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Building a Private Cloud


Private clouds have made inroads within corporate IT, but skepticism still abounds. Whats holding back greater adoption, and how to tip the scales?

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SECURITY

CLOUD

CONFUSION ON PRIVATE CLOUD BENEFITS STILL PREVAILS

CLEARING CLOUD HURDLES

BUILDING A PRIVATE CLOUD: 10 STEPS

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Cloud Champions and Challengers


cloud computing has emerged as a viable model for scalable data center

capacity, automation and reduced infrastructure costs. But challenges have


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emerged as well. Many objectors focus on performance and security as well as fears about IT roles and losing control of the data center reins. Private clouds have also received some criticism, including a lack of application suitability and problematic support. But despite challenges, private clouds have made inroads. Among nearly 500 respondents to TechTargets Cloud Pulse Survey 2012, for example, 33% now use private clouds, and 28% use hybrid clouds. The top two reasons cited are cost (66%) and improving staff productivity (42%). This handbook delves further into the private cloud and provides some brass-tacks advice. In our first article, Lynn Haber explores enterprise reticence about the cloud model as well as ways in which companies can move beyond this hesitation. In the second article, Bob Plankers addresses some of the dangers and the challenges enterprises necessarily encounter. And in our final piece, Plankers offers a 10-step guide that organizations can use to implement a private cloud in their data centers. These models are still maturing. There is little experience on both the vendor side and the user side, according to Jeff Kaplan, Thinkstrategies managing director. But with tight IT budgets and conservative company outlooks, there has never been a better time to at least consider the shift. n
Lauren Horwitz Executive Editor, E-publications, Data Center and Virtualization Media Group lhorwitz@techtarget.com
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Confusion on Private Cloud Benefits Still Prevails


Until recently, private clouds were known best for the confusion they

inspired rather than the benefit they demonstrated. That may finally be
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changing. To grasp how the conversation on private cloud has evolved, lets explore its traditional definition. According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a cloud infrastructure is provisioned for exclusive use by a single organization comprising multiple consumers, (i.e., business units). It may be owned, managed and operated by an organization, a third party, or some combination of these entities, and it may exist on- or offpremises. But this definition is just the beginning for companies interested in transforming their data centers. To promote greater clarity on what a private cloud is, industry experts are taking a new tack by looking at what private cloud is not. Theyre now focusing on the benefits of a private cloud, which is organizations end game, anyway. With less confusion about what a private cloud does, organizations can focus on what needs to be in place to meet goals and how to lay the foundation for a private cloud. John Treadway, a vice president at the consultancy Cloud Technology Partners, notes that three key motivations steer organizations to a private cloud infrastructure: control, transparency and agility. Broadly speaking, that means control over data center resources to do development; transparency to know what costs are and why; and agility to build quickly at a lower cost. What companies really want is to beat the competition, to be faster delivering services to their customers, and to see greater productivity, Treadway said.

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While reducing costs has been bandied about as private clouds top driver, Thomas Bittman, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner Inc., said attitudes about the value of private clouds are shifting. More enterprises now cite speed and agility as the primary benefits of private clouds. To Bittman, this not only signals maturity in thinking but also a better understanding of business requirements. Thats good news because in a third-quarter 2012 Forrester Research Inc. survey, 46% of respondents reported that, over the next 12 months, building a private cloud is a priority.
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MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUND

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If ever there were a time to get private clouds right, its now, but organizations remain confused about the constituent elements of a cloud. A lot of organizations claim to have a private cloud but what they really have is traditional virtualization with some level of automation, said Lauren Nelson, an analyst at Forrester Research. Theres a resounding chorus of agreement among industry analysts that there is a disconnect between a true private cloud and what many organizations believe to be a private cloud. At a recent Gartner Symposium, Bittman addressed the five misconceptions about private cloud and the corresponding realities. Here are some key points:
Private

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cloud is not virtualization. Server and infrastructure virtualization

are important foundations for private cloud computing, but hardly the beall and end-all of private clouds. Instead, the model often uses some form of virtualization to create a cloud service.
Private

clouds are not just about lower costs. Cost reduction can be intro-

duced via improved allocation of resources or eliminating common, rote tasks for standard offerings. But the real benefits are self-service, automation, metering for usage as well as agility, speed in development, time to market and business-unit experimentation.

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Private

clouds are not necessarily on-premises. Instead, private cloud

computing is defined by privacy, not location, ownership or management responsibility.


