CIOs understand the concept and even the building blocks of private cloud. But as I attend shows like the Microsoft Management Summit 2011, which happened this week in Las Vegas, there's a certain kind of question I'm still being asked. In one form or another that question continuously revolves around what changes a private cloud will bring to front office business.

My initial response to this is always around business intelligence, and InfoWorld's David Linthicum just wrote a column that describes the cloud-based BI game-changer very well. But another fantastic example of how a private cloud can really save front-office business is in the way it advances disaster recovery. At the MMS show, I was able to sit down with Mitch Kitay and Mike Fink from Terremark, a third-party cloud provider that also specializes in Virtual Disaster Recovery (VDR), and talk about how a highly virtualized private cloud datacenter on your side can radically change the disaster recovery game when extended to a VDR provider on the outside.

Companies like Terremark offer hosted private cloud infrastructure, but when this is used for VDR the service becomes significantly more specialized. For one thing, you're not simply buying dark virtual capacity; you're buying both the capacity and a mirror of your datacenter's network map--literally recreating your datacenter at the software level. You're also purchasing whatever level of data synchronization fits your business needs in the event of a disaster as well as the right access model for your users should they need to access the VDR site. Using Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V, the System Center Management suite and specialized frameworks like the Microsoft Dynamic Data Center Toolkit, Terremark and vendors like them can build a completely virtualized disaster recovery resource for your company that's not only mirrored between your datacenter and theirs, but also across several datacenters within their global presence. The use of System Center also allows for heterogeneous environments, and lets your administrators access their virtual disaster resources directly to maintain integrity.

It can still be a complicated purchasing process, but being able to leverage a virtual infrastructure on both sides of the DR solution is still easier then managing the same resources physically - it's also cheaper, more easily updated and definitely faster to activate if disaster actually strikes. For a little more in-depth discussion with Terremark,  check out their Web site as well as the video interview they conducted with our own TechNet Edge folks at MMS. If you'd like more information on VDR or other private cloud roles, as always feel free to ask questions or give feedback.

Oliver Rist