As discussed in my last blog post, and in my session at the recent Open Stack Silicon Valley event, there's still significant confusion in the minds of IT admins between a private cloud and server virtualization environments. As a result, there are a lot of misperceptions about what it takes to get your private cloud investments right and drive adoption among your developers. The answers may surprise you; they may even be the opposite of what you have been thinking. From speaking with enterprises who have deployed successful private clouds, we've found your cloud should be smaller than you think, priced cheaper than the ROI math would justify and must be actively marketed internally - no, private clouds are not a Field of Dreams.
First and foremost, if you think the way you operate your server virtualization environment today is good enough to call a cloud, you are probably lying to yourself. Your internal cloud must be:
- Highly standardized - Meaning the key operational procedures of your internal IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) environment (provisioning, placement, patching, migration, parking and destroying) should all be documented and conducted the same way every time. Also, the types of VMs, workloads and workload stacks that can be deployed should be standardized as much as possible.
- Highly automated - To make sure the above standardized procedures are done the same every time, you need to take these tasks out of the realm of human error and hand them over to automation software.
- Self-service to developers - We've found many IT admins are very much against this concept for fear that it will lead to chaos in the data center. But the reality is just the opposite because of 1 and 2. When you standardize what can be deployed into the cloud and how, you eliminate the risk of chaos.
- Shared via Multitenancy - For your internal cloud to be cost effective and have a strong ROI you need it to be highly utilized - much more so than your traditional virtualization environment. The way to get there is to share a single cloud among all departments inside your company.
- Hybrid - As stated above, your private cloud should be significantly smaller than you think at the outset. The main reason for this is to ensure you achieve your ROI objectives from this investment but also so that you leverage the public cloud as part of your private cloud value proposition. There will be workloads your developers want to deploy that just don't make sense in your private cloud (such as stress testing a new web property). You will want to be able to tap the public cloud as overflow from your private cloud when and where appropriate. That's a big reason Microsoft built Windows Azure Pack and the anticipated Microsoft Azure Stack - to act as contiguous extensions of our public Azure platform.
As stated in the Gartner Inc. report referenced in my last blog post, less than 5% of enterprise private clouds are being operated in this fashion today. So if you aren't here yet, you aren't alone. You can successfully deploy and operate a private cloud, whether you start with a private cloud solution or build one yourself, but ignoring these truths about IaaS environments will keep success at bay. There's much more to getting a private cloud right that we can discuss in-person and that we will share in this blog, via Channel 9 and other forums going forward. And we're also designing Microsoft Azure Stack to help you achieve these objectives. We want to know where you are struggling and how we can help you achieve private and hybrid cloud success. Reach out in the comments below or Tweet us @Azure.