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How to reorganize your IT infrastructure to meet the growing demand for private cloud

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(Image credit: Image Credit: Everything Possible / Shutterstock)

This unexpected, tectonic shift toward cloud solutions is going to put an inevitable strain on IT infrastructure. But just because the strain is inevitable, does not mean that businesses can’t mitigate against it through preparation and organization. Let’s take a look at why private cloud solutions are booming in popularity.

As little as one year ago, remote working was regarded by most employees as a perk, and by organizations as a tool to enhance productivity and enable agile working. Who would have thought that by the time we reached the end of 2020, remote working would become an essential tool in every company’s toolkit to keep their business moving? In other words, remote working has gone from being a luxury to a necessity, and businesses are still scrambling to adapt.

According to a recent report from Grand View Research, the global market for private cloud solutions is likely to grow from $30 billion in 2020 to more than $200 billion by 2025. If that sounds like rapid growth, bear in mind that this research was published prior to the pandemic, making it a conservative estimate at best. The real uptick in private cloud solutions is likely to be much, much greater as businesses seek to adapt to this so-called ‘new normal’.

Choosing a private cloud solution

A public cloud solution allows businesses to effectively lease storage, software and computing power from a server that’s shared by other businesses, taking what they need as their business grows, usually with a ‘shared responsibility’ model when it comes to things like data security. It’s ideal for smaller businesses or large organizations that need to remain agile and fluid, or are likely to scale at pace. However, in using a public cloud solution, businesses do relinquish some control. That’s not the case with a private cloud option, which affords businesses all the same advantages, but with greater security, control and ownership over the remote infrastructure and how it’s used. However, private cloud does require more commitment and is therefore more of an investment for businesses, but this shouldn’t be a problem when planning for the long term.

What can go wrong?

Most businesses actually end up with a hybrid solution that couples private cloud with public cloud, extracting the benefits of each for various business use cases. Either way, the need for a cloud solution is clear - businesses need faster, more powerful and, crucially, more agile IT systems than ever before. This is particularly true in a post-Covid landscape, where businesses might end up shifting most - if not all - of their operations online exclusively, at least on a part-time basis.

But when businesses are pushed into a situation where they suddenly need to adapt to remote working, cramming several months or years of preparation into a short period of time, things get missed. Disaster recovery and data protection, things that most businesses owners wouldn’t dream of living without, are suddenly pushed to the back of the queue in favor of productivity-related tools and enablers. There’s a rush to ‘keep things moving’ which leaves many of the foundations for successful remote working overlooked.

Adapting IT infrastructure for the cloud

CIOs know that restructuring is essential to any successful cloud migration. A survey carried out by McKinsey found that more CIOs than ever before are acutely aware that the simple act of moving applications onto the cloud is no longer enough to leverage the benefits of cloud adoption. Instead, they need to look at their infrastructure stack and the way it works, tweaking it to improve cost, speed, flexibility and end-to-end service. But before all of this even begins, there are some key things that businesses need to consider before they proceed with a private cloud solution.

Firstly, they should think about their long-term vision and have a tactical plan in place. As I alluded to earlier, choosing a private cloud solution is a huge investment, and in order to make that investment worthwhile, businesses need to think long-term. Businesses should do a Total Cost of Ownership analysis on their current solution versus the one they’re considering. They should also have an idea of how workload is likely to grow (or reduce) in the future so capacity planning can begin. What resources are they likely to need a year from now? Or five years from now? Ten?

Secondly, companies should keep flexibility at the forefront of their mind. Things change rapidly in businesses, and while a private cloud may well be a huge investment, a little movement can still be catered for. Businesses simply need to ‘overinvest’ and ensure they have enough virtual real-estate to grow into. The private cloud technology any business picks will be around for a few years to come, so ensure it can accommodate your forecasted growth for the period. Only then should businesses start thinking about performance tweaks.

Thirdly, businesses shouldn’t underutilize their private cloud vendors. A big aspect of private cloud deployment is handling the data center, network and procurement, including asset management and all RMA processes within their lifecycle. This can quickly become a real pain point for businesses that aren’t used to handling it, so businesses should turn to their private cloud vendors for advice and support where they need it.

Businesses would do well not to think of cloud migration as just an IT project. It’s a business-wide shift in culture, operations and processes and everybody will need to be on board if it is to be a success. Migrating to private cloud architecture comes with huge benefits, but businesses need to ensure those benefits are sustainable in the long-term. That requires forward planning and forecasting as much as possible. The one silver lining of the current crisis is that at least now, businesses know what to expect and can take action.

Jon Lucas, Co-founder, Hyve Managed Hosting