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cloud is not limited to Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). clouds are not always going to be private. Over time, they will

evolve to enable hybrid cloud computing. Understanding what a private cloud isnt vital to recognizing the reality of where many organizations are today with private clouds, then answering critHome

ical questions about the goals in implementing the model and putting a roadmap in place to get there.
CONTROL YOUR DESTINY

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Private cloud computing makes sense for some, but not all, organizations.
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Companies with security and privacy concerns, for exampleparticularly as they relate to sensitive workloads or government regulatory and/or compliance requirementsare candidates for private clouds. At the same time, theres an assumption that large organizations with a reasonably sized IT estate, many existing business applications and the need to routinely build new applications are suited for private clouds. For these organizations, private clouds can reduce costs, improve efficiency, and enable a higher-quality delivery of services thanks to automation and repeatability. Users get quicker delivery, more productivity and more agility, Treadway said. Today, true private cloud deployments are hard to come by. However, many companies have started the journey and most can benefit from lessons learnedboth the casualties and the successes.

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Private cloud computing makes sense for some, but not all, organizations. Companies with security and privacy concerns are candidates.

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Theres little experience on both the vendor side and the user side, said Jeff Kaplan, Thinkstrategies managing director, adding that best practices are still emerging. Getting help from experts in the trenches is essential to help organizations understand the vendor landscape, get better educated on private clouds and position themselves to reap the many benefits of private cloud computing. The first step is for organizations to recognize that, even if they are highly virtualized, theres much more work that needs to be done to approach a private cloud computing model.
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And while theres more work, there are also more options, especially compared with several years ago, when companies believed they had to build a private cloud from scratch. Companies can use one of several products available today as a jumping off point before they move forward with integration, security, right-sizing, management and process redesign. And, according to Forresters Nelson, the groundwork for private clouds includes various tasks: virtualization maturity, consolidating resources, application rationalization, evaluating an outsourcing application strategy that looks at the entire organization, application modernization and automating processes. Companies have to address infrastructure maturity or virtualization, including consolidation and automation and application maturity, including rationalization, right-sourcing and modernization, she said. Important elements to get to a private cloud include starting with a core software strategy or cloud stack, from metal to hypervisor to portal. Treadway says that 30-plus products are available, though only six to eight are relevant. The more robust products offer functionality to get started out of the box. Another key layer is putting a portal in front of the cloud stack. Experts advise against getting locked into any single vendors portal, which is often included with existing tools. In fact, industry experts are unanimous when it comes taking advice from vendors. Do it, but take it with a grain of salt, Kaplan advised.

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The key thing, say consultants, is not to get locked into a single vendors vision. Companies can have more than one private cloud. More importantly, companies need an open portal to get to a hybrid cloud model. Another step is to put a cloud management framework in place to orchestrate cloud management, governance, usage, security and control. Virtualization, automation tools, management controls for greater visibility, provisioning and self-provisioning capabilities, all come with technology and vendor alternatives.
HYBRID CLOUDS

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Taking a long-term view of cloud computing, industry watchers see private clouds as a way station, not the destination, on the cloud journey. There will be a variety of environments to meet IT requirements, said Nelson, who suggests thinking of hybrid as private plus something else. That may include legacy systems, a dedicated environment for some applications, traditional virtualization and a separate private cloud, or the two combined, public and private cloud or external private cloud with a hosted option. How the hybrid environment will play out will vary among organizations based on any companys applications, security requirements, needs for dedicated resources and SaaS possibilities. As public and private cloud computing models mature and prove their value, successful organizations will find a mix of the two resources. Companies serious about cloud computing are looking ahead, even though hybrid clouds are many years away. Before we get to hybrid clouds, companies have a lot of heavy lifting to do, Treadway said. Lynn Haber

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Clearing Private Cloud Hurdles


Cloud computing has changed the way IT resources are designed and

managed. Siloed IT departments have to adjust their business-as-usual


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approach. As companies seek faster, better and cheaper IT resources, hybrid clouds seem like a natural fit. They allow IT to shift workloads between internal data centers and a commercial public cloud provider during peak periods. For growing businesses with variable needs, cloud computing can reduce costs while boosting project flexibility and time to market. But the cloud still raises IT hackles. Managers worry that clouds violate traditional departmental domains and practices, and organizational inertia can run deep. A cloud also imposes new demands on IT infrastructure, from networks to servers, and can strain the relationships between their respective teams. And cloud pricing and licensing continue to pose serious challenges that further entrench divisions and cut into cost savings. Still, cloud computing has begun to gain traction in corners of the enterprise. So how can departments bogged down by inertia take the next step? They can start by considering some of the factors that block many cloud implementations, including their own long-standing silos. Lets look at each of these cloud blockers, starting with the network challenges and security fears.
NETWORKING OBSTACLES IN THE CLOUD

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Cloud computing offers IT far greater flexibility in how it delivers services. When a new project crops up or a workloads demands shift suddenly, IT departments can move the work to a commercial provider or move resources internally until the peak period elapses.

