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In this related article, we spoke about why private clouds are back. Now that we know why, here are some tips and suggestions that will help you make the most out of your private cloud and help ensure success.

How to make the most of your private cloud

Start at a high level and determine what you need most from your private cloud.

You make compromises when you go to the public cloud. Similarly, when building your private cloud, you have to determine which compromises you are willing to make based on what is most important to your organization. 

One important consideration is building out the capability of a consumption model even though the private cloud is internal. Start with the cost of the service and keep in mind that you may have to build a mechanism to charge business units for what they use.

Pick a primary vendor for software-defined data center (SDDC) first, and then pick the hardware based on what works best with that SDDC provider, with a strong reference architecture.

Many organizations make the mistake of picking an SDDC vendor and then trying to shoehorn the SDDC software into just any hardware, perhaps the hardware they use the most. While it may make sense from the perspective that your organization is already familiar with a particular hardware stack, this approach can be a recipe for disaster when building your private cloud. Not all hardware works well with all SDDC software options, no matter what the vendors may claim. For the best results, make sure the software and hardware combination you choose is as tight and easy to maintain as possible. 

Consider working with a third-party expert.

Climbers looking to scale Mt. Everest hire Sherpas who know everything about the mountain — what path is best in what conditions, when to press on and when to stop, and what to do if something goes wrong. 

Similarly, an expert that has deep and broad expertise across all aspects of cloud, SDDC, hardware, etc., can help you build what will work best for your specific situation, adopt best practices across many industries and organizations and avoid expensive, time-consuming pitfalls. 

Try out your options.

Test drive the technology in a lab, and not just one piece at a time. As an example, WWT's Advanced Technology Center (ATC) provides clients with all leading options already built in any configuration they desire to run in simulations of their environments. You can mix and match to see how different technologies work together in your simulated environment to find the solution that works best for you.

Start small.

Build a stack of technology for a specific use case or application and progress with controlled growth, instead of blanketing the data center before building the operational and organizational model to support it. Start prepping automation and then develop a corresponding operational and organizational structure for it. As you run it and begin to show value, that small stack will expand and pick up momentum until it really will take over your data center.

Build a platform team. 

The traditional silos including network, storage and security do not work for private cloud. You need to integrate all of the silos with a unified mandate, if not structurally. This obviously represents a cultural change but is one that many organizations have already begun to navigate. 

Also, making sure the business gives the IT team feedback on what they are doing will help to keep IT and the business aligned. Many organizations have a steering committee or team developing their private cloud. Consider adding a role that focuses solely on integrating perspectives of business and technical people and be the voice of IT and the business in roadmap sessions, as a technical liaison representing private cloud to the business.

And consider building a feedback loop back to the private cloud team. As you begin to deliver services from the SDDC — and continue to develop more — private cloud will start to take over, and the business will start to evolve.

Continuously share with the business ongoing service costs.

As your private cloud becomes more mature, you should capture and communicate to the business units exactly what the services they use cost the organization even if you have not fully developed a charge-back program or do not have current plans to do so. 

The good news is, at this point, most organizations have learned this consumption model from using public cloud and understand the concept, so pushback will probably be minimal compared to what you may have experienced before people were used to the public cloud model.

Remember that private cloud is a journey.

Even if you consider your organization to be mature with respect to your private cloud capabilities, you'll undoubtedly want to continue to constantly expand and improve moving forward. It's not just about having the baby; it's also about raising the child. 

Be flexible for the future.

Keep in mind that the focus may shift back and forth between public and private cloud as we move forward. For example, it may be easier and better to run artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) in AWS today, but that could change. And you may care more about cost today, but you may want to protect your IP in the future by moving it onsite into your private cloud. In five years, there may be additional public, private and/or hybrid options that will make sense that don't even exist today. Being open to change and building an infrastructure that is flexible and scalable will help ensure your organization will always be ready for whatever comes your way. 

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