Posts Tagged ‘ Private Cloud Computing ’

Cloud Appliances for Private Clouds

Cloud computing technologies have the ability to deliver a vast array of important benefits, including the option to leverage compute and storage resources on-demand. Public clouds are the most visible form of this. But, some organizations need important applications and workloads to be operated behind their firewall.

The size of  modern data sets makes it difficult to send over the internet to a public cloud data center. Management most likely has security concerns about data being stored in a facility outside of IT’s control. Often times there is specific hardware, software, or storage requirements that cannot be adhered to in public cloud ecosystems. In response, many organizations are leveraging private clouds.

There are two basic approaches to deployment of a private cloud environment: Build your own or purchase an appliance.

Build Your Own Private Cloud

With organizations operating their own compute, storage and network resources, one option to look into is redeploying these existing instances into a private cloud. Due to the trend of server consolidation, many of these machines may already be operating a virtualization layer. Beginning from this point, deploying infrastructure (IBM, VMWare, etc.) is a logical nest step.

Erecting a private cloud takes more than piling software layers on top of existing resources. Unfortunately, many enterprises may not have the internal resources and expertise to take on this integration workload. This is where a consulting firm like Nubifer can play an integral role in solving these vexing problems.

The Open Source Alternative

With proprietary and trade-marked technology comes the issue of being stuck with a specific vendor. In response, open-source options have evolved. Rackspace CEO Lew Moorman said his company opted to leverage OpenStack to open-source the software behind the cloud computing stack “because we believe a widely adopted, open platform will drive standards.” In the past 6 months, more than 50 companies had joined the community.

Opposition to adopting open source does exist. For example, the OpenStack code base is still very immature, and features such as supporting ‘VMware hypervisors’ and live migration of instances are still in development.

Also, IT folks need to download the releases and install themwith the existing compute, storage and networking infrastructure. This brings up another potential deal breaker: do you burden your internal IT staff with these modifications? Nubifer is here to help…

Cloud Appliances

An evolving method to deploying a private cloud is by leveraging a cloud appliance. A cloud appliance is a rack of computing resources delivered tested and ready to go, with the software versioned and configured. When the appliance is plugged in to power and the network, you’re ready to go.

For example, Nubifer partner, IBM, sells a private cloud appliance. This appliance blends standard hardware components and x86-based servers. By deploying an integrated cloud appliance,  IT is spared the time it would take to build its own. This frees up an organization to enterprise to focus on delivering business value rather than building IT componentry.

IBM’s private cloud offering is an integrated solution combining self-service, orchestration, and automation for heterogeneous resource pools.

Cloud appliances have drawbacks, though. For example,  new equipment is bought as part of the appliance, versus redeploying existing components.Because of this, an organization would probably consider an appliance during a hardware refresh cycle. In addition, there are a limited amount of pre-configured models, leading to a one size does not fit all situation.

Organizations are attempting to focus more on primary business functions, which for most does not include constructing IT infrastructure. All while public clouds are leveraging standardization to lower costs and offer greater levels of agility.

However, many workload requirements inhibit moving data sets to public cloud environments, spawning the deployment of private clouds. However, when an enterprise considers building a private cloud, it’s back in the discussion of building out IT infrastructure.

Cloud appliances offer a potential solution. By pre-integrating all components, IT simply plugs in and turns the power on. And after all, when buying a new car, you would prefer to turn the key and go, versus huddling hour upon hour reading the user manual. Why shouldn’t your private cloud deliver a similar experience?

For more information on private cloud implementation contact a Nubifer representative.

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Strategies for Cloud Security

Security and compliance concerns continue to be the primary barrier to cloud adoption. Despite important security concerns, cloud computing is gaining traction. The issue now is not “will my organization move to the cloud?” Rather, it is “when?”In this article, Nubifer’s Research Team explores requirements for intelligent cloud security strategies. What are the minimum requirements? How do you coalesce traditional security protocols with advanced technologies like data loss prevention and risk management?
Security Concerns Slowing Cloud Adoption

A recent Cloud Trends Report for 2011 discovered that the number of organizations that are immenently planning the move to the cloud almost doubled from 2009 (24%) to 2010 (44%). The study also discovered that issues relating to cloud security is the primary obstacle to migration. In the published report, more than a quarter of those surveyed cited security as their number one concern, with almost 60% including security in their top three.

