Convergence Reshaping the Private Cloud

Convergence Reshaping the Private Cloud
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An examination of converged architecture’s influence on private cloud computing.

Over the last couple of months, we’ve taken an in-depth look at the trend of converged architecture and storage, examining both its rise and applications over the last couple of years. Now, it’s time to look at converged architecture’s influence on one of today’s hottest IT trends: private cloud computing.

Before 2011, private cloud technology was confined to only a relative handful of companies. In its broadest sense, cloud computing denotes the delivery of hosted services over the Internet. However, cloud differs from hosted computing in that cloud models pay only for the resources (often storage capacity or virtual machines) used rather than a flat rate for a bucket of services; cloud services can elastically scale up or down on demand; and the provider handles all management of the cloud. Whereas a public cloud can serve anyone on the Internet, a private cloud will serve only an established group, often on hardware set aside specifically for that customer in order to maximize performance and security.

With the advent of converged architecture, it’s become easier and more affordable to bring private cloud services back into the data center. IT can deliver the same applications, storage, and services to users, but the remote provider is removed from the equation. The simplicity of converged architecture management also helps make this possible, whereas the job of managing multiple systems and cloud platforms was previously too convoluted for most IT shops.

It’s important to remember that opting for a convergence solution in-house does not preclude leveraging public cloud. Many buyers want private cloud infrastructure, particularly for internal-facing applications, but then want to bring developers on board to assist with integrating other apps in a public cloud built on the likes of Amazon, HP, or RackSpace. Such “hybrid cloud” infrastructures still need management and securing, which is where support, either via third-party or improved internal IT, becomes critical. Going hybrid can deliver the best of both worlds, but for a price.

Also keep in mind that, thanks to the flexibility of     cloud management with converged models, businesses can shift resources between private and public clouds on the fly.

“If you buy what we call a converged CloudSystem solution from HP, which is really a private cloud in a box, we provide services to help customers build their own cloud behind their firewall,” says HP’s Terence Ngai, director of cloud solutions, enterprise marketing. “Let’s say you get that going and you start offering cloud services to your internal employees. You keep rolling out services until you hit the capacity of the cloud system that you had provisioned, then you want to tap into, say, HP’s public cloud capacity for three months. You can actually take your application, whatever you have running in the private cloud, and move that workload into the public cloud for three months, like around the holidays. When you’re done accessing that additional capacity, you simply move everything back.”

According to Ngai, customers can create a private cloud with HP’s solutions in as few as 30 days. As discussed in prior articles, this would likely be a base configuration—a “starter” cloud that IT can then scale up as need and expertise dictate. Such smaller scale configurations are also more appropriate for SMBs, a segment that was largely excluded from earlier private cloud options.

William Van Winkle has been a full-time tech writer and author since 1998. He specializes in a wide range of coverage areas, including unified communications, virtualization, Cloud Computing, storage solutions and more. William lives in Hillsboro, Oregon with his wife and 2.4 kids, and—when not scrambling to meet article deadlines—he enjoys reading, travel, and writing fiction. See here for all of William's Tom's IT Pro articles.

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