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Technology, people issues can set back your private cloud journey

Choosing the right technology for your private cloud is no doubt crucial — there are incompatibility issues and the threat of creeping complexity — but finding the right people for your cloud team is no less important, said Gartner analyst Alan Waite. In part one of this two-part tip, Waite puts businesses that want a private cloud on a “stairway to heaven.” Here he continues the climb, offering four more best practices for building a private cloud.

Management and availability silos. Many people introduce new software to build a private cloud environment, but that adds another layer of complexity, Waite said. He used the example of adding the open source cloud software platform OpenStack to a data center based on VMware. The problem is, you may use a different hypervisor for OpenStack to create and manage your virtual machines. “Suddenly, I have different management tools, different back-up procedures, different disaster-recovery requirements,” he said. “So these management and availability silos start to cause problems, and it’s something a lot of people don’t think about when they move first in big projects.”

This slide, from Alan Waite’s presentation at Gartner Catalyst Conference 2015 “Private Cloud: Keys to Success,” illustrates Waite’s “stairway to heaven,” tips for success in private cloud projects.

Long-term commitment. Once you implement a cloud management platform, you’re in deep.Your business processes, your orchestration, your automation is all wrapped up in that product and technology,” Waite said. A common problem is when a business signs up with a “cool-looking” cloud management platform by a startup. The trouble begins when the vendor gets acquired or goes out of business.

Cross-cloud compatibility. Most companies will be putting some workloads in the public cloud, Waite said, and you probably will, too. You’ll probably even bring on several public cloud providers — AWS for this, Azure for that. The problem there is most providers require specific management tools. “So how is that environment really going to work? That’s an important consideration,” Waite said.

Skills of the team. Your IT team has all the talent you need, right? Wrong, Waite said. Building and managing a private cloud environment requires specific skill sets that change as your environment changes. “Some people manage this by rotating people from the silos in and out of the cloud team on a six- to 12-month basis. Some people manage it by hiring in or by training in-house,” he said. “The skills that you need are very different in the cloud world than they are in the traditional infrastructure world.”

Making a menu

Waite uses another analogy to describe the private-cloud-building process: opening a restaurant.

“Hopefully, you would know before you open the doors what type of food you were going to be serving, what the theme of the restaurant was going to be, what the menu was,” he said. “But I’ve seen people implement cloud management platforms, software-defined data centers — do everything — and then go, ‘Right, what’s our self-service catalog going to look like?’ That’s the wrong way to do it.”

Another mistake is businesses will also start moving too many workloads to the cloud and choke on the complexity. Don’t do as they do, he said. You’ll end up with unhappy diners — and eventually — an empty restaurant.

Let us know what you think of the story; email Jason Sparapani, features writer, or find him on Twitter @jmsparapani.