Posts Tagged 'private cloud'

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, 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

Amazon and Eucalyptus Partnership: A Boost for Hybrid Cloud Development

I was extremely pleased to hear that Amazon and Eucalyptus have partnered to provide formal support of their common API’s. I am certain I will not be the only one who finds this news exciting. Anyone who has attended Learning Tree’s Introduction to Cloud Computing course will have gained hands-on experience of working with a Eucalyptus private cloud. They will have learned the capabilities of this cloud and that Eucalyptus have an API that is compatible with Amazon AWS. This formal support agreement will enable the expansion of the API as well as the formality of the partnership bringing great credibility to the Eucalyptus cloud software.

Many organisations make use – or could make significant use – of on-premise (private) clouds as well as public clouds. Doing so often requires different toolsets and technical skills for efficient working. This partnership will now enable a uniform toolset and skill set to be used to access both the private and public clouds. Because of the wide range of services Amazon AWS provides, a wide range of infrastructure configurations could be rapidly self-provisioned including on-premise Eucalyptus and Amazon private cloud, on-premise Eucalyptus and Amazon public cloud or a mixture of on-premise Eucalyptus and Amazon public and private clouds.

Why would a mixture of on-premise Eucalyptus and Amazon cloud services be required ? There are many reasons for this. For instance, for periods of peak demand, where the on-premise infrastructure may not be sufficient, Amazon could be used to provide the extra required capacity. Another may be that services not provided by Eucalyptus are required but are available on Amazon and so Amazon is used. Some services may be better deployed to an Amazon cloud than on-premise – for security reasons. There are many, many reasons why a hybrid solution may be the preferred solution. What is clear is that this partnership, will, in my opinion, make the decisions easier to make because of the transparent switch from one to the other based on the common API’s and toolsets.

For anybody interested in learning more about Cloud Computing, the different types of cloud configurations, the way they can integrate – or not – consider attending Learning Tree’s Introduction to Cloud Computing course. Here you will gain an exposure to a wide variety of cloud computing products and services and importantly their strengths and weaknesses – all from a vendor neutral view. For Amazon AWS you will get a coverage of the services provided and also for Eucalyptus together with experience of using the toolsets to provision resources from these clouds. For related courses, check out Cloud Computing with Amazon Web Services and Implementing a Private Cloud Solution.

Chris Czarnecki

Private Cloud Course Beta Event

Scheduled for December 6th – 9th of this year is the beta testing event for Learning Tree’s Course 1215: Implementing a Private Cloud Solution: Hands-On.

A “beta” event is where selected individuals attend, free of charge, a Learning Tree course that is currently in development. In return the attendees provide the course development team with valuable feedback that is used to fine-tune the course prior to the first public release. To be considered as a potential beta attendee you must fill out the online questionnaire. Already the response for this course has been overwhelming.

I think this course is going to be really fun. We explore a variety of private cloud scenarios from hosted shared to on-premises dedicated. We hope our attendees take away an appreciation for when and why a private cloud is appropriate. Once we have established that we do get down and dirty with the how. We explore a variety of private cloud options; open-source and proprietary, on-premises and hosted. After attending this class you will be knowledgeable about the various choices you have when implementing a private cloud solution in your organization.

If you don’t get selected to attend the beta you can still attend the first public release. Or you can sign up to attend at an Ed Center and time of your choice. You can see the complete schedule here.

Either way, you have got to come to this class!

Kevin Kell

Private Cloud Course Planning Meeting

Last week we held our planning meeting for our upcoming private cloud course. The main purpose of that meeting was to nail down the content we wish to cover in the four day class. In attendance were the course author, Arnold Villeneuve, the Learning Tree Product Manager and myself as technical editor. We worked long and hard over three days trying to spec out the best course possible. We received quite a bit of feedback via email (and other) that we have attempted to incorporate into the course. Thank you to those who commented.

At the top of the list, predictably, was security. While this private cloud course was not originally intended to be another course on cloud security it is pretty clear that is still very much at the top of people’s minds. This seems to be especially true for people considering a private cloud solution. Therefore we have decided to include an overall emphasis on security in our course treatment of private cloud computing.

We plan to spend a couple of hours on day one discussing the business motivations for private cloud. We expect that there will be attendees who have only partially thought out reasons for wanting to implement a private cloud. You want to build a private cloud and we are here to help you. But, first, let’s talk about why.

