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Straight Answers to Your Customers’ Top 6 Private Cloud Computing Questions

“What do you mean you aren’t using private cloud? Everybody is migrating to the cloud these days.” Questions like this can make your customers cringe, especially if they have questions about what private cloud is but are afraid to ask them for fear of looking stupid.

Here’s where you come in: There really is no such thing as a dumb question – and asking questions about private cloud computing before deciding whether or not to dive in is just good business. As a reputable, reliable cloud computing partner, you can help your customers navigate through questions like this – and find the answers they need to move forward.

Here are the 6 things your customers always wanted to know about private cloud computing … but were afraid to ask. (And simple answers you can provide to get them going in the right direction.)

#1. Why would I choose private cloud computing over the public cloud, anyway?

There are a lot of long-winded, complex answers out there about the differences between the private and public cloud. But unless your applications have specific requirements that a public cloud cannot accommodate, it’s simple: private cloud computing is perfect if you want to leverage the agility and efficiency that the cloud can bring, but who also want the “creature comfort” of having dedicated hardware. That is, you don’t want to share your cloud with anybody else.

#2. Where should my private cloud sit?

If you want a private cloud with its own dedicated hardware, where do you want the hardware to live? You have two choices. You can have your hardware on premise (a private cloud), or you can have it hosted somewhere off site (a hosted private cloud). Either one is perfectly acceptable depending on your needs and preferences.

For instance, if you want to build your cloud yourself and have control over every aspect of it, then put it on premise in your data center. If you would prefer to buy the cloud capabilities you need and let someone else handle all the design, maintenance, and upkeep, then a hosted environment is probably ideal.

#3. What’s the deal with open source cloud technologies?

Open source technology is free to all. And there is plenty of open source cloud software out there. This can be helpful for smaller organizations who can’t afford to pay for a packaged software platform to run their cloud. The downside is that open source code has no formal support system – you have to be willing to rely on user networks and forums for troubleshooting and more. There will also likely be gaps, because nobody is engaged in perfecting the code 100%. Often, a business may start with open source cloud coding, but move to a fully-supported package as they mature.

Some open source software has companies that have adopted and put the R&D into them to close those gaps, then offer support around them.  Red Hat is a great example with their own distributions of Linux (RHEL) and OpenStack. These distributions and support are not free, but offer great platforms to move applications and workloads to for production, with little relative effort if they have been developed on the freeware distributions.

#4. What do I need to budget for with private cloud computing?

This answer to this hinges on whether you want an on premise private cloud or a hosted private cloud. With an on premise private cloud, you will have capital expenses which could include data center space, power, hardware, software, and human assets.

You will also need to plan for your capacity needs today, tomorrow, and down the road. Remember to take periods of high utilization into account if they exist in your business. This could mean thinking about seasonal workloads, or even end-of-month processes if they put additional demands on your infrastructure.

With a hosted private cloud, your budgeting falls predominantly into the operational expense (opex) category: you can pay for the storage, compute, bandwidth, etc. that you need as you need it. You still need to account for periods of peak utilization, but operationalizing the expenses will help to ease the burden.

#5. Can I mix private and public clouds?

You not only can; you probably will. In many ways, hybrid clouds combine the best of both worlds. You can have your strictly private cloud for sensitive data that you want to keep close, or for applications with specific needs that don’t fit within the public cloud’s capabilities. But you can tie that private cloud into a public cloud to handle additional needs such as bursting (for the peak workloads that we mentioned), application development and testing, or disaster recovery.

#6. How do I justify the costs of a private cloud?

Cost justification in a business typically deals in their two main finite resources, time and money.

From a financial perspective, one way to help pay for the costs involved in private cloud computing is to adopt an IT-as-a-service model. Currently, IT is usually perceived as a cost center, not a revenue center. But by moving to an IT-as-a-service model, IT departments can require chargebacks for private cloud computing services rendered – thereby recuperating the cost from the business units that are consuming the services.

For example, Marketing may “purchase” cloud computing resources from IT for a marketing campaign where they need to generate leads and analyze the resulting data.  If this model is used, though, make sure that the interdepartmental charges are just enough to cover the cost of delivering the services. The purpose is to recoup cost, not turn a profit for IT. Otherwise, you can be confident that the first quarter the other business units are in the red, but IT is in the black, it will prompt some provocative dialogue.

If you don’t want to go the chargeback route, you can consider a show-back model for IT. While other departments are not actually billed for services rendered, IT can demonstrate how much it costs to perform various functions, thereby showing the value of their services. Both chargeback and show-back models can help IT justify the costs of private cloud computing to senior management.

From a time perspective, private cloud can reduce processes that have taken weeks or months in the past to hours and days (if not less)!  Having the required infrastructure in place and the cloud orchestration layered on top, infrastructure can be delivered in an extremely agile manner, which will in turn decrease time to market and in many cases time to revenue for your customers’ most critical new products.

Now that you are armed with the answers you need about private cloud, you can help your customers make their move to the cloud with confidence. After all, you are their biggest ally in moving to cloud – and helping them achieve better business outcomes.

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