A Private Cloud Model: How to Move from a Traditional Data Center Infrastructure

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Seeking cost-reductions and more agile IT environments, IT executives in SMBs are considering transitions from traditional data centers to cloud infrastructures.

Seeking cost-reductions and more agile IT environments, IT executives in SMBs are considering transitions from traditional data centers to cloud infrastructures.

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  • 1. A Private Cloud Model: How to Move from a Traditional Data Center Infrastructure Contents Introduction. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 Why are SMBs Implementing Private Clouds? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Creating a Private Cloud Model. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Choosing a Private Cloud Platform . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Choosing a Server/Storage Infrastructure. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 The Dell/VMware Private Cloud Solution. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Brought to you compliments of: Introduction Seeking cost-reductions and more agile IT environments, IT executives in SMBs are considering transitions from traditional data centers to cloud infrastructures. Wary of the risks that come with public clouds, SMBs are looking to private clouds. Moving from a traditional infrastructure to a private cloud involves a technology shift, but planning extends beyond the data center. SMBs have to think about how the change will impact departmental and end-user behavior and requirements. And, to be sure that private cloud investments are indeed paying off as anticipated, SMBs have to determine how success will be measured. Once organizations understand how private clouds can pay off for them, they are able to specify a new technology platform that will support their plans. Together, Dell and VMware offer a platform that enables SMBs to realize the cost-reductions and flexibility of private cloud environment.©2011 Dell and VMware
  • 2. Return to top Why are SMBs Implementing Private Clouds? According to IDC, 2011 is going to be a big year for private cloud adoption (More private cloud adoption expected in 2011, Network World, September 7, 2010). Why? Risk aversion. An Amazon AWS outage in April 2011 took down 70 sites. It took four days to restore services and some clients were predicting that some historical data would never be retrieved. While public clouds remove the overhead associated with delivering and managing messaging, backup and storage, and other services, they introduce a series of risks including poor performance, lost data, and breached security. IT’s responsibility to protect corporate data and support end-user productivity with high-perfor- mance work environments is driving the creation of private clouds — hosted services delivered from inside the corporate firewall. The move is especially sensible for SMBs that are in heavily regulated sectors like finance and health care or that have made investments in data center infrastructure including virtualization and server consolidation. Besides mitigating the risks presented by public clouds, private clouds offer SMBs several important advantages. SMBs can focus on offering the type of cloud services, performance, and security levels that address business strategy and plans for growth without getting lost in the business plan of their public cloud vendor. (SMBs have to be especially wary of a cloud vendor’s ability to tend to their needs while also serving larger clients that generate more revenue.) Implementing their own private cloud also allows IT managers to scale up and down as perfor- mance needs dictate. If services are set to change or end-users are added to the company, IT managers can add or manage bandwidth without end-users noticing any delay or service denigration. On the other hand, should service requirements decrease, IT managers can reduce bandwidth consumption and associated costs. It can take public cloud providers time to adjust performance and bandwidth availability up to new requirements and they have no incentive to quickly reduce service delivery levels and costs. Finally, which public cloud services can include backup and data protection, private cloud implementations give IT managers more options to use or move to technology that most directly addresses company policy. Again, this could be especially important for companies that have to comply with regulated data access and retention policies. Private clouds also offer advantages over traditional data center infrastructures that house shared databases and deliver services from dedicated servers but leave the majority of application installation and data processing to end-user hard drives. IT is able to consolidate traditional servers by implementing virtual servers. (Virtual servers decouple server hardware from the applications, operating systems and data files. Each virtual server is able to run multiple applica- tions or services which can allow consolidation rates as high as 15:1.) Server virtualization saves a tremendous amount of money in datacenter space, power, cooling and management costs. Consumption of services is greatly streamlined through private clouds. No matter where they are or what device they are using, end-users access the same work environment and services. Meanwhile, IT is able to quickly roll-out new applications; the work is done in the data center rather than on the platoons of end-user devices that might be anywhere at any time.2 ©2011 Dell and VMware
  • 3. Return to top Internal chargeback or pay-as-you-go billing systems help IT and department managers understand which user groups are consuming various applications or services. That information is extremely helpful as SMBs plan for strategic IT investments or try to understand how changes to the end-user population will impact IT costs. