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How do you define a private cloud? I was working with customers for many years in professional services. And I found that some relate a private cloud to a product from a specific vendor. This can cause issues. Once I worked with a customer who just built his private cloud. When I first met the head of data center I wanted to establish a positive relationship. So I asked him how their private cloud is doing. I expected a positive answer. But he responded that they stopped the project, because it did not provide sufficient value to the business.

How could this happen? Well, the CTO had asked his team to build a private cloud. He tied the data center manager’s Key Performance Indicator to the implementation of a specific product. But there was no key requirement related to actual business value. The team installed the product, but they did not consider the total solution.

Do not define your private cloud through the products you use. Instead, consider the value it brings to your business. This is the first of a series of four blogs posts where I explore building the best in class private cloud. The elements you need are an infrastructure which is cost efficient and programmable, the best cloud management system, and the right people and processes. In this first article I will lay the ground and summarize the key ingredients. Then the three following articles on infrastructure automation, cloud management platform, and people and processes cover the individual aspects in more detail.

Key Characteristics of a Private Cloud

Tools and products are ways to build a private cloud. But they are not defining. A private cloud is defined by cost efficiency and agility.

Cost efficiency means that the cost to build and operate a private cloud has to be significantly lower than the standard way of running your data center. When you do not get significant cost savings providing your IT services something is wrong.

Agility is even more important. For many businesses time to market is critical. How fast do you deliver your IT services? In many environments it can take hours, days, or even weeks. A private cloud is expected to deliver in minutes.

Elements of the best in class private cloud

SDDC Infrastructure, a Cloud Management Platform and the right People and Processes are required for the best private clouds.

Implementation

A good way to implement a best in class private cloud is using a programmable software defined infrastructure. This facilitates the required automation. You need a cloud management platform. You need to make sure your processes and team structures allow the agile delivery of IT services. Going forward I will explore how VMware Cloud Foundation, VMware vRealize Suite, and the right team structure and processes can help you succeed.

Programmable Software-Defined Infrastructure

Building a private cloud on physical infrastructure is very hard – if not impossible. Especially if your business needs support for both, legacy applications and cloud native applications. This is why the software defined data center (SDDC) sparks so much interest. With virtualized compute (vSphere), storage (vSAN), and networking (NSX) on commodity x86 hardware we have robust and scalable solutions available. VMware Cloud Foundation now natively integrates these three. It includes SDDC Manager which adds automated bring up and lifecycle management to the SDDC. Together, this is the simplest way to get programmable infrastructure with enterprise grade capabilities. It is the ideal base for a private cloud. I will share more details on this in my second article of this series.

Cloud Management Platform

The cloud management platform needs to take care of operations, self-service capabilities, IT service automation, financial transparency and other aspects. Hence vendors have expanded their portfolios, start-ups have entered this space, new paradigms like DevOps have brought up OpenStack and Containers. In my third article of this series I will explain more how the cloud management platform relates to the infrastructure below, and how vRealize Suite covers all aspects because it is built for the cloud.

People and Processes

Success depends on streamlined team structures and processes . So remove manual approval processes and automate infrastructure changes. In the last article of this series I will share some stories on people and processes, and I will propose possible ways out of this dilemma .

Let me know your feedback. What has worked for you? What have you learned building your own private cloud?