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This content is part of the Essential Guide: Virtualization to cloud: Planning, executing a private cloud migration
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Business factors of building a private cloud infrastructure

Though its benefits are well known, private cloud isn't a quick fix for all companies. Ensure it meets your business goals and workload expectations.

Moving to the cloud can mean a number of things: from hosting your server using cloud services such as Amazon or Rackspace to building a private cloud to simply moving your data into cloud storage. Private cloud is an intriguing option for companies that need to maintain control of certain types of IT workloads while taking advantage of the scalability and flexibility of a cloud environment. But is it worth the trouble compared to other cloud options? There are three factors you need to consider before making the move to private cloud:

  • Business goals
  • Application delivery
  • Workloads

Business goals for private cloud. First and foremost, you need to define your reason for moving to the cloud and your goals. Is your current infrastructure struggling with performance issues because of a high number of users and applications with limited bandwidth? Are you unable to run the applications you need? Is your current data center unable to keep up with your company’s growth?

On the surface, building a private cloud can seem like an inexpensive way to solve administrative problems, especially when taking into account open source options. But after factoring in the amount of time it takes to build a private cloud and the support it needs, costs can be much higher than anticipated.

As more modern software is built to run on cloud, the cost-benefit ratio will begin to tip in the favor of private cloud.

It’s critical to factor in these extra costs and all possible setbacks to get a clearer picture of realistic overall costs of a cloud project and how those costs fit with your goals. As more modern software is built to run on cloud, the cost-benefit ratio will begin to tip in the favor of private cloud.

One major business goal with cloud adoption is to create a better user experience, which factors into both application delivery and workload considerations.

Cloud-based application delivery. On-demand application delivery can be a major boon for end users and IT admins. If each employee uses one computer with locally installed software, the payoff for serving applications through a cloud can be great.

In a cloud environment, different licensing rules apply for different applications. With some applications, you only need to purchase enough licenses for the number of users simultaneously using the application. Loading apps from a central app server can result in a huge savings. But licensing varies by application, so check with individual vendors to determine which app is the right match for your environment.  

Running apps from a central location also offers management benefits. With the right tools, applications can even run in remote desktop sessions from mobile devices. While bring your own device (BYOD) policies can complicate an IT environment, they allow employees to access applications when they need to, which could help business workflow and factor into your business' workload considerations.

IT workloads. Cloud computing brings with it operational efficiency, especially if your business' offices are spread out across the country or the world. IT administrators can manage the environment and work from one central location; they don't need to be constantly installing and updating software applications on individual computers throughout the organization.

Cloud computing brings with it operational efficiency, especially if your business' offices are spread out across the country or the world.

Of course, systems still need to be physically distributed to employees, but with today’s lightweight notebook computers, that can often be done through the mail. When working under a cloud environment, IT admins rarely need to travel to remote offices.

Even after these considerations -- business goals, application delivery and workloads -- IT pros still must choose the right cloud provider. Before simply committing to moving to the cloud, you need to research cloud vendors to get a full picture of what they offer and how the services might factor into your organization. For example, not every organization needs the scalability that allocating servers dynamically brings. Other organizations might not want to stream applications.

Each component of cloud brings additional costs and can complicate the transition, so it’s important to decide which services are necessary and which are overkill. Switching to the cloud isn’t a small task, and it might not be for all companies, but the payoffs can be huge if done properly.

Jeff Cogswell is a software engineer with over 20 years of experience in various technologies and platforms ranging from Unix and Linux, Windows, ASP.NET/C# Web development, PHP development and various database technologies. He has authored several books, including C++ All-in-One for Dummiesand runs trainings for Web developers and programmers. Visit his website at 

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