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How to ensure the success of your private PaaS project

Dan Koloski | Sept. 23, 2014
Five practical considerations for a private cloud project that can be the basis for larger-scale transformation.

Building a private platform-as-a-service (PaaS) cloud that provides on-demand access to databases, middleware, presentation layer and other services can enable consumer agility, lower the cost to maintain that agility, and increase the utilization of on-premise resources.

That is a trifecta of self-reinforcing value for the business. Agility and cost have traditionally been thought of as tradeoffs in IT, but thanks to standardization, consolidation and automation that is tightly coupled with the technology used to provide cloud services, private PaaS clouds have the potential to eliminate that trade off.

In order to achieve those simultaneous benefits, it's important to think about why you are implementing a private cloud, what workloads make sense for that private cloud, and how you intend to marry the two together. Let's look at five practical considerations for a successful discrete private cloud implementation project that can form the building block of an eventual larger-scale transformation.  

* Suitable workloads. Most IT services are used to either run the business or grow/transform the business. Run the business activities such as ERP, CRM, Finance, HR and similar tend to have stable workloads, usually consisting of small deviations around a moving average, perhaps also with relatively predictable spikes such as seasonal or periodic variations. These activities also have a generally lower rate of change because they are ingrained in organizational processes, and are often centrally-managed for the same reason.

On the other hand, grow/transform activities involve launch of new offerings, big data analysis, cross-channel marketing/selling, and organizational change, all of which have unpredictable workloads and high ongoing rates of change.

Your intuition might tell you that the grow/transform activities are naturals for private PaaS clouds. The agility gained by developers allows them to provide new services on a short timeframe, while also allowing those services to be rapidly decommissioned if circumstances change. It's also fairly obvious that many "run the business" workloads do not need the agility of private clouds, and in fact it may be a high-risk maneuver to place them on a shared services environment.

There is, however, a gray area in times of business change. During these periods of evolution many "run the business" applications are forced to act more like "grow/transform the business" applications -- with high rates of change, variable workloads and the need for rapid provisioning/decommissioning. In those cases, the neat segregation between workloads breaks down. As such, a private PaaS cloud needs to be able to provide services that address the needs of both types of applications. It needs to provide agility... but with the reliability/security/scalability of traditional IT services.

* What services to offer? When it comes to figuring out what services to offer, the answer lies with your users. Help them prioritize their needs and offer as few services as possible.

 

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