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, virtual server environments bring high-performance, high- availability infrastructures that include automatic failover, automatic backup, and fast disaster recovery inside SMBs. That gives IT high levels of control over all the services it provides. Creating a Private Cloud Model Any major infrastructure shift benefits from planning and alignment with business strategy. Companies can’t expect to earn returns on their private cloud investment without first under- standing who will use the cloud, what services and applications will be delivered, and how the current data center has to change in order to offer private cloud capabilities. Given the cost-cutting (or cost-containment) and productivity opportunities private clouds offers, many SMBs decide to move fast rather than through slow, steady phases. Choosing a user com- munity (maybe a department or branch location) that can quickly benefit from a private cloud for a first full implementation can give the company and IT group a productive way to experiment and learn. Understanding the changes that will indicate success (fewer help desk calls from mobile users, ability to contain end-user processing power, increased utilization of datacenter servers, etc.) and putting measurement in place will help companies decide if, when, and how to expand private cloud infrastructures. Finding a place to start, determining how and when implementation will happen, and putting success metrics in place requires answers to these questions: 1. What are the core business goals and how can private cloud implementation help realize those goals? An SMB might be looking for ways to contain IT costs over time. It could be that an in- crease in the number of mobile or remote workers is necessitating infrastructure changes that support easy, secure access to work environments and data. Companies in regulated sectors might also be looking for a way to ease access to data and applications while ensuring high levels of security. In an effort to more carefully manage expenditures and budget wisely, IT departments might be looking for accurate ways to charge departments for IT resource usage. All of those business goals would direct IT manager towards private cloud implementation; the ability to deliver applications, services, and associated data from a secure data center infrastructure that simplifies mobile access. Once private cloud implementation is tied to corporate goals, IT is able to create an implementation strategy and choose a model that will pay off. 2. How will private cloud capabilities change end-user behavior and expectations? It can be difficult to anticipate how a private cloud will change end-user and organizational behavior. Typically though, when technology is easier to access and use, it is used more.3 ©2011 Dell and VMware
  • 4. Return to top When managers and end-users understand that it’s easier for IT to roll-out new applications, they ask for new applications. These are good problems to have in that they indicate the utility of the IT investments that have been made. On the other hand, they do force IT to think a bit differently about its ability to deploy new applications and services. Roll-outs and upgrades can be justified on business advantage rather than quickly denied because “IT doesn’t have the time.” Private clouds built on virtual servers also require a mind shift on the part of department managers who are used to thinking of dedicated servers as their own. Concerns about “sharing” servers can be diffused by explaining the performance and reliability of virtual servers — automatic failover, automated backup, etc. Department managers can be informed of their group’s use of applications and services via internal charge back billing. 3. Will current IT resources support private cloud implementation? Private cloud implementation is much easier for organizations that already use virtual servers and where the end-user community has an internet mindset and experience using shared resources like collaboration applications. If virtual servers are not in place, virtual- ization might very well be the first step on the path to a private cloud. IT managers will have to think through their current storage resources and how the I/O support required by a private cloud might require increased capacity. A strong firewall is needed to protect the corporate data and applications that live in the private cloud. It’s very possible that many of the hardware resources that are needed to implement a private cloud are already in place or can be repurposed. It’s equally possible that new investments in servers, storage, and security will be needed. 4. What IT investments are needed to fully implement a private cloud? Private cloud implementation does typically require some investment in high performance servers that deliver the CPU and memory capacities to drive heavily utilized applications and ensure reliable access. Servers have to be equipped with processors that are designed for virtualization and storage devices have to accommodate the I/O requirements of optimally utilized servers and applications. Of course, SMBs will also invest in a private cloud platform that provides the interface and management features the end-user community and IT staff will use on a day-to-day basis. Choosing a Private Cloud Platform In order to access all the advantages of a private cloud — fast provisioning, easy access for mobile users, streamlined IT management, security assurance, internal charge back — SMBs have to take care in selecting a platform. The platform should recognize that standardization quickly earns positive return on investment and allow IT to configure a catalog of applications that users can choose from depending on their department and work responsibilities. Managing a defined catalog makes it much easier to update and provision resources than managing a wide variety of servers and hard drives. Since change is much easier to effect in a private cloud environment, management capabilities should help track changes that are made. Changes might be fairly large and noticeable like mi-4 ©2011 Dell and VMware
  • 5. Return to top grating to a new application or version or significant but hopefully less visible like that shifting of processing power across a server pool. The more the private cloud platform automates, the more agile the datacenter becomes and the more the investment will pay off. Security is also a place where the private cloud platform should ease the IT burden. Rather than implementing security controls by installing agents (which often introduce a new set of vulner- abilities), private cloud platforms should carry knowledge about network-based threats and signal problems so that they can be proactively fixed. Since security requirements vary across user groups of applications, security capabilities should include the ability to apply specific corporate or regulatory policies. Other capabilities like chargeback should be available to the IT departments that need them. Not all SMBs will be ready for chargeback or other less central management capabilities at implementation. It’s advantageous to be able to add them seamlessly as private clouds mature. Choosing a Server/Storage Infrastructure Many servers and storage devices are able to support virtualization and private clouds but only those that are designed for high performance and availability are able to deliver a suitable level of service. It’s critical to examine and compare processor technology that drives servers. Proces- sors that support high consolidation rates and energy efficiency while maintaining performance levels are a key to private cloud success. Management capabilities that are built into hardware combine with private cloud platform capabilities to assure and increase return on investment. Implementing server/storage device combinations that