CA Technologies recently published a study concluding that, despite industry concerns about cloud security, roughly half of those leveraging the cloud do not effectively review vendors for security issues before deployments. The study, ‘Security of Cloud Computing Users: A Study of Practitioners in the US & Europe’, discovered that IT personnel vary with their determination of who is in charge of securing sensitive data and how to go about doing  it.

Constructing a Cloud Security Plan

Despite the ability of many organizations to analyze their own security protocols, there remain many valid cloud security fears. Shifting the burden of protecting important data to an outside vendor is nerve-racking, especially in a vertical that has to abide by regulations such as HIPAA, SOX or PCI DSS.

Risks involving cloud security still have many unknowns, so discovering an over-arching cloud strategy is a requirement. If your organisation does not have a game plan in place, are you ready to adapt and change as requirements evolove?

Your CFO or related exec is your organizations’ largest risk for financial application breach and data loss. The HR director needs to be effectively trained and managed so that ‘lost’ personnel files don’t come back to bite you.  Most importantly, the largest risk of all is the CEO.

Hackers realize this, which is why Chief executives are consistently victims of  “whaling attacks,” such as the well known ‘CEO subpoena phishing scam’.

A robust strategy to protect the most privileged users has the additional benefit of giving your organization an generalized cloud security road-map. Are mobile device risks a concern? Your most senior users desire remote and mobile access. What about data loss? Your senior users have more access to tarrying data points.

When your organization moves from analyzing itself to evaluating potential cloud application and platforms, do not neglect to look into how prevalent cloud services have already become in your IT infrastructure. Are you using Salesforce.com? Basecamp? Taleo? Google Apps?

Super brand cloud/SaaS/PaaS providers, Microsoft, Salesforce.com and Google all have tremendous reputations. So aligning projects leveraging these brands with security protocols should not be time consuming. You’ll want to analyze others to ensure they are legit providers that spend the time to properly secure their IT environments.

Lastly, as software licenses run out and as product upgrades come due, you’ll be in position to effectively begin analyzing the cloud vendors you will want to leverage for your mission-critical operations.

Following that advice will get you started. For more information on formulating a Cloud Security strategy visit Nubifer.com.


Fujitsu to Deliver First Windows Azure Appliance This Summer

The “private cloud” Windows Azure appliances that Microsoft announced a year ago are here. There’s an August, 2011 ship date slated for the first of them.

Fujitsu, one of three OEMs that announced initial support for the Azure Appliance concept, is going to deliver its first Azure Appliance in August 2011, Fujitsu and Microsoft announced on June 7. Fujitsu’s offering is known as the Fujitsu Fujitsu Global Cloud Platform, FGCP/A5, and will be running in Fujitsu’s datacenter in Japan. Fujitsu has been running a trial of the service since April 21, 2011, with 20 companies, according to the press release.

Microsoft officials had no further updates on the whereabouts of appliances from Dell or Hewlett-Packard. Originally, Microsoft told customers to expect Azure Appliances to be in production and available for sale by the end of 2010.

Windows Azure Appliances, as initially described, were designed to be pre-configured containers with between hundreds and thousands of servers running the Windows Azure platform. These containers will be housed, at first, at Dell’s, HP’s and Fujitsu’s datacenters, with Microsoft providing the Azure infrastructure and services for these containers.

In the longer term, Microsoft officials said they expected some large enterprises, like eBay, to house the containers in their own data-centers on site — in other words, to run their own “customer-hosted clouds.” Over time, smaller service providers also will be authorized to make Azure Appliances available to their customers as well.

