As IT professionals begin to look at the various aspects of cloud computing, there is no shortage of options to start evaluating where to get started.
When I’ve spoken to IT pros during the various events at which I’ve delivered presentations, many of them said they have been able to delay or avoid using cloud computing in their IT environments altogether as their lists of projects didn’t explicitly require the use of cloud computing. As time has gone by, not only have the number of cloud computing options increased, but so have the applications and number of requests from project owners and management asking IT to look at either using or incorporating some cloud technologies into their projects.
This crossroads of IT professionals’ careers – where they must move into one or more aspect of cloud computing that they are responsible for – is uncharted territory that adds complexity and risk to a project that, in the past, they were able to engineer out of a project plan.
When the time comes to start to learn one or more aspects of cloud computing as it relates to the IT environment an IT professional supports, it’s important to understand where to start the journey. I’m thus going to outline several places to get started in the areas of public, private, hybrid, and hosted cloud computing options.
Public cloud options are possibly the most well-known cloud computing offerings, but depending on the solution chosen, they offer the least amount of customization for IT professionals and/or the organizations that they support. The large pool of public cloud resources, available on demand, is an appealing offering to quickly replace a workload in the datacenter. The risk for an IT pro with most public cloud offerings is that, depending on the vendor chosen, this offering replaces significant portions of the IT pro’s job responsibilities, potentially at a lower cost due to the massive scale of public cloud offerings.
With respect to leveraging hybrid cloud functionality, where the opportunity exists to leverage both on-premise and public cloud resources, this is an option that is appealing to get the IT pro’s feet wet in public cloud computing without outsourcing an entire workload to the cloud. With the hybrid cloud, the IT pro is able to choose how much or how little of the cloud to include in a solution, but this flexibility doesn’t typically offer the cost savings of a public cloud-only solution.
Hosted server solutions offer the ability to replace the hardware a server is installed on with a virtual server hosted in the cloud, typically at a lower cost than running the same server on-premise. Sometimes hosted server solutions increase server resiliency as these solutions offer standard high availability and disaster recovery options that small to medium-sized businesses can’t often afford. Hosted server offerings do however add an additional site for IT pros to manage, and sometimes don’t offer features like security configurations to on-premise servers, which adds additional administration and server management complexity.
Unlike these cloud computing options, the private cloud offers what may be the best mix of control and customization the IT pro is looking for, while leveraging the flexible architecture of a public cloud solution. With the private cloud, an on-premise pool of resources can be created that are available to both IT pros and application owners on-demand in a self-service fashion. This pool of resources lives on premise under the control of the IT pro, but is assembled using an architecture not unlike a public cloud with IT pro and application owner self-service enabled by default. Through a single pane of glass, the IT pro can deploy and monitor the workload and get deep application insight, but still maintain complete control of the solution.
In addition, the ability to track resource usage back to an individual department for charge-back or “look-back” offers enhanced reporting that may not have existed previously. After understanding this architecture, private cloud offerings seem to be where most IT pros can agree the best benefits of cloud computing options exist.
Looking to get started with the private cloud? Resources to begin to download evaluation software can be found here. A blog post on the resources needed to build a private cloud lab environment can be found on the Slashdot site. Additional information on private cloud offerings can be found here.