Building Blocks – Part I: Build your own #PrivateCloud

Part 1 -> The Building Block Approach

As 2011 wraps up and I have a little time at home over the holidays, I’ve been reflecting on some of the customer projects I’ve worked on over the past year. Cloud computing and EMC’s vision for the “Journey to the Private Cloud” have been hot topics this year and of the various projects I’ve worked on this past year, one stands out to me as something that could be used as a blueprint for others who want to deploy their own Private Cloud but may not know how to start.

I have been working with a customer with approximately 10,000 servers that support their business and for all intents had zero virtualization as recent as 2010.  As most customers already know, they thought it would be good to begin virtualizing their environment to drive up asset utilization and flexibility while bringing down costs.  In the past, they’ve experimented with multiple server virtualization solutions (such as VMWare ESX and Microsoft Hyper-V) with limited success and had all but abandoned the idea.  A change in leadership in late 2010 brought a top-down initiative to virtualize wherever possible, but in order to instill confidence in virtualized environments within the various business units, the virtual infrastructure needed to be reliable and performant.

The customer spent the latter half of 2010 looking at their existing physical environment, finding that about 80% of the 10,000 servers were various application, file, and web servers; the remaining 20% being various database servers (mostly MS SQL).  Moving an infrastructure this large into a Private Cloud model would take several years and, further adding to the challenge, the DBA teams were particularly wary about virtualizing their database servers.  That said, the newly formed Virtualization and Cloud team set a goal of virtualizing the approximately 8,000 non-database servers over 36 months, starting out with dev/test and gradually adding production and tier-1 applications until only the database servers remained on physical infrastructure.  They believe that if they prove success with virtualization during this first 3 years, the DBAs will be more willing to begin virtualizing their systems, plus there should be more knowledge and tools in the public domain for managing virtual database instances by then.

To accomplish all of their goals, the customer leveraged some experience that individual team members had gained from prior environments to come up with a Building Block based deployment.  I worked with them to finalize the design and sizing for the each Building Block and throughout the year have helped analyze the performance of the deployed infrastructure to help determine how the Building Blocks can be optimized further.  Through the next several posts, I will explain the Building Block approach, detailing the benefits, some of the considerations, and some thoughts around sizing.  I hope that this information will be useful to others.  The content is mostly vendor agnostic except for some example data that uses EMC specific storage best practices.

Part 1 -> The Building Block Approach

1 thought on “Building Blocks – Part I: Build your own #PrivateCloud

  1. Harinder Kohli


    Its a informative article more on virtualization side than on private cloud. As you didnt specified which cloud Portal EMC is using. Is it vCloud Director, BMC Cloud Lifecycle management or cloupia etc.I think this is the most important part of Private cloud.
    I look forward to your reply and information on cloud portal/back end orchestrian etc.

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