Fujitsu’s goal with the new Azure-based offering is to sign up 400 enterprise companies, plus 5,000 small/medium enterprise customers and ISVs, in the five-year period following launch, a recent Fujitsu press release noted.

For more information regarding the Azure Appliances, and how they can provide you with a turn-key private cloud solution, visit Nubifer.com/azure.

Five Best Practices for Private Cloud Computing

Industry experts state that private cloud computing enables enterprise IT executives to maximize their organization’s resources and align IT services with business needs while they wait for public cloud computing standards to become defined.

Even for enterprises that like to manage infrastructure and application in-house, building a private cloud is good practice. Frank Gens, senior vice president and chief analyst at IDC, a research firm in Framingham, Massachusetts, says, “With virtualization and the private cloud, CIOs are much closer to that goal of efficient and dynamic IT service delivery and capability.”

Automation minimizes the IT staff’s involvement when the cloud is up and running and is thus a key goal. “The end user is the constituent who is going to leverage the workload for productive work,” says vice president for services and support at Surgient Inc. Brian Wilson. An Infrastructure as a Service provider in Austin, Texas, Surgient Inc. has deployed 150 private clouds for enterprises in the Fortune 500.

According to Wilson, the most important aspect of a private cloud is self-service. With that said, “a self-service portal does not guarantee self-service. Self-service needs to be layered on top of automation services.” CIOs need to consider the service’s design, definition, library and life-cycle. Additionally, the service should integrate applications which report usage for charge-back (preferable with an administrative dashboard and event broadcasting).

A private cloud doesn’t mean a less complex cloud, and as more enterprises launched their private clouds, best practices are beginning to emerge. Here is a list of five best practices for private cloud computing, according to Wilson:

1. Access

  • Evaluate current and planned hardware, hypervisors, network architecture and storage.
  • Understand corporate security standards and existing vendor relationships ad know where you vendors are going (so you don’t buy into dead-end technology).
  • Begin with a defined project and plan for scale, heterogeneity and change. Plan for and document your deployment plans using client-specific use cases and success criteria.

2. Deploy

  • Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer compares the usage curve for cloud computing to a hockey stick, so be prepared for the uptick by establishing a deployment schedule.
  • Ensure that essential content is available in a centralized library.
  • Introduce critical members of the team, finalize use cases and confirm the schedule from the beginning.
  • Dynamically manage IT policies by automating self-service provisioning of applications while remaining flexible and understanding of change.
  • Plan for on-site training.

3. Analyze

  • Review usage trends, resource consumption trends, server use and administration overhead–a step that is skipped often, according to Wilson.
  • Understand the metrics for RIO and TCO and gain executive buy-in with formal ROI evaluations monthly and quarterly.
  • Continue to evaluate your processes, as the cloud is a fundamental shift from traditional processes. Ask yourself if there is a better way to do this throughout the process.

4. Create Reusable Code

  • Plan your service catalog wisely by creating reusable building blocks of virtual machines and services.
  • Take the time to understand your users needs and plan for their experience, as your content is critical.
  • Take the centralized view that is possible with a private cloud; avoid discrete stacks and multiple operating systems.

5. Don’t Forget to Charge Back

  • According to Wilson, very few organizations actually charge back, even though one of the pillars of the cloud is its ability to meter services on an as-needed-basis.
  • Saint Luke’s Health System, for example, operates 11 hospitals and clinics in the Kansas City, Missouri metropolitan area. CIO Debe Gash opted for public cloud computing because of the speed with which it enabled her organization to comply with new HIPPA regulations and says charge-back helps keep IT costs down and prove its mettle.
  • “The bill of IT for each entity is valuable. They can see what they’re using. The visibility into what something actually costs is very helpful to them,” says Gash. The charge-back also shows which systems are driving IT costs, thus Gash can “validate that we’re spending money on what’s strategic to the organization.”

To receive more information regarding best practices for private cloud computing contact a Nubifer.com representative today.