Choosing the Right Private Cloud Technology for Your IT Needs
IT departments are faced with numerous questions when implementing new cloud technology, including: Which technology is right for our needs? How do we narrow down choices? Do we need a partner to implement these changes? Our recent guide, Choosing the Right Private Cloud Technology for Your IT Needs, discusses answers to these questions and more.
As enterprises seek ways to decrease their cloud footprint while increasing their operational agility, many are leveraging a mix of public and private cloud, i.e., a hybrid cloud approach, as the means to that end. The challenge is that choosing a hybrid strategy requires making complex decisions on both private and public cloud technology approaches.
When it comes to technology, it is the private cloud approach that requires far more consideration. Since every business is different, it's imperative to start from a point of understanding. This understanding should illuminate the benefits and drawbacks of public, private, and hybrid as a means of informing the technology needs of the private cloud.
"The challenge is that choosing a hybrid strategy requires making complex decisions on both private and public cloud technology approaches."
With the public cloud, a provider hosts your applications and workloads in its data center and makes access available via the internet. Much like the externally-hosted private cloud, the service provider takes all of the responsibility for managing and maintaining the equipment that the files are backed up to. The difference is that with the public cloud, the space in the service provider's data center is likely shared with other organizations.
Depending on the intended public cloud use and configuration, this approach has some benefits and drawbacks, including:
- Increased agility through fast provisioning and deployment of new resources
- Resource scalability to accommodate growth
- Better uptime than on-premises data centers, which supports BCDR
- Potential for increased application performance
- Lower CAPEX and OPEX than on-premises data center due to less hardware and maintenance needs
- Security issues can arise, making it less than ideal for critical workloads
- A loss of control
- VM sprawl that can result in increased costs
Hybrid cloud is a combination of both the public and private clouds. This technique involves inputting all of the data that the organization does not want accessed through the internet, or in the public cloud, into the private cloud data center. This can include any mission-critical data or sensitive employee and business information. All other data can be stored in the more easily scalable public cloud.
A private cloud is a platform exclusively built for and dedicated to your business. While private clouds can be hosted on premises, they can also be managed private cloud services where varying degrees of the operation and maintenance of your cloud infrastructure are handled by the cloud provider. Some of the features of the private cloud include:
- Single client accessibility that delivers the ability to configure and manage it in line with their need for achieving a tailored network solution for much greater control
- More efficient computing resources that minimize unused capacity investment
- Improved reliability and resiliency in virtualized operating environments to lower physical infrastructure failures
- Cloud bursting in the event of spikes in demand
Download a PDF version of this guide by filling out this form, or keep scrolling to read.
Private Cloud Technology and the Virtualized Data Center
Because networks hold the potential for bottlenecks in data transport that can hamper the effectiveness of a private cloud, businesses must first look at networking and capacity needs. Capacity planning is central to ensuring that sufficient computing, storage, and network resources are available to the business when needed and at the most optimum cost.
Capacity planning is crucial to the private cloud where the organization must manage or make decisions with the support of the outsourced cloud provider. Consequently, the network is where the choices for the right technology for the private cloud begins.
"Capacity planning is central to ensuring that sufficient computing, storage, and network resources are available to the business when needed and at the most optimum cost."
To provide the network flexibility and agility that private clouds require, many organizations look to software defined networks (SDNs). The speed and agility that SDNs deliver can be huge for application performance, migrations, and traffic rerouting.
SDNs for Private Cloud
SDNs deliver a number of benefits, including stronger security via network micro-segmentation and the ability to make rapid network changes in response to cloud needs. While micro-segmentation is a foundational element to cloud security strategy for SDN-based data centers, it can be complicated to determine the micro-segmentation boundaries.
Automation tools like VMware for provisioning and orchestration of the cloud can help with cloud capacity planning. The best way forward is to put processes and policies in place to keep your private cloud on track. Doing this starts with understanding your business requirements, including:
- Analyzing historic resource utilization and using it to understand and forecast future business requirements
- Tracking patterns and leveraging that data
- Analyzing future departmental needs based on upcoming projects, uses, and projected growth and/or new lines of business
- Monitoring and managing your usage policy to plan for how much additional hardware or bandwidth you will need down the line
The Benefits of SDDC
The virtualization that is possible with the software-defined data center (SDDC) brings greater agility, among other benefits such as:
- Prioritizing a business focus over components for adaptability and responsiveness
- Enabling the use of commodity hardware for agility and easy maintenance
- Facilitating automation of resource provisioning and management, which lowers OPEX
- Providing single platform management and eliminating tools required for management of routers, switches, storage devices, and other hardware
- Maximizing utilization for increased ROI, while minimizing stranded capacity and wasted IT funds
- Creating an adaptive, holistic infrastructure that optimally supports all workloads
- Making the data center location-agnostic so that it can reside across multiple physical sites and combine various service providers
- Increasing resiliency by compensating for hardware and software failure and offering security and disaster-recovery advantages.
- Freeing IT personnel through elastic computing
VMware for Managed Private Clouds
While SDN and the SDDC are major technology building blocks for the private cloud, they require specific tools and approaches that enable management and provisioning of that private cloud. This is where VMware and its numerous integrated tools come into play.
The main use of vCenter is providing a single interface for the virtualized data center. It acts as the management interface for the vSphere hypervisor and management suite that includes the ESXi, which is the VMware hypervisor underlying infrastructure resources and the VMs.
