The Introduction of Modular Private Clouds
When the financial bubble burst and many companies found their cash flow diminished, many CIO’s were tasked with the very challenging task from the rest of their management team: “Can you do more, with less”? From this need to continually grow your IT infrastructure with less funds came the major IT transformation that we are seeing today: the move to the cloud.
While the cloud provides many IT companies huge financial advantages, there is still a place in IT where there is a need for internal and local services. So CIO’s started looking into ways to take advantage of this new “cloud” infrastructure with the same benefits of keeping everything in house, enter the Private Cloud.
For many IT professionals the “Private Cloud” can mean many different things, so let me just really quickly go through my thoughts. A private cloud is the virtualization of every piece of your IT architecture: servers, networking and storage, such that you can utilize resources on demand and bill users, or in this case business units, for their usage. The initial implementation of these private clouds were still very modular and still create separation in your “IT as a Service” so that IT admins were still spending a lot of time dynamically allocating these resources for users.
What is Converged Infrastructures?
Converged Infrastructures are the next big move into private clouds and basically provide IT in a box: servers, networking, storage and virtualization. The infrastructure comes pre-assembled and ready to use within 15 minutes of plugging it in taking implementation of mission critical applications from months to hours and companies are now able to reallocated IT resources on projects that help create value and revenue for the business instead of on bringing up their systems.
What you get is an Optimized Infrastructure, Rapid Deployment, Lower Costs, Simplified Management and Singular Support. In all, an infrastructure that no longer needs a large IT staff to manage, so you can reallocate those resources to other parts of the business.
While converged infrastructures seem like the optimal IT solution for many companies, they can be very inflexible. Most companies and IT departments have already made investments in technologies that are not included in the converged infrastructure and either still have this technology on the books or have invested in education for their employees that will no longer be applicable. For these companies, moving to a true converged infrastructure can be overly costly and necessitate additional training.
How then are companies able to take advantage of their current infrastructure and skill sets while still receiving the benefits of a converged infrastructure? Many are turning toward Reference Architectures.
What are Reference Architectures?
Reference Architectures provide the major benefits of a truly converged infrastructure where it is a fully qualified, tested, pre-configured system that you know is going to work right out of the box, but with one major benefit: they are based off of the technologies you use in house. And, in many cases these are stood up by the partner community so that they come pre-assembled and ready to deploy.
So which is right for you?
As with all things, it depends. Whether you are content with your current architecture and like having complete control over the management and configuration of your IT environment or love the idea of having a system that has taken the guess work out of IT or just somewhere in between, there are solutions out there to help you migrate your business to the private cloud and start doing more with less.