Private Cloud and the SMB
Michael Otey
January 9, 2014

A common misconception about the private cloud is that it’s an enterprise-only technology. There are a lot of reasons for this conclusion. After all, most of the discussion about the private cloud revolves around the dynamic data center, fast application deployment, and high availability (HA) of business critical resources--concerns that are typically in the realm of the enterprise. In addition, and maybe even more important, is the area of resources. Enterprises typically have larger data centers with much more computing power and storage than the small-to-medium sized business (SMB). This means the enterprise almost always has more compute, storage, and technical resources to draw on when they want to build a private cloud than the SMB has. However, that doesn’t mean that SMBs can't use private cloud just like the enterprise does. SMBs can benefit from the dynamic data center with its improved availability and flexibility. In addition, the private cloud promises ease of management and lower operating expenses. What SMB couldn’t use more of that?

One of the main hurdles to the private cloud for the SMB is the expertise that is required to put together the necessary infrastructure. Tier-one OEMs such as HP, working in conjunction with Microsoft, have created several offerings that can quickly put SMBs on the road to the private cloud.

To get started, SMBs can try to use their existing infrastructure to handle the private cloud workload. But since that infrastructure isn't typically designed for the private cloud, the results might not be successful.  An alternative to DIY are referenced architectures (RAs). To get their private cloud solutions up and running quickly, SMBs can look into RAs such as the Microsoft Private Cloud FastTrack and the HP Departmental Private Cloud Reference Architectures. These RAs are like recipes or patterns that HP and Microsoft have worked together to design, to deliver support for different levels of private cloud workloads. Some are appropriate for departments and smaller organizations, whereas others are designed with SMBs in mind. These RAs take the trial-and-error guesswork out of building the private cloud by laying out the server, networking, storage, and software recommendations that are required to construct the private cloud. For instance, the HP Departmental Private Cloud RA specifies HP ProLiant DL360 Gen8 servers, HP P2000 G3 SAS storage, HP Insight Control, HP iLO, Windows Server 2012, and System Center 2012--the entire hardware and software spectrum required by the private cloud. No guesswork.

Of course, having the hardware and the software isn’t the same as having a private cloud. The next phase is planning and executing your SMB cloud implementation.

This process involves identifying your applications and services that would benefit from a cloud implementation. Note: This probably isn’t your file and print services. Instead, this will probably be your business-critical applications--or in cloud lingo, defining your service catalog. Most SMBs have limited IT staff, with one or two people handling everything IT. To get your initial private cloud off the ground, bringing in outside consulting services can make the task easier. The private cloud isn’t just for big business. The private cloud is an SMB technology, too.