How to Build a Private Cloud: Advice from the Experts Page 2: Page 2

These tips could help you avoid costly mistakes and ensure a successful private cloud deployment.


You Can't Detect What You Can't See: Illuminating the Entire Kill Chain

Posted January 7, 2013

Jeff Vance

Jeff Vance

(Page 2 of 2)

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4. Strive to Meet—Or Beat—the Performance of Your Previous Architecture.

Traditionally, performance-monitoring tools have been relegated to silos—database profilers for DBAs, agent-based application instrumentation for developers, and packet sniffers and NetFlow analyzers for the networking teams. When an app performance problem arises, it's like that old parable about five blind men trying to identify an elephant based on the piece each individual is touching. Visibility is fragmented and incomplete, and thus, the whole of the problem is usually misunderstood.

This siloed approach leaves IT organizations in near-constant fire-fighting mode; they’re reacting to unforeseen problems instead of anticipating and solving them proactively.

It's also an approach that does not translate to cloud-based environments.

Web-based electronic medical records (EMR) provider Practice Fusion wanted to break free of siloed troubleshooting to gain a holistic view of app performance. “We had many point solutions that provided information about discrete components, but nothing that gave us a holistic, correlated view,” said John Hluboky, VP of Technical Operations at Practice Fusion. “We were looking for a platform that could give us comprehensive visibility and foster greater collaboration across teams.”

Practice Fusion eventually adopted the network-based application performance monitoring (APM) solution from ExtraHop.

“We recently used ExtraHop to successfully migrate a portion of our web application from a physical to a virtual infrastructure,” says Hluboky. “This part of the application was customized to run on a particular HP server platform, and previous attempts to virtualize the workload failed, creating race conditions and similar problems."

The Practice Fusion IT team used the ExtraHop system to baseline several key performance indicators, including application response time, and then they spun up a parallel virtual infrastructure to compare performance. "We could prove that performance was the same or slightly better on the virtual infrastructure. Because the HP servers were reaching end-of-life, we would have spent up to $75,000 purchasing new hardware and revalidating the software for the new platform," Hluboky said.

With performance metrics in hand, Practice Fusion was able to avoid that expenditure, and they were able to prove to the rest of the organization that cloud-based performance would live up to their expectations.

5. Figure Out Who Will Pay for What.

One common mistake many companies have made when they deployed their private clouds is overlooking payments and chargebacks. Without a usage accounting system, IT could be on the hook for costs that should come out of the other departments' budgets.

It's important to have cloud accounting tools in place to monitor who is using which computing resources and to bill them appropriately for that usage.

"Clouds make it much easier than ever before for users to consume IT resources. Without accounting, users will invariably over-consume and waste resources, since there is no incentive to do otherwise. Just like there is no such thing as a free lunch, there are no free IT services," said Rob Clyde, CEO of Adaptive Computing.

In a cloud environment, IT faces a classic tragedy of the commons scenario, with IT being the commons. If users aren’t held accountable for the services they consume, your expected private cloud ROI could evaporate quickly.

Jeff Vance is a freelance writer based in Santa Monica, CA, who focuses on emerging technology trends. Connect with him on Twitter @JWVance or by email at jeff@sandstormmedia.net.

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Tags: virtualization, data center, cloud management, private cloud, servers

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