The road to a private cloud

Server virtualization is about more than mobility and efficiency — it can also help agencies succeed in the quest for a secure, private cloud.

Nathan Coutinho

Nathan Coutinho is an enterprise solutions manager at CDW-G.

Agencies recognize that server virtualization is an important step toward an increasingly mobile and efficient government. But what is the main objective, and how do agencies get there?

The ultimate goal for agencies is not server virtualization itself but rather a private cloud environment from which employees can access applications efficiently and securely.

The private cloud model gives an agency the autonomy it needs to control its IT infrastructure --to oversee shared information, protect sensitive data, and manage virtualization, storage and data centers according to its specific needs. Although the quest for a private cloud does not always follow a clear path, it always includes a solid foundation.

The following elements can help create the foundation for agencies to build a private cloud.

  • IT governance. As the backbone of an agency's IT strategy, IT governance is a core component of a private cloud. It is the process by which federal managers identify their IT goals, create strategies for achieving them, develop systems for tracking their progress and report key performance metrics.
  • Server virtualization. Server virtualization is essential for any successful private cloud program because it allows users to maximize physical resources in the most efficient way possible. Through virtualization, agencies can increase server use, centralize control of all desktop operating systems and applications, reduce power and cooling requirements, better control virus and malware outbreaks, simplify management of updates for operating systems and applications, reduce device theft, and increase data security and remote access.
  • Consolidated storage. Once an agency adopts server virtualization, it can consolidate the information it shares across servers and applications. Successful storage consolidation simplifies infrastructure management by creating a single point of control. Accordingly, consolidated storage improves efficiencies, application service levels and the ease of providing security -- all while speeding up provisioning and change management, streamlining job descriptions, and minimizing duplication. Although consolidated storage is just one key to a private cloud, it can significantly improve the overall quality of an agency's infrastructure.
  • Data center optimization. As it relates to private clouds, data center optimization includes tools for managing virtual machines and networks. Effective data center optimization can completely transform an IT environment by providing flexibility and systematic standardization of data storage systems. Integrating archiving into a data storage solution lets agencies define data retention policies for various types of information and users.
  • Converged infrastructure. Such solutions offer agencies an integrated IT infrastructure option. Converged infrastructure combines several traditionally stand-alone IT components into a single optimized solution. By converging servers, storage, networking equipment and software, these solutions provide a scalable and cost-effective way to quickly deploy a more simplified IT infrastructure.
  • Automation. This is the final step to a private cloud. With automation, an agency can trust that the entire virtualization process will run smoothly and securely, which removes a significant burden from IT departments.

Because most agencies already have a plan for implementing server virtualization, the goal of a private cloud does not have to be as challenging as it might seem. Agencies that implement a solid IT infrastructure comprising these key elements are well on their way to turning a quest into a completed IT mission.

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