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Things to consider before building a private cloud

Published on 21 April 15

There are many benefits to what a private cloud can do for an organization - mobile teams can access the same files as staff in the office, and the environment can be secured to the expectations of the organization. Private clouds also enable shifting workflow and resources to the areas that they are required in the company, so in general it is a win-win for most companies. However, before getting started with a private cloud, it is important to understand what you can and cannot do with the technology.

One of the most important things to consider is how storage will be shared between users of the virtual environment. Depending on how large the needs are of your end users, you will likely either need a very large hard drive array or SAN in place for users to access the required data. As an administrator to the cloud environment, it is key to make sure that you have protection in place in case a drive fails - RAID is good, bare metal backups are better - as well as making sure you have adequate space for your employees. For example, say you wish to allocate 100 GB per users for storage - if you have two 1 TB hard drives in your cloud, you would want to set them up in a RAID 1 configuration, which would cut your storage in half in exchange for the added redundancy, only allowing you to have 10 employees on the cloud. Keep this in mind when scoping equipment for the private environment, though if you are on top of the environment and are using software such as VMWare you can âoversubscribeâ - give space that isnât currently used to new users - you can at least hold off on expanding to new equipment when needed.

Monitoring your network is important as well - you donât want the uplinks on your router to be a bottleneck restricting your speed when your cloud can handle much more processing. Having good uplinks - at least 1 Gigabit Ethernet connections - is a good way to make sure that you arenât running into a bottleneck on the networking side of your hardware. VLANs are another good tool that you can utilize to assist in managing traffic within the cloud environment. Outside of the cloud, you want to have access to multiple ISPs to ensure that your cloud is readily available at all times, since all of these tools are unfortunately useless if there is no way to access the cloud.

Finally, identify the type of cloud that you want to implement for your company. Depending on your organization, setting up your cloud to be an infrastructure base for virtual servers or desktops might make sense, and for others it might make sense to create the private environment as the backbone for a software application. Perhaps you might benefit from mixing these things, but regardless of your end game you want to plan from the beginning to have the right hardware in place to manage the tasks that you have for your staff. If you decide to invest heavily in VMWare to manage your environment, for example, be sure that you understand the tools that you have in place so that VMs that are created and tools that are leveraged can be properly managed and monitored, so that you donât grow a beast that impacts performance for everyone else. Itâs also a great idea to get certified with the vendors you elect to work with; depending on the organization you might receive discounts, priority tech support, and many other perks that will make your life easier.
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