Private Cloud – Is Your Enterprise Ready ?

Many enterprises decide to go for a private cloud without realizing what they are getting into.  Quite a few of them end up on the wrong side, sometimes losing out on multiple fronts, financial, customers being the major two of them.  It is imperative for an enterprise to do a thorough analysis on what exactly is their need, what actually is a private cloud solution going to deliver, and what are the consequences of having their applications and customers using a cloud solution.

Here is a small checklist on looking at the enterprise readiness for having a private cloud of their own –

Be very clear on what exactly are the benefit with Private Cloud

Lots of time, IT analysts and consultants, suggest having this or that technology without the proper background preparation. Not to doubt their well intended advice, the enterprise has to do its own homework. A cloud is a reasonably complex solution, and this complexity should be very well managed.  For instance, a private cloud, by definition, is the thing which is “not to do”.  By definition, a cloud solution is supposed to be low on upfront cost, have metered usage costs and stuff like that. However a private cloud is exactly the opposite, wherein the enterprise is investing lots of money upfront (to setup the cloud), and the investment is for a future metered usage, which might or might not happen.

Therefore, be very sure on what is it that the enterprise needs, instead of flowing with technology fashion,  being a part of a herd, make your own assessment, and then take a decision.

Be very clear that a cloud infrastructure/solution is much more than just virtualization

Cloud solutions rely on virtualization, for sure. However, a complete cloud solution is a lot more than just virtualization.  As much as the cloud concept is about virtualization, it’s also about elasticity, de-provisioning, chargeback, automation of maintenance and deployment among many other things.  The enterprise has to realize that just by doing a decent degree of virtualization in their data centre; they are not going to be a private cloud.

The higher management might want to push for a cloud based solution for different reasons, one of them being the improvement in the bottom-line; however, it is the duty of the enterprise architect to make the management aware of the difference in the perception and the reality.

The enterprise should have a very mature working model

A cloud pushes a standardization process; you have standard hardware/software and provide the customers a standard piece of service.  The enterprise has to be very sure whether it is mature enough to handle the level of standardization the cloud solution suggests/demands.

A lot of times such maturity comes with effort sometimes painful at first. Talk to any CMMi certified enterprise’s Software Engineering group, they can share the pains. But the fruits it reaps are fantastic for sure. The enterprise should already be at that level of maturity and if not already, should get there before the cloud solutions kick in.

If there are parts of the enterprise that need custom computing solutions, and these are plenty, it should be an area of concern, since the cloud would not be able to cater to such customization needs.  If such customers are 5-10% of the total, perhaps you can keep them out of the cloud and still let the cloud build, however, if the custom needs outgrow the standard computing needs, the cloud decision has to be re-evaluated.

Do a thorough analysis of applications and customer’s readiness to work with cloud

It’s imperative that a thorough preparatory analysis is done for figuring out the applications that are going to be run on the private cloud.  It’s very important that the applications are compatible with the cloud architecture. If not so, the enterprise might be looking at another cost, that of re-writing/customizing applications for the private cloud.

Customers to a private cloud are the employees of the enterprise who use the IT infrastructure to accomplish their day to day job.  This group may not be the most IT savvy group of employees, and therefore it’s very important to see whether the new cloud infrastructure is going to be as good and productive for the customers.  An open survey of the customers could give a view on their readiness to accept the restrictions put forth by the cloud infrastructure.

Does the enterprise at some point need to have integration with public clouds?

At that point it’s even more important to evaluate the need for a private cloud. If it has to join the public cloud for certain services, it should be another point of thought as to whether the enterprise needs a private infrastructure as well.   The justification for the private cloud should come from both financial and customer service perspectives.

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