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What Does It Take to Build a Resilient Private Cloud?

November 1, 2011

Summary

Some vendors would have you believe that the surest route to a private cloud is to buy a “cloud in a box” solution. But that’s not really practical. You should be able to build your own resilient private cloud without losing the investment you’ve already made in your data centers.
Does it sometimes feel as if you’re engaged in a tug-of-war when it comes to moving business-critical applications to the cloud?
You’re not alone.
According to Symantec’s recent 2011 Virtualization and Evolution to the Cloud Survey, nearly 50% of CEOs and CFOs who are implementing hybrid/private clouds said they are “less than somewhat open” to moving business-critical applications into those environments, primarily because of concerns about high availability.
And yet the same survey found that nearly 70% of IT groups are “somewhat to extremely open” to such a move.
Business executives and IT architects may agree on the promise of the private cloud, but they continue to grapple with the best way to get there. Among the hard questions they’re asking. How do I transform my infrastructure to make it more agile? How do I give it the characteristics of a public cloud without compromising on availability and security?
Continue reading to learn what it takes to build resilient private clouds.

Beware of ‘cloud in a box’ solutions

Some vendors would have you believe that the surest route to a private cloud is to buy a “cloud in a box” solution. But that’s not really practical. It’s expensive. There are data security and service availability risks with such an approach. In addition, vendor lock-in becomes an issue. It’s another siloed resource that needs to be managed differently from the rest of your infrastructure.
Besides, in this economy you can’t afford to “rip and replace” the investments you’ve already made in your heterogeneous data center. Symantec believes you can tap into your existing infrastructure to get the three key benefits of the private cloud:
  • Resilient business services
  • Elastic storage
  • Complete visibility

Resilient business services

Most of today’s business-critical applications are multi-tiered, with distinct Web, application, middleware, and database layers spread across multiple physical and virtual servers and different operating system platforms.
Think of the typical business-critical application. It’s really a business service consisting of several applications forming a multi-tier application stack. The stack will typically include a Web tier, an application tier, and a database tier. Now put the database tier on a Solaris server, the application tier on Linux servers, and the Web tier on virtualized Windows servers and you can appreciate the challenge of ensuring the end-to-end availability of this business service.
So what does availability for such a business service really mean?
It means you should be able to start and stop the service in a coordinated fashion. You should be able to failover, while communicating with the other layers, so that the service remains available without any hiccups. In the event of a disaster, you should have automated recovery of the business service at the disaster recovery site to keep the service available.
Finally, an essential part of availability is managing planned downtime. Nothing is worse than having your site go down for days because you were trying to do routine maintenance. That’s why you need visibility into application dependencies. If you’re doing maintenance on a server, for example, you want to understand which business services will be impacted by that server being down and bring it back up in a timely and controlled manner.

Elastic storage

For any private cloud solution to be viable, the storage infrastructure needs to deliver on the Software as a Service paradigm. What exactly does that mean?
It means virtualizing storage and abstracting storage services from the underlying hardware. It means having complete visibility into the storage that currently exists and how it is used. It means holding users accountable for the storage they consume so that IT can allocate storage costs to the appropriate business unit. And it means automating and streamlining storage operations wherever possible.
IT organizations also need the ability to reduce the storage footprint through deduplication, compression, and thin reclamation for primary storage. Symantec estimates that integrated deduplication and compression can reduce storage requirements up to 80%.¹

Complete visibility

The challenge for IT organizations today is to maintain end-to-end visibility and control of an increasingly multi-platform environment and optimize data center assets to maximize investments. That means having a single management console across physical and virtual servers that helps you visualize, analyze, and control business service availability and heterogeneous storage environments. For example, do you understand what application running in a VM is connected to which storage and how much storage it’s consuming? With a true application to disk view of the entire storage infrastructure, you can take immediate action to reclaim wasted space back to the global storage pool to be used for another application.

Conclusion

In today’s 24x7 global economy, your business-critical applications can’t afford to be off-line for even a small period of time. That’s why you need to maximize the value of your existing infrastructure to do more. Symantec’s Storage and Availability Management products can help you build resilient private clouds and transform that infrastructure for the future.
  • ¹ Symantec NetBackup, Cisco UCS, and VMware vSphere Joint Backup Performance Benchmark. (Based on internal Symantec testing.)

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