One of the reasons the term Private Cloud is getting a bad press is that it’s all marketing fluff and isn’t real. In any data centre you are going to be doing thing like..

  • deploying applications
  • fixing applications
  • performance tuning
  • load balancing
  • resource planning
  • decommissioning applications
  • patching and maintenance
  • backup! …and you might also need to do a  restore on occasion
  • audit and compliance
  • bid for more resources from management

This list isn’t much different to what I used to do as a Unix admin back in the nineties, however how this stuff gets done is now totally different; I used to send out patches & fixes on CD out to branch offices, and had to visit these offices to setup TCPIP.  If a server or desktop died rebuilds were tortuous and painful and if that server had an application on then we would have to reinstall on another server and break out the backup. 

Later on we could cluster servers but this was painful and expensive and only a few services, like SQL Server, could failover properly.

Virtualisation changed things a lot, but I feel this was a bit like moving to a bigger house; you pack up everything and get rid of a lot of clutter, however a year after you moved in all the extra space has gone and in some cases there is more mess than there was before.  What matters in a post virtualised world is how much effort is required to manage those virtual machines    This takes me back to another old discipline; systems analysis -   every entity needs a process to create , read update and delete (CRUD) and this should apply to VMs as well as to data stores.  Applying CRUD to VMs means that there should be processes in place to

Create. Use a self service portal or via a service desk request.  Another Private cloud scenario is that they might be created automatically to meet demand when  a service gets busy

Read. Access them and continuously monitor them to ensure they are healthy

Update. Apply fixes and patches to keep them current

Delete. remove them when they aren’t needed any more, the service they are providing might be scaled back or it may be that the whole application has been superseded

None of this is new to the public cloud vendors, Amazon, Google, Microsoft etc. this is what their data centre staff have setup long ago for their online services like Mail, Search, and shopping.  What is new is that the best practices arising from doing this at scale (e.g. one data centre admin per 1-2000 VMs) are being built into software like System Center 2012 so you can operate you own infrastructure as efficiently.  For example patch management is automatic,  a new VM is a mouse click, and you are fixing the problem before the user realises there is on. 

So to quote from that well known group of IT pundits the Fun Boy Three/Banarama “It ain’t what you do , It’s the way that you do it .. and that’s what gets results”.

 

Further reading:

 Microsoft Virtual Academy (which now has a separate module on System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2012).

The System Center 2012 road show touring the country:

  • Birmingham on 17th January (register here).
  • Edinburgh 28th February (register here).