I have been able to be a part of many private cloud discussions with customers, from the initial strategy and architecture talks to the implementation plans. One thing that has become clear is that regardless the industry and size of the organization, there are technical challenges which needs to be addressed for any implementation. Having been part of few of these, I thought I would share some commonly encountered challenges, along with some insight into each:
Service management: Many private cloud initiatives could start small addressing very basic problems but then in end they are made to address the larger enterprise requirements. Most of the discussion would be around the perceived business benefits and once the private cloud expands beyond a relatively narrow defined path/requirements, organizations must tackle the challenge of effectively managing the various services offered on the cloud and that brings into discussion about Service Catalog and what it can offer. Enterprises need to define what should get in Service Catalog which enables them to manage the services offered effectively.
Integration for governance: It’s easy to have a web front for services we plan to provide in a Cloud which lets user provision easily in cloud or for a geek give a command line tool which can help to do the same. But when we are looking at the enterprise, we cannot just have an access control on the Self Service Portal and assume enterprise would be satisfied. If the existing governance model defines that all request are coming from a Help Desk, and an enterprise decides that is the way forward then it is necessary that the Self Service Access in an Enterprise be integrated with a ticketing system, so when a user requests for a service a notification is sent to notification system stating that the request is raised as the user would have done in a non-cloud environment. Also sometimes an enterprise may need information on how much the instance would be charged to business user for admin to approve it or an approx value of provisioned/to be invoiced amount so that the manager can approve/disapprove in view of expense controls.
Managing Elasticity: Most of the Users assume that Elasticity is a given feature of Cloud, all application would be elastic. I have been asked the question if a rogue application acquire all resources and may Cloud un-operational.
The trick is that unmanaged elasticity may not be what every enterprise wants. Depending on the situation or the service, the enterprise may want to subject elasticity events to a rules engine that decides whether the system really should grow or shrink. Technically a new instance is spawned when a resource (CPU, memory, storage, etc), reaches its limits. But we also need to understand that there may be some back-office application which may not be needed to scale and it does not affect the performance of revenue generating application. To be clear, I do not mean a rules engine that looks at technical factors (CPU, memory, storage, etc.). I am talking about an engine that allows the enterprise to subject elasticity events to business rules. For example, companies should be able to dictate that scaling out a poorly performing back-office application should not adversely affect the performance of a revenue generating application.
Industry Specifics Services: More number of companies have started understand taxonomies of cloud and have moved up the ladder on just understanding, experimentation and beyond working on ROI documents. They are now looking at and understand what services can be OOTB which they can consume from the start. Companies are looking at industry specific “cloudlets” than customizations which are done for them. Banking customers know that all banks need “end of day transaction” service and hence expecting this to be part of a industry specific service provided by the Cloud provider.
One of the largest challenges could be over the years enterprises have moved to ” a virtual Platform” , also deployed a “ticketing system” , “Enterprise Monitoring System ( EMS )” and defined a governance process. The enterprises are expecting that the new Private Cloud integrates with EMS, ticketing system and follows defined governance process. All this brings interesting technical challenges.