WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO OPERATE A DIY PRIVATE CLOUD?

The decision has been made to implement and deploy a private cloud. Now the debate begins: implement a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) private cloud, or purchase a Commercial, Off The Shelf (COTS) private cloud?

The DIY vs. COTS debate has been part of IT design and planning discussions for decades. Cloud or no cloud, there’s always someone pitching the DIY option as a cost-saving measure, and the arguments both for and against are usually quite predictable. For organizations having the debate as part of a move from traditional IT infrastructure toward private cloud, however, things are different.

Clouds are transformative in a way that, for example, a storage refresh isn’t. While there are certainly a number of storage vendors that would decry this as heresy, replacing a Fibre Channel SAN with a scale-out storage solution probably isn’t going to radically change how an organization does business. But private clouds can and do have significant impacts across entire organizations. This makes the DIY vs. COTS debate rather more important.

Buzzwords Involving Transformation

Clouds fundamentally change who has control over IT. Traditional infrastructures rely on IT teams to provision resources, workloads, applications and services. Clouds don’t – they let the individuals responsible for doing something useful with IT be the ones to provision that IT.

At the risk of buzzword overload, clouds are not only useful as part of the perpetual quest for business agility, they are a key enabler for digital transformation. In other words, they let people get things done more quickly than traditional IT. In turn, this allows those individuals to focus their efforts on automation.

The traditional discussion about refocusing staff efforts due to cloud is that clouds allow IT teams to stop worrying about keeping the infrastructure running, freeing them to do other things. And this is only part of the cloud story. Once others within the organization have figured out how this cloud things works, they too should have some of their day freed up.

With clouds, time is no longer spent chasing IT to provision things. When both non-IT staff and IT staff have some extra time on their hands, the technical knowledge of the IT staff can be put to good use by automating the mundane parts of the rest of the business. This not only frees up even more time, it can replace error-prone manual processes with IT automation that gets it right every time. This is “digital transformation.”

Adaptation

If you started reading this blog having already decided to implement a private cloud, it’s reasonable to ask what the point was of discussing the benefits of private clouds in the previous section. There’s no need to sell you on the idea, since that decision has already been made.

What is important, however, is understanding the scope of the changes that clouds represent. Clouds aren’t just a slightly different way to do IT. They usually represent a major change in how organizations think about and implement IT.

Who’s responsible for which aspect of IT? Can you hold the operations team accountable for inefficient resource usage when they’re no longer the ones provisioning resources? Where do the various support burdens lie, and who’s going to train the non-IT staff in how to take advantage of their newfound self-service capabilities?

Clouds frequently accompany projects aimed at making workloads more composable because composable workloads make clouds more efficient. Clouds bring with them new approaches to IT automation, workload orchestration, backups and disaster recovery. Taking advantage of these capabilities can save organizations a lot of money, but IT teams need to learn how all these new technologies work, and how they can adapt existing business processes, schedules and tools to work with the new environment.

In short, converting from traditional IT infrastructure to a private cloud is a lot – a lot – of work.

Cloudistics Chief Scientist, Jai Menon PhD. in this video interview with Scott Lowe, CEO and Lead Strategist at Actual Tech Media discuss the value and benefits of the Cloudistics Ignite Cloud Platform in reference to application resources. Subjects covered include but are not limited to how the “stack” compares to public cloud and why you would look to our platform over DIY if you want the benefits of public cloud behind your firewall where you control your applications, data, and service delivery.

DIY Private Clouds

It’s already daunting to transform everything about how IT operates: do you really want to add the burden of cobbling together various components to make a private cloud on top of that? Bear in mind also that regardless of whether a DIY or COTS cloud is chosen, the IT team will be charged with setting up the private clouds, while at the same time keeping existing infrastructure operational during the transition period.

Keeping all these plates spinning at the same time is asking a lot, and morale during these sorts of transition events is another consideration. The last thing any organization needs is to have IT team members getting burned out in the middle of such a big project!

DIY clouds add a lot of complexity over COTS clouds. For starters, they bring with them many of the problems that exist with traditional IT. DIY clouds are often an ad-hoc mixture of solutions, and typically involve multiple vendors, each with their own support lifecycle.

Software upgrades for DIY clouds can be difficult. Even when the individual software solutions that make up the DIY cloud are sold by the same vendor, these solutions almost always have their own release, refresh and support cadences. This can make keeping each of the software bits up-to-date and interoperating with one another problematic.

The end result is that IT teams implementing DIY clouds are more likely to have to focus on the underlying infrastructure, which sort of defeats one the primary purposes of implementing a cloud in the first place.

Choosing a DIY approach to cloud is asking IT teams to learn how to drive a car at the same time they’re learning to build it from scratch. This request comes while still the IT teams are still driving the old car and having to teach the passengers how all the accessories work.

Cloud Platform to the Rescue

COTS clouds address the problems of DIY cloud. Of the various flavors of COTS clouds, cloud platforms in particular make life easier. They provide everything necessary to start using a cloud minutes after powering the hardware on.

Cloud platform vendors test the hardware and software as a whole. Everything is tested to work together, both at time of initial deployment, and with every subsequent update. Software updates and hardware capacity expansions are tested, supported, and shipped by the vendor as a unit, and software updates are implemented using rolling updates, so that there’s no downtime required.

Thanks to the extensive testing, adding and retiring hardware is a seamless process with cloud platforms. In short, these platforms remove the need for IT teams to worry about IT infrastructure.

Cloudistics

Cloudistics’ founders and employees understand how much work goes into major changes to an organization’s IT; work not only performed by IT teams, but by all employees asked to learn the new system.

Cloudistics Ignite Cloud Platform makes private clouds simple, easy to deploy and easy to use. It fundamentally changes how IT teams administer their infrastructure, resulting in a quicker time to value.

Don’t try to build the car while driving it: try Cloudistics Ignite Cloud Platform today.

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