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Piecing together a private cloud migration strategy

Before giving IT the green light for a private cloud migration, organizations should take a good look at their existing data center environment.

With the increasing popularity of cloud in the enterprise, it's no surprise that many organizations are moving...

from data center virtualization to private cloud. But enterprises should carefully assess their environments, and consider the trade-offs, before performing a private cloud migration.

Because virtualization and private cloud offer similar benefits, be sure to justify private cloud use before planning a migration. After ensuring that the benefits of private cloud are worth it for your organization, plan the broad approach. This involves determining how much of your existing virtualization framework you will retain. The best strategy is to retain as much as possible, unless you have a serious problem with your virtualization strategy or have little commitment to it.

From there, start exploring the private cloud options that your virtualization vendor offers. Make an inventory of features and, in particular, look at what the vendor provides in terms of deployment and management compatibility with public cloud services.

Remember that the cloud is a "virtualization-plus-management" framework, so if you have to change virtualization products, you'll want to understand just how much work that involves. For example, are your machine images in a form where a new cloud-friendly virtualizer can deploy them? If you have committed a lot of applications to virtual machines, a major technology change might be so difficult and expensive that it's prohibitive. In most cases, a shift from virtualization to private cloud, especially when driven by the need to support multiple data centers, is best accomplished by evolving your existing virtualization strategy into a cloud strategy. Don't change approaches unless you have to.

Ensuring compatibility with public cloud

To make sure your private cloud is compatible with public cloud services, determine which cloud management systems are compatible with your hypervisor, and what each one involves in terms of technology or operational changes. Check for compatibility between each management system and the public cloud management and integration tools you're considering. Always check compatibility with Amazon Web Services, which, as the market leader, plays a part in many hybrid clouds.

If you anticipate a big technological shift in moving from virtualization to private cloud, take a second look and make sure it's worth the move. If your applications are highly dynamic, you have little choice but to make your data center more cloud-like. Otherwise, think about integration as a hybrid approach; workflows that thread in and out of the public cloud can often be linked to the data center through a simple API or directory.

Integration tools are valuable for cloud applications, whether transitioning from virtualization or not, so review your tool options for compatibility with public cloud, virtualization and private cloud stacks and pick the ones that fit most of these environments.

The last step in a private cloud migration is to consider your future in terms of application lifecycle management (ALM). A modern enterprise will meet security, compliance and stability goals through effective ALM strategies. Your current virtualization-based platform has ALM practices and tools in place, so start with these and see what's necessary to evolve them. This exercise will expose any issues in application assurance and governance that you'll face in a cloud transition. By fixing these issues early in your private cloud migration, and using ALM as a barometer to success, you'll help assure your future in the cloud.

Next Steps

Understanding the differences between private cloud and virtual data centers

Is the end of virtualization near?

Don't confuse private cloud with virtualization

This was last published in November 2015

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