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Jun 4, 2013

Private cloud vs. virtualization

Ansley Kilgore

Private Cloud vs VirtualizationWith all the hype around cloud these days, figuring out where cloud fits and where it doesn’t can be challenging. Private cloud and virtualization often get confused with each other, but in fact, virtualization is usually a component of cloud, whether public or private. Let’s consider a couple of real-world examples to illustrate the difference between virtualization and a true private cloud deployment.

Example 1 – Virtualization
An IT department, continually installing/reinstalling new servers, implements a virtualization solution so they can provision infrastructure faster and consolidate servers. They virtualize servers using their hypervisor of choice along with management tools. They upload ISO files into their management software so they can install new OSes into a new virtual machine. They’re connected to the local network in order to manage the virtual machines or the orchestration software used for provisioning. And if they are charging back capacity to their internal customers’ budgets (Marketing, Sales, Engineering, etc.), they’re probably just splitting the cost between each group, or maybe tracking how many virtual machines they deploy for each department.

Is this cloud? Not really. This is known as server consolidation, data center automation, etc. and the solution doesn’t meet all five characteristics of cloud computing:

  1. On-demand self-service (IT still has to provision virtual machines for their internal customers).
  2. Broad, network access (this deployment is only available for internal customers on the network)
  3. Resource pooling (this is where virtualization fits, so yes, this requirement is met)
  4. Rapid elasticity (IT still has to provision VMs individually by installing the OS and software, and they don’t necessarily scale fast)
  5. Measured service (IT is charging costs back to other departments based on traditional budgeting, not based on actual usage)

Example 2 – Private Cloud
A company’s headquarters includes a central IT staff that supports company-wide and departmental applications. They also have several branch offices each with a local IT staff that focuses on break/fix repair of local desktops and network services. The branch offices may occasionally set up a local server and install software at a manager’s request, but they may prefer to ask central IT to provide supported servers or applications from HQ. Central IT is looking to provide better support for their branch offices without hiring more staff, speed up turnaround time when provisioning services for supported applications and even allow quick, easy servers on-demand to their branch offices for local, unsupported applications. So they install their hypervisor of choice, deploy storage in their preferred manner and add some management software. However, in addition to providing ISO files for VM installation, they also prepare some disk images with pre-installed, supported OSes.

The management software allows multiple users of different access levels to perform tasks such as launching virtual machines, installing VMs from supported images or from unsupported ISOs, or rebooting machines or reconfiguring virtual networks between VMs. Now the Marketing department in a branch office can try out some new analytics software by logging into a portal, provisioning a new server, installing the trial software and using it for a few days. If they don’t like it, they turn it off and delete the VM. Engineering may deploy multiple VMs to set up a production application, but also spin up a few additional VMs to use as development and staging environments or continuous integration servers. They no longer have to put in capital budget requests for servers, or search through old supply closets for dusty old desktops to repurpose when needed.

Is this a private cloud? Yes!

This company is still using virtualization, but now they’ve added a level of self-service for branch offices. The service can be accessed using a VPN connection over the Internet or an SSL/TLS web-based portal (broad network access). Branch employees or local IT staff can spin up additional capacity quickly and turn it off just as fast (rapid elasticity). As a result, central IT can now meter actual usage of each service by various departments on a monthly or even hourly basis and charge those departments accordingly.

So, while virtualization tends to be a component and enabler of cloud services, true cloud services provide specific benefits to both the consumers and the IT departments deploying them.

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Ansley Kilgore

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Apr 25, 2013

Hybridize your data center, be agile and reduce IT spend

INAP



Hybridize your data center, be agile and reduce IT spendIf you’re an IT Director at a growing company today, you are probably faced with the challenge of frequent requests for changes at your colocation facility. Now that business is heating up again, the folks in development operations are requesting additional servers, but you’re not sure how to justify the capital expense. While the DevOps team already has lots of projects in their queue and wants to be more nimble, they are likely more concerned with getting immediate access to new servers than with what happens to the equipment afterwards. How do you feed business growth while holding off the capital expense until there’s a solid demand to buy new servers?

One solution to this dilemma is hybridization, where the data center becomes a blend of dedicated and virtualized computing resources. With Internap, you can expand inside the data center using AgileCLOUD over a private, high-performance network called Platform Connect to meet the demand for new servers while avoiding large, up-front costs. (See these capabilites in action at Internap’s New York Metro data center.)

AgileCLOUD is an on-demand service where companies can add and take down servers as they need them, sometimes by the hour. It’s perfect for development teams who need to test new releases in a scalable infrastructure before putting the code into production. Platform Connect acts as a private network where servers communicate at wire speed in either 1GigE or 10GigE speeds. Once the physical network is in place and a colocation cage is connected to the private cloud, development teams can easily add and take down computing resources on demand. Because of these self-service capabilities, the corporate IT group is free to concentrate on more business-critical operations.

There are several advantages to using a service like Platform Connect with AgileCLOUD and colocation resources:

  • It’s private. Communications between real and cloud servers take place over a secure, private network. Internap manages the connections, the network and the security point-to-point.
  • It’s fast. 1GigE and 10GigE speeds are available, which provides very low latency even though servers are in different operating environments in the same datacenter or across two datacenters in the same metropolitan area.
  • It’s cost-effective. It’s easier to spin up new servers as a service until there is a solid demand to buy new servers and install them in your colocation space.
  • It’s scalable. Business and operations can sometimes be unpredictable, so scalability—both up and down—becomes important today.
  • It’s easy. Leaping over human barriers means getting things done quickly. Rather than wait for another individual to set up additional computing infrastructure, this can be done via self-service.
  • It pays for itself. When a growing enterprise has many irons in the fire, the time it takes to simply set up new servers can take an entire day. The time required by key personnel to do this—and again and again to meet the ebb and flow of development teams’ demands—slowly adds up. Soon, you have to hire someone new just to do this amount of set-up. The delays experienced by developers waiting for their servers to be brought online should also be considered.
  • It’s worry free. Management of the network and cloud servers is handled by Internap’s engineers, which frees both IT and DevOps to relax and focus on what’s important.
  • It’s flexible. Once the Platform Connect service is in place and different resources have been interconnected, cloud instances can be added and deleted as needed.

Connecting to the cloud is not new for developers. However, when flexibility, security and performance are required, the number of service providers that can meet all those demands is limited. With colocation services, cloud resources and the ability to hybridize your data center space using Platform Connect, Internap gives your development team the IT resources they need, while keeping your CFO happy at the same time.

Learn more about how Platform Connect can help you support business growth in a cost-effective way.

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INAP

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