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But that flexibility can also pose networking challenges. By moving applications off-site, companies need good network connectivity between a data center site and a public cloud provider so users dont experience performance degradation. Good connectivity comes in two forms: necessary bandwidth and low latency. Most businesses have sufficient network connections to support email, Web browsing and general company communication. Adding traffic to the connection between an external cloud provider and a company requires planning to protect the application or the original uses of the network connection. A typical data center networkparticularly one
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with gigabit networkshas a lot of bandwidth and low latency. IT managers can also monitor internal network equipment usage to diagnose problems. But when you move an application off-site to a cloud provider, it is no longer part of your data center network. To access the application, your network traffic must take a longer route across smaller network links and links with greater latency. My PC, for example, uses three network segments, or hops, to reach my com-

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Moving appli cations off-site requires companies to have good network connectivity.

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panys HR application and has a network latency of 0.3 milliseconds. Moving that application to a commercial cloud provider creates an additional delay of about 20 milliseconds to a server in a commercial cloud. It travels across network segments of unknown size and that cannot be monitored by internal IT staff. Some applications suffer greatly when network latency is introduced, especially if parts of an application, such as a database, are in-house and parts are in a commercial cloud. Most commercial cloud environments charge for network use. Charges of 10 cents or 15 cents per gigabyte of traffic arent exorbitant. But charges start to add up, especially when most organizations take their own fast network speeds and flat-rate pricing for granted. When you consider backups for your cloudbased apps and data refreshes, new deployments and other day-to-day operations with your applications, you may spend money in unanticipated ways.

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CLOUD SECURITY: USE WHAT YOU KNOW

Security always needs to be part of a cloud implementation plan. Private cloud challenges are similar to those in existing virtualization projects, though, so most enterprises shouldnt be surprised by the requirements. But hybrid and public cloud models change security measures somewhat. Private clouds can draw on your IT groups traditional security models, using classic network segmentation techniques, such as virtual local area networks, firewalling, and intrusion detection and prevention systems. Newer cloud technologies, such as VMwares vCloud Director, propose new ways of
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implementing firewalling and network isolation. While they aim to improve an IT staffs efficiency, these new techniques can run afoul of existing security and networking practices that establish policies, procedures and methodologies for securing environments. Getting these teams involved early in the process of developing a cloud is key for proper adoption. Hybrid clouds present particular data access challenges. In response, some cloud deployments adopt fairly paranoid stances toward commercial clouds. They generally assume that you cannot trust the security of the network between an internal data center and a commercial cloud host, nor can you trust the security of the network between two virtual machines in a commercial cloud. They also often take the stance that you cannot trust the security of a clouds underlying storage or storage network. There are solutions to these problems, which are sometimes included in a cloud product or underlying virtualization technology. VMware, for example, offers virtual private networking capabilities as part of its vShield suite of products. The VMsafe application programming interface and other products, such as vShield or Altor Networks virtual security suite, can achieve virtual firewalling. But these products add cost, staff training and support time to a hybrid or public cloud deployment. So you need to consider whether you have personally identifiable information or just data that is crucial to your business, such as a customer list. Different kinds of data dictate greater or lesser degrees of security. Bob Plankers

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Ten Steps in Building a Private Cloud


Building a private cloud takes time and is an iterative process. That pro-

cess starts with understanding stakeholder expectations and defining the


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cloud in your environment, then building on the model youve created. In what follows, we outline the 10 steps youll need to plan for, build and maintain a private cloud.
1. DETERMINE CLOUD GOALS

