Preston Futrell (Global) - Why Private Clouds Make Sense in a Struggling Economy

In this blog post, Preston Futrell from Reflex Systems discusses the benefits of maximizing private cloud investments to help cope with today's economic environment.

In a sagging economy, executives tighten IT budgets and closely scrutinize new projects. At the same time, CIOs are asked to squeeze as much productivity from existing infrastructure and resources as possible. The recession is slowing IT budget growth and decision-making for many firms. But tough market conditions can also promote forward thinking and pinpoint the most efficient technology solutions.

Today, IT departments are struggling to prove quick ROI for new projects and demonstrate their impact on profit and loss. In many cases, CIOs are asked how their departments can generate revenue for the company and evolve to meet business demands. Private clouds present a compelling solution to these challenges. Once the purview of Fortune 500 companies with large IT budgets, private clouds are now well within the grasp of small and mid-size firms, or those organizations that want to get the most bang for their IT buck.

Migrating shared services and resources to a private cloud can reduce bottom-line costs, and improve flexibility and scalability. Private clouds avoid large capital investment requirements and can be implemented in stages—both pluses when IT budgets are restricted. But buyers beware, some solution providers claiming affordable private clouds might not be telling you the whole story. If you’re not careful, your low-cost private cloud may be missing the silver lining.

Disappointment with Affordable Private Clouds

All too often, affordable private clouds are not what they seem. Organizations are drawn by the promise of an agile, reliable environment without the security and compliance risks posed by public cloud computing. Ultimately, they get the private cloud, but not the rich functionality and management features. Or they get some optimized computing capability, but lose back-end visibility. In both cases, organizations end up spending additional time and money to regain the capabilities they may have had before migrating to the cloud.

Integration and custom development are other hidden costs to avoid. Private clouds should not involve lots of integration and components to achieve the promised functionality. Many organizations think they are getting an out-of-the-box solution only to find it requires custom development. In a recession, high-cost developers are difficult to maintain, or should stay focused on the most critical initiatives.

Truly affordable private clouds are easy to install, manage and maintain. A private cloud comprised of multiple products can introduce an ongoing management burden that adds to the total cost of ownership and detracts from the ROI private clouds should be able to provide.

Finding an affordable private cloud solution

So what’s the secret to finding a truly affordable private cloud solution? There are several questions to ask your prospective solution provider:

•    Are the components of the solution pre-integrated? Do you install just one thing?
•    Is the solution equipped and ready out-of-the-box—with no custom development or scripting required?
•    Does the solution use a flexible, common language to describe all the components of the virtual environment (to make provisioning, visualization, control and management easier)?
•    Does the solution require a cadre of professional services to get it up and running? And to maintain it properly?
•    Does it provide a common management framework for interfacing with all parts of the system?

Effective, affordable private cloud solutions must properly address the areas of provisioning, visibility, security and resource management using a holistic approach. Organizations need a comprehensive, purpose-built virtualization management solution that automates the management of private clouds, reducing complexity and the ratio of administrators to virtualized servers.

A common language to describe the components of the virtual environment
The virtual infrastructure that supports a private cloud can be extremely dynamic and complex. The most affordable and effective solutions for managing private clouds employ a domain-specific language to correlate different types of information. The common language provides the following benefits for private clouds:

•    Enhances flexibility and scalability, even for large environments
•    Streamlines cloud management for greater IT efficiency
•    Provides a single point of integration to speed implementation and ROI
•    Easy to understand and use for those familiar with virtualization

A common language greatly simplifies private cloud computing, helps reduce errors and improves data management.

Maximizing your private cloud investment in a recession

Private clouds can improve service delivery, speed application deployment and provisioning, and decrease IT costs overall. These are powerful benefits in a recession. But many private cloud solutions come with expensive strings attached. Armed with information, you can avoid the pitfalls and achieve an affordable, effective private cloud.

Make sure your private cloud solution is pre-integrated and equipped out of the box. Find out if professional services are required to implement the private cloud and/or maintain it. And research private cloud and virtualization management solutions that use a flexible language to describe and correlate all the components of the virtual environment. This innovation is critical to delivering the private cloud capabilities, benefits and cost savings you seek—without adding to the bottom line.

By Preston Futrell, president and CEO of Reflex Systems