Today, people are integrating storage with virtualization and are beginning to understand the impact of broad virtualization of resources, Iams of Ideas International says. "When we get to the stage where virtualization of servers is the rule rather than the exception and most workloads are virtualized, this is the stage in which virtualization gets woven into the operational process," he says.
When you get to this stage, you have to rethink what this does to your storage processes, Iams says. "For example, how does virtualization affect backup and recovery?"
Iams outlines the following steps for creating a private cloud:
* Virtualize your storage and try to achieve the same flexibility with storage that you already have with virtualized servers.
* Coordinate server virtualization and storage virtualization with management tools such as Windows Azure Storage Management and VMware vStorage.
* Virtualize your network infrastructure and, again, coordinate that with your management tools.
Your infrastructure has been fully virtualized when you have server virtualization, storage virtualization and network virtualization. The crossover point from a virtual infrastructure to private cloud comes when you have the management tools that treat all three types of resources -- servers, storage and networks -- as a single pool that can be allocated on demand.
Of course, all this is from a technology-centric point of view. Iams says that there is a parallel track that relates to the transition from an organizational perspective, including people, processes, governance, policy and funding. One key question: What does a private cloud structure do to budgets and financial flow within an organization?
Public clouds require users to pay only for what they use. Because a private cloud does not provide users with a fixed amount of capacity like they may have had with a traditional data center, chargeback is almost certain to be an integral part of private cloud environments.
Virtualization expert Bernard Golden views chargeback as very important because price is an important rationing mechanism -- and rationing computing resources will be more important in an environment where obtaining resources is as easy as filing out a Web form.
Few, if any, companies go through all of the above steps/stages in parallel. In fact, there is no single "correct" way to transition to a private cloud environment from a traditional data center. A private cloud is in part the logical conclusion of server virtualization where it is extended to storage and networks and then managed with tools that treat servers, storage and networks as a single pool of resources. Automation and orchestration tools are the key to moving from a virtualized infrastructure to a true private cloud.