they are “currently using” or “plan to use” Private Clouds, with another 44% “considering” Private Clouds for their organizations. This demonstrates both the interest level and the early stage adoptive nature of the technology.

The 12-Step Private Cloud Computing comparison chart below clearly shows the advantages of Private Cloud Computing over both Public Cloud Computing and Local Computing.

Table

Functions Local Computing Public Cloud Computing Private Cloud Computing
Mobility / Access Difficult Easy Easy
Scalability Difficult Easy Easy
Data Security High Low High
Offsite Data Backup No Yes Yes
Universal Printing & Scanning No No Yes
Client Device Independent No Yes Yes
Resource Sharing Difficult Easy Easy
Uptime Low High High
Administration Difficult Easy Easy
Business Agility Low Medium High
Capital Expenditure High Low Low
ROI Slow Medium Fast

Benefits of Private Cloud Computing

To summarize the 12-Step Private Cloud Computing comparison chart shown above, the most compelling benefits of Private Cloud Computing are as follows:

  • Mobility / Access – Private Cloud computing provides simple and secure access whenever you want, wherever you are.
  • Scalability – Private Cloud computing allows seamless scalability for your business.
  • Data Security – Private Cloud computing aliresses the security concerns around Public Cloud computing by allowing companies to maintain sovereignty and control of access to data.
  • Offsite Data Backup – the Private Cloud ensures your data is safely backed up on an offsite location.
  • Universal Printing & Scanning – Private Cloud Computing provides easily accessible printing and scanning from any location.
  • Client Device Independent – enable the use of employees’ own mobile device without compromising security.
  • Resource Sharing – a Private Cloud solution ensures organizational efficiency through effective resource sharing.
  • Reduced Workload for IT Administrators – by using built-in automation tools for Private Cloud solutions, the workload for IT administrators is reduced.
  • Business Agility – using virtual servers instead of physical servers, IT administrators can quickly scale-up capacity as required, and deploy new applications quickly without the need to build and test hardware.
  • Uptime & High Availability – the systems management tools of Private Cloud computing can detect when the infrastructure supporting an application is about to go down, and launch a new virtual machine to shift the load over.
  • Uptime & Reliability – business critical applications can be kept within the Private Cloud by applying SLA’s so they continue to operate in an outage, while less important services can be supported cost-effectively to the Public Cloud.
  • Capital Expenditure – Private Cloud computing eliminates the cost for constant hardware and software upgrades, therefore reducing IT related capital expenditure.
  • ROI – a Private Cloud solution provides a fast ROI, as IT costs are reduced while IT processes are improved, making the organization run more efficiently in a secure environment.
  • Control over Regulatory Environments – the Private Cloud allows for adherence to regulatory constraints around data locality, disaster recovery and privacy.

Creating a Private Cloud

Once the benefits of Private Cloud computing are understood the right model must be selected to fit the business needs. There are several questions that have to be answered in order to setup a Private Cloud. Should you build your own Private Cloud or use an MSP and a Virtual Private Cloud? What platform will be used to create the infrastructure? Can security threats be contained? How will it be managed?

Public Cloud vs. Private Cloud

Choosing a Public or a Private Cloud solution requires significant due diligence before a decision can be made. Using Public Cloud may seem like a logical choice but may be more costly than Private Cloud in the end. Public Cloud promises to be efficient, scalable and reliable but has fallen short on more than one occasion. The main problem with Public Cloud computing is the shared infrastructure environment that creates security exposure and potential hardware issues from other customers. Private Cloud on the other hand has dedicated resources that can be managed by the customer and provide greater reliability and higher security.

Platform

One of the main goals of cloud computing is to provide uninterrupted service to users. Virtual servers provide administrators with tools to minimize server crashes and provide failover capabilities that are built into the hypervisor. There are numerous hardware and hypervisors available to choose from and build a platform from. In a Private Cloud solution choosing the right platform is not only a matter cost but the skill set of the team. The major hypervisor platforms (VMware, Hyper-V and Citrix) merits are largely considered based on cost and features. With Public Clouds like EC2 the platform is the product the provider is selling so then it’s a matter of choosing the right product. Evaluating the product based on price and performance will be the main focus but there are other factors. Some other factors to consider are network security, storage, disaster recovery procedures, service-level agreements (SLA), and the location of the facility. When dealing with Public Clouds it’s imperative to choose the right provider because contracts with the provider and the difficulties involved in changing providers can be considerable.

