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GCN : August 2014
66 Private Cloud "Start by standardizing your environment," Plankers suggests. "You get the most bang for the buck when you have standard builds of servers, operating systems and server configurations." Configuration tools that help IT administrators deploy and enforce these standards include Microsoft's System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM), Puppet Enterprise from Puppet Labs, and Chef, which is part of the Ruby development environment. With standardization as a foundation, the IT staff can turn to management tools for automated provisioning and orchestrating of cloud services. Automation takes on the numerous manual tasks that an IT staff routinely performs, such as provisioning new virtual machines in a virtualized data center. In production environments, these solutions can also act based on information they're receiving about prevailing demand for resources. If a virtual machine is running low on memory, these tools can proactively assign additional resources. Similarly, a VM may be designated to run on a high- performance server during regular business hours, but then automatically move to a less powerful platform in the evening when demand drops. IT managers can perform various aspects of automated provisioning with tools such as Microsoft's VM Manager, Configuration Manager and Service Manager --- each available within SCCM. And, EMC Unisphere, for instance, provides unified management of the storage infrastructure. In fact, many server manufacturers now ship provisioning tools with their blade products. Orchestration solutions perform a series of related activities required to deliver services to end users. For example, to bring a new workload into production, an orchestration tool can configure VM settings on the physical hardware, as well as provision any required storage and database resources. Next, it can set up related network connections and install relevant applications. "Orchestration allows administrators to focus on the actual application and the needs of end users rather than on all the underlying technical considerations required for deploying an application in the cloud," Desai says. Some popular orchestration tools include VMware vCenter Orchestrator and Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud. When evaluating provisioning and orchestration solutions, look for those that support industry standards, such as the Storage Management Initiative-- Specification, Desai recommends. "Standards assure that you can provision and manage resources in a multivendor environment," he says. In addition, IT managers should carefully match tools to their particular cloud architectures. For example, some automation tools only work within a specific virtualization platform, so an IT shop managing multiple virtualization technologies would want tools with cross-platform reach. 6 Steps to a Private Cloud With organizational benefits and an understanding of some necessary tools in mind, IT managers can plot THE JOURNEY CONTINUES Even though the successful launch of a private cloud typically delivers a host of benefits to an organization, it's rarely the end of the cloud journey. " e direction that a number of organizations are going in is implementations where it's not all private cloud or public cloud, but a hybrid arrangement," says Sean McDermott, CEO of tech consultancy Windward IT Solutions. Recent Gartner predictions bolster this theory. e hybrid cloud approach holds so much appeal that nearly half of large organizations expect to manage one within the next four years, Gartner found. How does this play out under real-world conditions? One common practice involves maintaining high-availability resources onsite in data facilities, while pre-negotiating service-level agreements with public-cloud providers for low-cost, commodity computing services. "Some resources I will need to provision in my data center, while some resources I won't need to manage in-house," McDermott says. "If I need 50 servers for 24 hours, and I don't have the capacity, I can ship out that workload to a public cloud and charge the business unit for it. After 24 hours, I can then shut it down."