Enterprises deploying private clouds with a primary focus on cost savings may be missing the mark, according to a recent blog post by Thomas Bittman, a Gartner vice president and distinguished analyst. While reduced costs are likely to follow, private clouds should be pursued in the interest of business requirements.
“Enterprises engaged in private cloud projects to reduce their costs will usually fail to meet objectives,” writes Bittman, “as well as miss the mark on potential business benefits.”
Gartner expects 2012 to be a major year for private clouds, with the technology moving from hype or pilot programs to mainstream deployments. In that rush from A to B, however, it also expects some casualties.
“Staying on top of best practices and learning from early adopters is a must,” Bittman emphasizes.
Below are very simplified version of three very different deployments: each a success and each motivated for more strategic reasons than frugality:
1. Eyes-Road, an e-commerce platform for France’s optical industry, needed a more agile and reliable platform. Its revenue depends on the volume of transactions made by its subscribing members — businesses such as eyeglass makers and contact lens laboratories — and service interruptions could cause members to cancel their SLAs at a direct loss to Eye-Road. A major interruption in service at high-traffic times had previously cost the company 30% of its subscribers.
It needed to guarantee members service availability 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and it needed to be able to scale to handle consistently high-traffic times of day.
Eyes-Road chose a combination of Hyper-V and Microsoft cloud services, and now it promises 99.98 percent availability, can scale as traffic demands, can more quickly address new member processing protocols, and didn’t lose any time in transitioning to the new solution.
2. Turkish bank DenizBank was struggling with its growing success. It had hundreds of stand-alone servers across three data centers, and increasing cooling costs and employee numbers to support it all. Also becoming more sprawling were its server maintenance and software licensing costs. Compounding all of this was the growing popularity of mobile banking and the pressure to have its systems be agile and always available.
DenizBank needed greater control of its infrastructure and costs, as well as to reduce the numbers of servers it was buying, the number of people necessary to run it all, and the amount of time it took to get things done.
It decided to virtualize its servers (with Hyper-V technology), and then configured its data centers as a private cloud environment using System Center 2012. Today, its entire business runs from 64 host servers than can scale to 1,500 virtual machines. It’s been able to save $7 million in server consolidation, avoided $12 million in data center costs, and anticipates a 20% reduction in IT staff costs. Further, services can be deployed faster, critical apps are always available, and — something the company equally celebrates — its more efficient data center has helped it save 3.3 gigawatts of energy and the carbon emissions equivalent of taking 400 cars off the road.
3. In Brazil, Dotz Marketing needed more advanced business intelligence (BI) tools. The company runs a rewards program for a number of clients whose customers receive dotz — awards points that are said to have almost become a second currency in Brazil.
Every second, more than 500 dotz are awarded, and every day Dotz was processing 1.5 million transactions from across 6,000 locations. It also needed a scalable database solution that could better manage these.
It deployed a database solution in a private-cloud environment, opted for a feature called Integration Services to handle the volumes of data being created by those million-plus daily transactions and another called Power View, which enables non-technical users to create rich Bi reports.
While before, it took weeks for reports to be created, as the data had to be gathered and analyzed, they can now be created almost instantly, enabling stores or brands to better plan marketing campaigns and promotions, and to more quickly detect and act on trends. Plus, with less time now spent on report preparation, employees can spend more time on what Dotz calls “strategic pursuits.”
While each of these companies turned to a Microsoft-based solution, it’s the variety of their needs and the possibilities for addressing them that’s being stressed here. Private clouds can be business savers — if they’re deployed with care and in pursuit of business-critical goals.
Christopher Yeich is Director of Strategic Content for Geeknet Media.