Storage

Cloud Storage is usually in the form of a SAN which provides flexibility and scalability for customers. Other advantages of Cloud Storage are continuity of service, disaster recovery and security depending on the cloud model. These features may help customers meet regulatory requirements and provide access to resources that are costly and a skilled staff to implement. Providers may also offer backup services that can be replicated to alternate facilities.

Security

While choosing the right platform is imperative securing the data in the “cloud” also requires substantial planning. Security is an issue that has similar concerns for both Private Cloud and Virtual Private Cloud. While the provider will be responsible for network security in the Virtual Private Cloud model, in both models server security is the responsibility of the server administrator. Again this demonstrates the need to thoroughly pick a provider or have staff with the necessary skills to effectively secure corporate data. A provider should be able to produce a comprehensive security strategy that meets industry standards such as PCI and other specific standards related to the business such as HIPPA. This may be a difficult challenge for staff to create in a Private Cloud due to the knowledge and equipment that may be required to achieve PCI compliance.

Administration

Administrating Private Cloud and Virtual Private Cloud differ greatly. Private Cloud administrators can directly use the hypervisor interface to configure all aspects of the virtual servers. Some key hypervisor features are snap shots and clustering for failover. These features can be configured to roll back server in the event of an operating system crash or hardware failure. This is not the case with Virtual Private Cloud and there can be a wide range of available configuration options depending on the provider. Providers can build an interface or pick 3rd party tools to give customers configuration options. This means customers may have to rely on provider staff to make configuration changes or roll back servers.

These are some of the major concerns for creating a Private Cloud but certainly isn’t comprehensive list due to wide variety of specific line of business considerations. In either case whether Private Cloud or Virtual Private Cloud great consideration must be taken to discover the business needs and choose the model that fits best. After a preliminary decision is made both feature and stress testing are needed to confirm functionality and solidify confidence in the solution.

Leveraging the Private Cloud with 2X ApplicationServer XG

While Private Cloud computing provides efficient, scalable and reliable systems its full potential lies in the virtualization of applications, desktops, files and folders that can be delivered to various devices.

2X ApplicationServer XG enables people to work from anywhere with virtually any device. It’s a powerful tool that allows businesses to leverage their existing applications on multiple devices with clients for PC, MAC, Linux, iOS, Android and Blackberry.

vds-single-farm-with-2x-client-solution
  1. Centralized resources that can be more effectively managed both from a cost and security perspective.
    • The cost of software updates can be reduced with volume licensed copies that can be shared instead of a full individual copy for every user.
    • Users’ terminal server access can be strictly controlled with group policies i.e. software cannot be installed or downloaded on terminal servers. SSL connections and second level authentication can used to create a secure environment.
  2. Applications can be delivered to users on multiple OS platforms for both desktop and mobile devices.
    • The 2X client is available for Windows XP,7,8, OS X, ,Linux, desktop operating systems.
    • The 2X client is available iPhone, iPad, Blackberry tablets, Android tablets and phones.
  3. Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery
    • Application downtime is reduced with redundant systems and quick client build times.
    • The 2X ApplicationServer XG has backup capabilities built in with the Pro version or higher.

Conclusion

The evolution of Private Cloud computing is beginning to deliver on its promise, and many organizations have started to capitalize on the benefits. The cloud paradigm has some constant factors to account for in any scenario, such as Scalability, Security, Availability and Cost Transparency. Proper planning, through the implementation of concepts discussed in this whitepaper, will ensure that organizational investments in Private Cloud computing are not crippled by unexpected downtime, sky rocketing costs or security breaches.

Click here to read the white paper: Private Cloud Computing Essentials.

The Future of Computing – Local Desktop Computers are Dead

The significant improvements in display and processing technology have led to the massive usage of mobile devices, such as Smart Phones, Tablets and Netbooks with a wide range of applications. Consequently, users simply want to have access to their hosted desktops and applications from anywhere, and at anytime. This service-led approach evolves into the next stage where companies do not want the aggravation of maintaining a server room and the associated administrative resources. Therefore, they move the server capacity to the hosted Private Cloud and migrate to a leased rental model, also known as a Cloud As A Service (CAAS).

Ultimately, various ISV’s and IT providers will deliver their services to the cloud and customers or enterprises will pick and choose the services they require for the Private Cloud. We’ve already witnessed the start of this with the emergence of Private Cloud products such as 2X ApplicationServer XG or public cloud models offered by Amazon, Google and Microsoft. New ideas and products will follow in the coming years, making Cloud Computing more secure, simpler and affordable.

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