I am currently working on 2 projects, one is a proof of concept and the other is an on-going, 2-year project by one of our largest Microsoft customers here on the East Coast. In both cases, these customers are implementing what Microsoft and the IT industry is referring to these days as “private cloud”. I’m not sure that I feel that term is 100% a good fit:
First, when people hear “Cloud” today, they immediately think of public Internet-based Cloud Computing. Private Cloud is based on local on-premises infrastructure for the most part. It is a reconfiguring of your data center practices and infrastructure to create an agile, cost-effective factory that can quickly provision and expand or collapse capacity (elastic) based on end-user (customer) demand. Some of the features that would constitute a “private cloud” will be listed below. Self-service, metered billing and virtualized workloads are key to private cloud, too.
Second, it says very little about what it actually does. “Cloud” is an overloaded and ill-defined term in general right now. That being said, I don’t think I have a better term for it yet, so I’m just throwing stones! Typically when talking to IT shops about comprehensive data center efficiencies such as “Private Cloud”, we will discuss “Optimized Infrastructure”. But I think that terminology also falls short of what is being proposed in Private Clouds.
That being said, let me take a few minutes of your time to quickly lay-out what “private cloud” means in the context of this blog, SQL Server databases, and then link you to further reading to provide deep-dive detail into each area:
- Deploy applications and databases as virtual machines
- Utilize commodity hardware and load-balance VMs
- Provide self-service portals to allow end-users (customers) to request new, expanded or smaller databases
- Constantly monitor server & DB usage and sizes and dynamically (automatically) resize and migrate databases to least-used servers
- No idle stand-by-only servers
- Implement workflow to approve user requests and kick-off provisioning scripts
- Automatically provision users & databases from scripting (PowerShell)
This is the Microsoft Self-Service Portal home page, here is the Microsoft Virtual Machine Manager, the SCOM monitoring tools to enable a fully Microsoft-enabled private cloud. Notice this is not a lot of SQL Server database-centric material there. Private Cloud is an infrastructure to enable flexibility and elasticity to your environment.