are designed to work and scale together reduces roll-out time and secures the investment over time. The Dell/VMware Private Cloud Solution Dell and VMware combine market leading software, hardware, and services that allow SMBs to quickly build the private clouds they have modeled. Private clouds based on Dell and VMware technology deliver the performance, security, scalability and cost-savings SMBs require. VMware VMware’s vSphere 4 is helping SMBs achieve server consolidation rates as high as 15:1 and boost server utilization rates from 5–15% to 60–80%. That level of consolidation and utilization earns almost immediate return on investment. Central management and performance monitoring and rapid provisioning capability free IT to concentrate on strategic, revenue-generating projects; another way SMBs realize private cloud returns. Automated backup, disaster recovery, and appli- cation availability are critical to data protection and allow IT to perform hardware maintenance with zero downtime. The VMware portfolio also includes chargeback (vCenter Chargeback) capabilities that allow IT managers to model, assign and measure virtual machine costs across departments or other groups. The VShield product family addresses the full array of security concerns by protecting applications from network-based threats and attacks, securing the network perimeter, identifying and eliminating viruses, and simplifying security management.5 ©2011 Dell and VMware
  • 6. Return to top Dell Servers and Storage Dell servers with Intel processors are designed for the virtual environments that support private clouds. Hardware is now designed for virtual environments and virtualization support capabilities are built in. Dell PowerEdge servers with Intel® Xeon processors 5600 series deliver a 15X increase in performance per server over 2-socket, single-core servers and, like VMware vSphere 4, support consolidation rates as high a 15:1. Performance is automatically maximized through Intel® Turbo Boost Technology which enables faster speeds for either specific feeds or heavy workloads. Server consolidation significantly decreases the overall datacenter footprint in terms of space and power consumption, but Intel further optimizes energy efficiency with: • Intel® Intelligent Power Technology that automatically shifts both the CPU and memory to the lowest power state that still delivers the performance required saving on power consumption and heat output which, in turn, reduces cooling requirements. • Automated energy efficiency, which powers down idling cores (those that are not needed to support workloads) to near zero consumption independently of working cores. • Automated lower power states that reduce the power states of the processor, memory, and I/O controllers to the lowest state required. Organizations that need to encrypt data (perhaps to comply with state or federal regulations) benefit from the accelerated secure transaction servers with new AES instructions which are built into Intel Xeon processors 5600 series. Performance and reliability are ensured not only through Intel processors but through other PowerEdge server components. Fans automatically speed up or slow down according to internal temperature. The Smart Chassis design provides air circulations and heat sinks that funnel heat outside the server and away from components. IT managers can set limits on power consumption. Low-voltage memory modules and efficient power supplies also trim energy usage. Reliability is assured through redundant components (no single points of failure). Should a fan, power supply, or other component fail, its backup unit will take over until the broken primary unit is replaced. On top of being redundant, components are hot pluggable; they can be removed and replaced while the server is up and running. Reliability is further enhanced with dual internal SD (Secure Digital) modules for storing virtualization hypervisors. End-users gain the advantage of consistent access to applications and work environments even when maintenance is underway and IT is able to meet service level metrics while reducing end-user help desk calls and complaints. Dell EqualLogic storage devices come in a broad array of configurations and are built to accom- modate virtual server environments. All devices assume database growth and can scale out performance and capacity. SMBs purchase only the storage they need knowing that expansion can easily happen at any time. This prevents over purchasing and under-utilization. It’s also why these devices are considered extremely cost-effective. Like PowerEdge Servers, EqualLogic storage devices have redundant, hot-swappable components (fans, power supplies, disk drives with hot spares). Those features, along with a fault-tolerant, redun- dant controller and enterprise-class RAID protection enable devices to offer 99.999% availability.6 ©2011 Dell and VMware
  • 7. Return to top Dell and VMware Services One of the only characteristics SMBs share is size. Their unique business and private cloud models dictate performance, reliability, security, and scalability requirements. Dell and VMware technicians are able to review current environments to identify resources that will serve the new private cloud and specify new resources that models require. Technicians guide IT managers through available software and hardware options in order to package a platform that fits initial and ongoing private cloud implementations. VMware consultants are also able to provide pre-production environments that run current applications to demonstrate the value of specified products. Both companies offer implementation guidance (on-site or over the phone). Configured and tested before being packaged for shipment, Dell servers and storage devices are ready for “out-of-the-box” implementation. And, on-going support is available to help build out private cloud infrastructures as SMBs grow. Working with service professionals not only opens IT managers to the full array of configuration options but speeds implementation and reduces internal support burdens. Conclusion IT managers inside SMBs are looking to private clouds to gain cost-savings and agility without taking on the risks associated with public clouds. Of course, moving from a traditional infra- structure to a private cloud is a significant undertaking. Success depends on fully understanding business requirements, the groups that will come to depend on the private cloud, how savings will be measured and costs applied, and what new investments are needed. When IT and the organization agree on how and when the private cloud should be implemented, the focus turns to choosing software and hardware vendors that will deliver the required products and services. Dell and VMware are market leaders in private cloud implementations, offering a full-range of products and services that accommodate the current and future needs of any SMB.7 ©2011 Dell and VMware