Posts Tagged 'private cloud computing'

Implementing a Private Cloud Solution

Last week I attended Learning Tree’s “Implementing a Private Cloud Solution” course at our Reston Education Center. It is a great course for anyone seeking in-depth technical details on how to build their own on-premises private cloud. The course also covers using a hosted private cloud solution and building secure connections to your own data center.

This course is not for the faint of heart! It is also not for the technically challenged! When you show up Tuesday morning you need to be prepared to work very hard for the next four days. The course author, Boleslav Sykora, has put together a fast paced session that gives you as much technical detail as you would ever want on the subject. It is the type of course where you will want to come early and stay late each and every day so you can work through all the extensive bonus exercises that are offered. I loved it and I think you will too!

We feature building two private clouds, one using Eucalyptus and another using Microsoft System Center, completely from scratch. There is a lot of Linux command line stuff and quite a bit of detailed networking configuration. This is exactly the reality of what is involved if you want to build your own private cloud. Over the four days you come to understand that private cloud computing is not some mystical, magical hype but is an evolution of solid fundamental concepts that have been around for some time. This course will appeal to technical professionals who want to gain real experience implementing solutions that will define the future of the on-premises data center.

For those who would prefer not to bother with the complexity of an internal private cloud implementation there are many hosted solutions to choose from. Probably the best known is Amazon’s Virtual Private Cloud (VPC). Once you use VPC on Amazon you will likely never go back to using EC2 without it.

In fact as I write this blog I am on a train heading to New York. There I will teach Learning Tree’s “Cloud Computing with Amazon Web Services” course. That, also, is a great course!

Because there are many private cloud implementations based on the Amazon EC2 model and API (particularly Eucalyptus) Amazon has kind of become the de facto standard for how Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) is done. Even if you believe you would never use a public cloud for a production system there is much to be learned about cloud computing from Amazon. Beyond that the public cloud is a great place to do testing, development and proof-of-concept before investing the time and capital required to build your own private cloud. Public clouds such as Amazon can also become part of a hybrid solution that features the best of what private clouds and public clouds have to offer. Learning Tree’s Amazon Web Services course gives you hands-on experience with many aspects of Amazon’s cloud and shows you how to build solutions using the various services offered there.

So if you are a hardcore techie who wants to have end-to-end control over all aspects of a cloud solution come to Learning Tree’s private cloud course. If you would like to understand how to leverage the Amazon public cloud or to understand the service models of arguably the most dominant cloud provider in the world then come to Learning Tree’s Amazon Web Services course. Either way I hope to see you soon!

Kevin Kell

Microsoft and Private Clouds

Private clouds have been the subject of many of my recent posts for many reasons. There is a large interest in this area of cloud computing and there is always much to report on, whether new products from dedicated private cloud organisations such as Eucalyptus, or the computing giants such as Oracle. Today, my focus is on Microsoft and their private cloud offering. Whilst most people who follow cloud computing will be aware of Microsoft’s public cloud offerings with Software as a Service (SaaS) like Office365 and the Platform as a Service (PaaS) Azure, not so many are aware of their private cloud offering.

Microsoft’s private cloud offering is built on using Hyper-V, Windows Server 2008 and Microsoft System Centre. These tools which many organisations are using, allow private clouds to be built that enable the pooling of key infrastructure resources–compute storage and networking and then dynamically allocated to where they are needed or can be best utilised. Examples include the autoscaling of Exchange server both up and down as its load varies over time. The same applies to other products such as SharePoint and Microsoft Dynamics. This has large implications for IT costs as well as productivity. Using IT resources will become the norm over the next couple of years for the majority of organisations–the benefits, both business and technical are so compelling. Microsoft are totally focusing their next generation of server side products on this concept and Windows Server 8 or Windows Server 2012 as it is officially to be called is being advertised as a “Cloud Optimised operating system.” What we are seeing here is that Microsoft is moving beyond virtualisation and offering a true private cloud solution with their core product suite.

It is interesting to consider some of the differences in the way Microsoft license their technology, compared with say VMWare, who have similar offerings through their  vCloud and cCentre products. Microsoft private cloud solutions are licensed on a per processor bases, allowing many virtual machines to be run on a processor with a single license. VMWare in contrast, license per virtual machine. This can make a big difference on the costs of running a private cloud, from the hardware selected to the infrastructure software required. This makes calculating the costs and choosing a vendor a far from simple process.

There have been some interesting case studies published by Microsoft of clients who have benefited through adopting their private cloud technologies. One example is Apartments.com, an online apartment search service who needed a more dynamic IT infrastructure to deliver faster service to its 6 million site visitors each month. With Microsoft’s private cloud, the company realized 50 percent faster server provisioning for new services and 75 percent lower licensing costs compared to their previous systems. Another example is the Walsh Group, a construction firm who switched to a Microsoft private cloud to automate delivery of virtualized servers and applications for 5,000 employees. As well as the IT benefits they were also able to reduce hardware and energy costs by 20 percent.