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The journey to the cloud is a majorand, in some cases, disruptivetechnology trend. To start, your organization needs to be realistic about its goals. Many organizations find themselves looking for a cloud technology only after theyve realized the promises of virtualization, including server consolidation and savings on power and hardware. Others may want to take virtualization to the next level by introducing more standardization and automation. But fewer organizations are ready to tackle the more difficult problems, such as silos, duplication of services, security and management. These problems are rarely technical in nature but can run roughshod over organizational boundaries and long-standing political domains. And there are many misconceptions about the term cloud, usually because there are so many definitions of it. One common misconception is that private clouds are completely based on virtualization. A private cloud can also just mean shared infrastructure. Take, for example, Googles Gmail or Microsofts SkyDrive. Both public cloud services dont rely much on virtualization, but rather on massive amounts of physical hardware. Similarly, in a private cloud, a shared service may replace many duplicate services, and the use of virtualization is simply part of a services implementation.

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2. HAVE REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS

There cannot be true self-service IT within your organization. IT departments have spent years developing processes and procedures to create and manage servers. For example, allowing anyone to provision a server or service without approval mechanisms in a production IT environment is a quick path to sprawl and outages. But much of the provisioning process can be automated and standardized through the use of workflow tools and approval mechanisms.
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Expect the journey to center on changes to staff roles, as processes are torn down and recreated, routine tasks automated, and standardization championed. An IT department that is unresponsive to users needs may not be in the right place to start with the cloud. Similarly, an IT department that is overworked may not have enough time to pursue cloud technologies. It is important that management prioritizes IT work and backs up the IT department in the face of complaints given the new focus on cloud computing. It takes up-front investment in automation and standardization to save time on manual tasks down the road. And all levels of management need to support the transition to the cloud.

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3. UNDERSTAND WORKLOADS AND SERVICES

Working toward a private cloud model is difficult when you dont understand the services your organization relies on. Documentation is key; without it the relationships between systems are hard to decipher, service-level agreements are unknown and its easy to make false assumptions. User needs should also be documented so that new cloud services can be built to meet them. This is especially true when centralizing duplicate services. Documentation also leads to standardization, since a standard that does not account for all needs and system design requirements will quickly develop exceptions. Performance information is also crucial to move toward shared infrastructure. A year or more of historical performance data can help determine capacity needs and system sizing.

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4. GET ON THE PATH TO VIRTUALIZATION

While it isnt required for a private cloud to be based on virtualization, it is the common model. Virtualization also usually drives certain organizational behavior. For example, most virtualization software requires centralized storage. That same centralized storage will be a building block for a private cloud, so the knowledge about a virtualization deployment is beneficial to private clouds. Likewise, virtualization usually disrupts data center networksat least by turning static traffic patterns into dynamic ones. The move toward shared
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computing models and cloud-based computing furthers that trend while increasing the reliance on networks, and often boosting bandwidth needs.
5. UNDERSTAND STANDARDIZATION AND AUTOMATION

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incredibly difficult to achieve. For example, with standards for operating systems and server builds, you can make assumptions about the location of files, sizes of file systems and authentication mechanisms. Based on these assumptions, you can script the installation of application software and middleware. This makes an installation easily repeatable, which benefits a variety of tasks, from server deployment to disaster recovery. Standardization can be difficult for inexperienced organizations, but once a company has practice, the time savings is enormous. For an organization that has no standards for OSes or build processes, there are usually two consequences: An incredible amount of staff time is spent on routine tasks on these servers; and many routine tasks, like patching security vulnerabilities, are skipped because they are too difficult and unpredictable. Standardizing on one or two operating systems and automating build and application deployment processes yields significant IT productivity gains. Once youve automated much of your environment, you can deliver selfservice portals and service catalogs. Not only does this save time by focusing on how to best support and monitor an application or service, it also gives application administrators and developers a consistent, repeatable platform

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on which to build. IT operations staff can also build procedures for handling incidents and monitoring system alarms.
6. CONSIDER CHARGEBACK AND SHOWBACK

As clouds form, organizations must keep track of resource usage so that resources are consumed fairly and organizational priorities are accounted for. A chargeback model is one of the most powerful, yet most resisted, forms of resource accounting. The model requires inventorying every server and application as it moves to the cloud. But that process is beneficial by reducHome

ing waste, curtailing server sprawl and encouraging administrators to rightsize virtual machines. Working creatively with management and the CFO can yield solutions to budgetary issues, and the chargeback process should be as unobtrusive as possible. Organizations that cannot launch a cloud with chargeback can usually do showback, where reports are generated for management to show which resources are being used. Showback is useful in the initial stages of a private cloud to set budgets and expectations. Many organizations that employ showback techniques assign a dollar amount to each departments resource use but send the bill to the customer. It is a powerful way to track and conserve resources, but the method can be disruptive.
7. KEEP EVERYTHING IN ITS PROPER PLACE