VMotion enables the live migration of running virtual machines from one physical server to another and enables:
- Automatic optimization and allocation of resource pools for maximum hardware utilization and availability
- Hardware maintenance without any scheduled downtime
- Proactive migration of virtual machines away from failing or underperforming servers
Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS) enables rules definitions for physical resource allocation among virtual machines either automatically or manually. Drastic workload changes prompt DRS to redistribute the virtual machines among the physical servers. If the overall workload decreases, some of the physical servers can be temporarily powered down and the workload can be consolidated.
High availability is paramount for systems and applications, so the ability of VMware vSphere HA (High Availability) to restart failed virtual machines (VMs) on alternative host servers reduces application downtime. VMware DRS and vSphere HA work together for workload rebalancing. The use of vSphere HA and DRS together can keep restarted VMs from affecting the performance of other VMs on the failover host.
VMware Fault Tolerance provides continuous availability for virtual machines by creating and maintaining a secondary VM that is identical to, and continuously available to replace, the primary VM in the event of a failover situation. You can enable Fault Tolerance for most mission-critical virtual machines.
Consolidating Hardware via Bare Metal Hypervisor
The VMware ESXi bare metal hypervisor facilitates physical server installation and the access and control of its underlying resources. It also enables hardware partitioning for reduced hardware costs, among other features. ESXi delivers a host of benefits through:
- Hardware consolidation and increased capacity utilization
- Increased application performance
- Centralized IT management
- Reduced CAPEX and OPEX
- Minimized hardware resources needed to run hypervisor for cost savings and more efficient utilization
This alleviates a great deal of the pressure on IT teams that work with limited budgets and need to implement other vital, complex projects.
SDN Virtual Networking and Security
VMware NSX is the network virtualization platform for the SDDC. With NSX, network functions—including switching, routing, and firewalling—are embedded in the hypervisor and distributed across the environment. This effectively creates a network hypervisor that acts as a platform for virtual networks and service by providing:
- Individual workload micro-segmentation and granular security
- Reduced network provisioning and improved operational efficiency through automation
- Workload mobility independent of physical network topology within and across data centers
- Enhanced security and advanced networking services through third-party vendor solutions
"VMware NSX is the network virtualization platform for the SDDC. With NSX, network functions—including switching, routing, and fire-walling—are embedded in the hypervisor and distributed across the environment."
Cloud Management and Monitoring
The role of management and monitoring is crucial for private clouds, and VMware provides numerous tools to accomplish this.
VMware vRealize Suite Operations Benefits
vRealize is designed to help IT administrators build and manage heterogeneous, hybrid clouds by providing:
- Unified monitoring
- Automated performance management
- Cloud planning and capacity optimization
VMware vCenter Log Insight
vCenter Log Insight is a virtual appliance that allows administrators to view, manage, and analyze system log data including log consolidation, monitoring and troubleshooting vSPhere, and performing security auditing and compliance testing.
VMware Cross Cloud Architecture
Cross Cloud Services enable management of all cloud deployments for an organization. This single-pane-of-glass approach enables a common VMware operating environment across private and public clouds.
VMware vSphere Replication
VSphere Replication automates the replication of virtual servers to a recovery site, and when used in conjunction with VMware SRM, gives businesses a strong BCDR foundation.
VMware vCenter Converter
VCenter Converter can convert Windows- and Linux-based physical machines and Microsoft Hyper-V systems into VMware virtual machines.
VMware SDDC provides all of the software needed for building an enterprise infrastructure that is flexible, easy to manage, and easy to change for future needs. By virtualizing storage and networking, in addition to compute, SDDC is less dependent on physical hardware. Together with VMware vRealize Automation and NSX, enterprises can easily control, manage, provision, and orchestrate multi-cloud environments that are a mix of private and public.
The Importance of Managed Services
Public and private cloud strategies involve a number of complex decisions that can easily overwhelm an organization's IT team as it concentrates on numerous other projects simultaneously. When you add in the decisions for major application migrations, such as SAP Hana and ERP, things get even more challenging.
Public IaaS cloud providers often provide a rich set of features and capabilities that vary by provider, and that can be overwhelming to the uninitiated. In the case of a Private Cloud, it’s about architecture and the operational management of the underlying infrastructure to prevent latency and ensure availability, performance, policy compliance, and security.
It can also be challenging to have the expertise in these areas and the ability to effectively manage and orchestrate workloads in the context of a Hybrid, Multi-Vendor IT environment. On a macro level, the tasks associated with avoiding VM sprawl and lifecycle management go directly to keeping costs in check.
MSPs can help immensely by bringing their deep operational expertise across the various technologies, as well as policy enforcement, accounting, compliance, and security. Some of the important benefits of an MSP partner for cloud strategy include:
- Managing and overseeing the assessment, application mapping, migration, and testing processes
- Managing the existing heterogeneous, multi-vendor IT infrastructure
- Developing the Hybrid Cloud operating model
- Budgeting and cost tracking
- Report delivery on billing, usage, logs, and more for accounting, marketing, or IT departments to use for research or budgeting
- BCDR plan development, deployment, and testing
The knowledge and expertise that cloud MSPs are able to bring to the table is invaluable to any company. By working as a partner that can help organizations sort through all of those factors, cloud MSPs can serve as a true extension of the internal team. By leveraging their expertise to create a customized cloud strategy, they can deliver the agility, operational efficiency, and cost control that each organization requires in the digital age.
"The knowledge and expertise that cloud MSPs are able to bring to the table is invaluable to any company."