In summary, private clouds are rapidly becoming mainstream IT technology as they are built into core infrastructure products. Many end users will not be aware they are using cloud computing other than they should have more performant systems and the latest software updates automatically installed. For those responsible for implementing a private cloud for their organisations, Learning Tree have  developed  a 4-day hands-on course that details how to implement a private cloud. Take a look at the details, it provides a vendor independent, in-depth coverage of all that is needed to successfully implement a private cloud.

Chris Czarnecki

Selecting a Private Cloud Vendor

When considering adopting Cloud Computing, I hear many organisations express a strong preference for private clouds. Sometimes this is a rational view based on strict business rules for example to meet regulatory and audit requirements. Often, the preference is an emotional judgement based on the fact that a public cloud appears to be ‘less secure’.  What is clear is that private clouds have a significant role to play for a large number of organisations both now and in the near future.

Any organisation wishing to implement a private cloud has a large choice of both commercial and open source software to choose from. Consider the open source world and there are many strong offerings such as :

These are just a sample of the open source products that are available. It is interesting to consider the driving forces behind these products. OpenStack has RackSpace and Nasa amongst others, CloudStack has Citrix, and Eucalyptus has Eucalyptus Systems. All have commercial organisations pushing the development as well as the traditional open source contributors.

It was interesting to hear last week that Eucalyptus Systems announced an oversubscribed $30 million Series C funding. This means that Eucalyptus has, to date, raised $55 million in capital to drive innovation, sales and customer support. Eucalyptus have over recent months announced partnerships and agreements with a number of organisations including Amazon, Wipro Infotech and CETC32. The latter two enable Eucalyptus to gain market share in India and China, both significant, if not the most significant IT markets in the world. This investment highlights the confidence markets have both in private cloud computing as well as Eucalyptus as a leading product.

All three of the above private cloud offerings provide rich Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) platforms. Making a choice of which private cloud vendor to use is an extremely difficult decision. Many questions such as what are the core services, which hypervisors are supported, what storage mechanisms, account and administration services, support for high availability, integration with public clouds–these are just some of the questions that need to be considered and answered.

I believe that the integration with public clouds is a key question. When considering moving to the cloud, many organisations look for a like-for-like replacement for existing infra-structure. This may be appropriate, but often they miss opportunities to work in better ways–different, more efficient and cost-effective ways–because many services available on public clouds are not available on private clouds. Examples include Amazon’s highly scalable, low latency DynamoDB product. Using a securely integrated hybrid cloud–private and public–could be a solution that offers the lowest risk, highest availability option for many organisations.

In summary, a private cloud is often the appropriate solution for an organisation, but in most cases only as part of a bigger cloud solution. A public cloud nearly always has a role to play too, which when integrated with the private cloud provides a hybrid solution. Selecting an appropriate private cloud is not an easy choice and has to be balanced over functionality required, maturity, level of available support as well as an ability to integrate with public clouds too. This is not an easy choice. If you are considering a private cloud and are not sure of the choices and factors that should influence your decision, both from a technical and business perspective, why not consider attending Learning Tree’s Cloud Computing Course, where, over three days we discuss both the technology and business aspects of cloud computing. You will also get hands-on exposure to the Eucalyptus private cloud.

Chris Czarnecki

Demystifying Private Cloud Computing

Last week I was on a consulting assignment for a client that is interested in cloud computing but concerned about the security of the cloud. A private cloud is something that could clearly benefit this organisation but then the question arose about how they would provision and deploy a solution and what would the skill requirements be for their staff. Further discussions then lead to considerations such as how big should the private cloud be so that it could cater for peaks in demand as well as future growth. What was clear was that this organisation was considering hosting the private cloud themselves and had not even considered using a third party supplier to provide the private cloud.

Our discussion widened to Amazon AWS and their Virtual Private Cloud (VPC). This is an incredibly powerful private cloud solution that enables the provision of an isolated section of the Amazon AWS cloud. The real power of the Amazon VPC is that it enables the configuration of a network topology that resembles a traditional on premise network with sub networks exposed to Internet access and others totally isolated from Internet access with multiple layers of security including security groups and access control lists. In addition a hardware Virtual Private Network (VPN) connection can be made from the on premise data centres to the VPC resources enabling the Amazon VPC to provide an extension to the corporate data centre that scales on demand.

What is clear is that the power of private cloud computing is not being exploited by many organisations, often due to the misconception that they must be on-premise. To help demystify private cloud computing, Learning Tree have developed a 4 day hands-on course Implementing a Private Cloud Solution that covers in great detail the possibilities that private cloud computing offers together with hands-on exposure to the products from the major vendors. If you are interested in private cloud computing, why not consider attending. If you would like to know more about Amazon AWS and the Amazon VPC why not consider Learning Tree’s 4 day Amazon AWS course.

Chris Czarnecki


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