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As you move toward a cloud, its worth reconsidering your approaches to security. While cloud computing doesnt require virtualization, virtualization opens the door to features like inter-VM firewalling and intrusion detection, agent-free antivirus scanning, and more via application programming interfaces like VMwares VMsafe. While many clouds are built with traditional approaches to security, new approaches can save time and money and add flexibility. For example, inter-VM firewalling and intrusion detection may replace complex private VLAN setups. Disaster recovery (DR) also comes into play, and there are many options for maintaining off-site copies of VMs. Replication of storage at a virtual

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machine level frees storage administrators from maintaining costly arraybased replication licenses, WAN accelerators and Fibre Channel-to-IP converters. Replication can also be done to disparate arrays, which usually isnt possible with array-based options. Recovery point objectives (RPOs) and recovery time objectives (RTOs) can be easily managed at the VM level with newer cloud-oriented options, too. Some products also manage failover and failback and automatically apply DR rules to new VMs.
8. PRIORITIZE MONITORING
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Centralizing resources in a private cloud has many benefits, but it doesnt make performance monitoring any easier. Relocation of services often means more dependence on network performance, which means that monitoring tools need to be all-encompassing. An increasing number of performance-monitoring tools provide a single interface to troubleshoot system, storage and network problems. Some monitoring tools also offer features that can aid support efforts, where end users, developers and application admins can trigger high-resolution recording of network, storage and VM performance data as a problem occurs. This is especially useful for intermittent problems and situations that do not trigger other performance alarms and can rapidly pinpoint a problems root cause. Application monitoring is often greatly improved through a move to a private cloud, mostly due to the improved documentation of requirements and needs and the inventory process that organizations use to prepare for consolidation. With the use of virtualization, there are also high-availability and fault-tolerance options, both at the virtual machine level as well as through application high availability within a VM.
9. PERFORM FUTURE-PROOFING

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Private clouds and technologies like virtualization decouple organizations from many of the problems that IT groups have tried to solve for years. Centralizing, standardizing, and automating workloads and workload management frees time to keep an eye on new technologies, which in turn

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reduces reliance on external consultants and builds knowledge and expertise in-house. With the right team in place, staff with open minds about where and how organizational goals can be achieved can reshape IT, making it more predictable and easier to support. That will ultimately free staff time for tasks that move the organization forward instead of just trying to keep up.
10. REMEMBER, WERE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER

One of the biggest changes an organization makes on the path to the cloud is
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internal cooperation. You cant realize cost or time savings when individual departments or divisions implement on their own. Retaining flexibility and meeting the needs of all aspects of your organization are crucial as you centralize into a private cloud. All parties need to be honest about their needs, have good documentation and work iteratively. There needs to be room for adjustment. Siloes within IT need to disappear, too. Applications in the cloud often depend on networking, as applications are centralized into nonlocal data centers. Storage is crucial to virtualization, and decisions made by storage administrators have long-lasting effects on service delivery, service-level agreements, costs and time. Systems have many options that can be tuned to reduce network and storage loads. An organizations network, storage and system administrators often become territorial about their work. The most effective implementations of virtualization and private clouds are supported by teams with members from each of these areas, working together for the benefit of the organization. The move to the cloud also brings automation and standardization, which may be difficult for staff members whose jobs are composed primarily of tasks that can be automated. IT staff should understand that the move gives them more important and interesting work. Let staff know that the IT landscape has changed, your organization is changing with it, and experience with cloud computing is a marketable skill. Bob Plankers

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ABOUT THE AUTHORS

LYNN HABER reports on business and

technology from Norwell, Mass.


BOB PLANKERS is a virtualization and

cloud architect at a major Midwestern university. He is also the author of The Lone Sysadmin blog.

Building a Private Cloud is a SearchCloudComputing.com e-publication. Margie Semilof Editorial Director Lauren Horwitz Executive Editor Phil Sweeney Managing Editor Eugene Demaitre Associate Managing Editor

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Laura Aberle Associate Features Editor Linda Koury Director of Online Design Rebecca Kitchens Publisher rkitchens@techtarget.com TechTarget 275 Grove Street, Newton, MA 02466 www.techtarget.com
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