Once we have decided that a private cloud is right for us what are the options?

  1. Build your own and host it on-premises
  2. Have a third party host your private cloud

In the course we will consider both of these. We will have hands-on exercises which explore off-premises private cloud solutions that are available from a number of hosters. We will also have the students build their own private clouds using classroom hardware and software.

We now have to make some hard technical decisions. What specific technologies will we cover?

For our on-premises private clouds we plan to feature OpenStack and Microsoft Hyper-V. This decision was made after careful consideration of a number of other options. Our goal was to feature two very different solutions: one open source and one proprietary. We also had some pretty interesting discussions about VMware and virtualization vs. true cloud computing. I can’t wait to hear from the VMware fans! Anyway, in the end, we wanted to stress that this is not a course on any one particular technology but rather it is a course on private cloud computing in general.

The course should be available to the public early next year. Look for it in your brochures and on our website soon!

Kevin Kell

Learning Tree Private Cloud Course: What Do You Think?

We are in the early stages of development for our upcoming course title tentatively named “Building a Private Cloud: Hands-on”. The course will be written by Arnold Villeneuve. Yours truly will be on-board as a technical editor.

That gives me the opportunity to blog about the course as it goes from inception through to first public delivery. So, as the course development unfolds I will write about it here. Any comments that are made will be incorporated into the development process. That gives you, the prospective student, an opportunity to influence what will ultimately become the course. Pretty exciting stuff, eh? I know I am excited!

At this point we are looking over various possible course outlines. We have a pretty good idea about what we want to cover in the course but nothing is yet set in stone. Our course planning meeting next week will solidify things further.

In terms of what to cover, we have many options. Let’s consider a matrix of possibilities:

Service \ Deployment Private Hybrid Community Public
IaaS  X  X    

Table 1. Possibility Matrix

So, since it is a course on private clouds, we have to at least cover the first column, right? I really do believe, however, that most people already equate private clouds with IaaS. Yes, there are definitely use cases for private PaaS (I like the Azure in a box concept) and even private SaaS, but these are less common. I think we should focus on IaaS.

But what about the second column? It is also my belief that most private clouds do not stand alone.  I think we have to cover ways in which private and public clouds can co-exist and collaborate. By definition this is a Hybrid cloud.

I think we should consider both on-premise and off-premise approaches.

I think we should cover at least two very different private cloud offerings.  Presently we are considering OpenStack and Microsoft Hyper-V.

Please tell me what you think!


Eucalyptus Private Cloud – First Impressions

In a recent post I mentioned that I was evaluating the Eucalyptus private cloud for use on Learning Tree’s Cloud Computing course. What I am keen to be able to add to the course is hands-on experience to attendees of provisioning resources from a private cloud and the associated tools for monitoring and controlling cloud usage and utilisation. The Eucalyptus cloud has a set of command line tools, euca2ools, for provisioning resources which have commands and options compatible with Amazon EC2 and S3 services. However, as a first exposure to Eucalyptus I am keen that attendees have a visual tool to work with. Then we can delve deeper with the command line tools.

Harold Spencer, Jr. at Eucalyptus suggested I try the HybridFox plugin for Firefox to access the Eucalyptus cloud. This provides a browser based interface to the cloud where I can configure key pairs, set up security groups, launch instances, attach volumes and much more. This is exactly what I had hoped to use and demonstrate in the course. Five minutes later I had a Linux instance launched in the cloud and had logged in via SSH. Here is the proof of my launched instance ! The green bar indicates a running instance.

I think that configuring and launching a machine instance will make a great short introductory exercise for attendees, following a presentation of the Eucalyptus architecture. The instructor can then log into the Eucalyptus management console and show the vital statistics for each user such as number of instances launched and CPU hours used. With this foundation there is so much more to investigate, demonstrate and have the attendees do.

So in summary, my first impressions of the Eucalyptus private cloud are: wow – this is so neat, well thought out and straightforward to use. I feel truly excited about what we can begin to do with this cloud in the course. It has also got me thinking about the applications Eucalyptus may have in my consulting work. Before I finish, I would just like to say thanks to Steven Fitzgerald and Brady Murray of Eucalyptus for their total patience and support on this project.

Chris Czarnecki

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