Migration steps to a private cloud

The rationale to move towards cost effective private cloud to reduce cost and improve the flexibility to dynamically use the hardware resources and elastically define the infrastructure architecture are defined in the earlier post.   Applications running in the current environment must be migrated to new private cloud to realize the benefit. To illustrate the thought process, the source platform is assumed as a stand-alone HP-UX and AIX platform and target platform is virtualized Intel processor based chassis managed by VmWare ESX cloud operating system.

Migration steps are given..

  1. Check the applications in the landscape uses COTS (Commercial Off The Shelf) product). Verify from the vendor, the COTS product is supported in the VmWare environment.  If COTS are not supported in the VmWare environment, understand the vendor’s product road map and see if there is any VmWare support in the horizon. Explore ASP model for COTS model.  If it is not feasible, then follow the exception process. (An organization should define an exception process to deviate from private cloud)
  2. Study the technology stack of current application landscape. Verify the technology stack can run in the new host operating system (Linux or Windows).  For instance, if an organization runs the application server BEA WebLogic in HP-UX, in this step, verify if BEA web logic can run in Linux or windows.  There are some technology (like Oracle DB) does not support or perform in VmWare cloud operating system. When a technology is not supported, it is an opportunity to consider that technology for migration to a comparable technology with lower cost and risk and higher or equal benefits.
  3. Even when a current commercial technology stack (like IBM WebSphere, IBM DB2) runs in VmWare platform, still perform a risk assessment of running the native technology stack instead of migration of existing technology stack to private cloud. For example, perform a risk assessment comparing IBM Websphere and native application server JBoss.  The net benefits between these technologies may be equal, in most case, there is a significant license cost differences between these technologies.
  4. Study the migration cost from current technology stack to new technology stack in the cloud. For instance, study how the current technology stack (application server, database server) are currently being used. Look for any proprietary module used by applications in the landscape. For instance, IBM provided CICS transaction gateway jar files in older version of websphere. The applications in the landscape may be still using it. Watch for it. CTG jar files are not part of J2EE specification when IBM bundled with their product. Later, Java connectors for CICS are made available. If there are applications in the landscape using more proprietary modules/tools, then migration of application from websphere to JBoss will be a significant effort.  Total cost of migration must be taken in to consideration. It is a not a best practices to run any vendor proprietary technologies in the mission critical application in the landscape.
  5. Repeat step 2,3,4 for all elements in the technology stack. (like database, security access management, data ware house, back office systems and etc)

Business Rationale for a private cloud

In a stand-alone hardware infrastructure, adding an extra memory or CPU to a hardware unit may take 3-5 months time involving various members following various internal processes like purchase request, infrastructure internal process, service provider internal purchase process and etc. The longer lead time and more involvement from various teams are required because of current enterprise hardware design. Most of  IT organization has more stand-alone servers and it limits the flexibility to add additional resources to the servers.
Due to above reasons, during the initiation phase of any project, the lenient hardware capability planning is done.  It is not ideal nor cost efficient.  This problem can be solved by procuring a bigger server and partition it as need arises. The concept has been in use in mainframe platform for last three decades and each partition in mainframe is called LPAR (Logical PARtition). The similar concept proliferated in the Unix world and major Unix operating systems AIX, Sun Solaris and HP-UX supports it now.
Operating systems Aix, Sun Solaris, and HP-UX run on their host RISC processors from IBM, Sun, and HP respectively.  RISC processor are designed for high volume high speed processing  there is a perception within IT leadership team including  CIOs that only the RISC processors are suitable for data center operations.    The cost of virtualization operating system and blade chassis hardware for RISC based server farm are more expensive than CISC (Complex Instruction Set Computer)processor (like Intel Xeon, AMD) based server farms.  CISC processor based servers had the perception that it is meant for a small scale business and not ready for enterprise data center operation.  It has been a challenge to enterprise architects and IT strategist to convince the IT leadership team to re-platform the existing expensive and inflexible stand alone RISC based servers.

Popularity, acceptance, and adoption of social networking platforms like web 2.0 indirectly helped IT leadership team to rethink about their perception on the CISC based servers for data center operations.  The popular social network sites like facebook runs on Linux platform and the number of users in social networking sites exponentially growing.  It is empirical proof that CISC processor based server are ready for high volume and high-speed data center operations.

With current economic climate, IT leadership team in all sectors have the following objectives.

  • Reduce infrastructure cost (Capital Expense, CAPEX)
  • Reduce over all data center operation cost  (Operational Expense, OPEX)
  • Utilize more energy-efficient (for both Green and cost purpose) devices
  • Minimize lost revenue due to down time

The above objective can be met by developing a cost-effective private cloud. It will additionally provide more flexibility and enable the organization to become  more nimble and agile.

How to architect the private cloud?

First and fore most, cloud operating system is required to manage a set of hardware to virtualize it to create virtual image.  There are two types of cloud operating system available.

  1. Hosted Server cloud operating system
  2. Bare-metal server cloud operating system

1. Hosted server cloud operating system requires a host operating system. The cloud operating system runs on top of the host operating system. The devices are directly managed by the host operating system. It is not designed to clone the operating system and create an image. It is primarly dessigned to clone an application. It is not recommended to run the data center operation like data ware house.

2. Bare-metal server cloud operating system has a micro kernel to manage all hardware directly. Generally the micro kernel is developed very effectively. There are open source cloud operating system available. If you are running mission critical  system, it is highly recommended to run under the commercial cloud operating system. VmWare ESX Server is one of the popular commercial cloud operating system. The micro kernel of VmWare ESX  written very effectively and does a great job of managing the resources.

What are the hardware requirements for private cloud?Well, it depends. There are quite a few certified hardware providers supply servers to  run under VmWare ESX Server. All major manufacturers like Dell, HP, IBM, Fujitsu hardware both blade and racks runs under VmWare ESX Server.  Similarly major manufacturers in storage area network, SCSI controllers, RAID controllers, Fiber Channel adapters, Ethernet Nic support VmWare ESX. Select the hardware, memory and storage based on your needs. There are guidelines available to select the hardware units. Those guidelines will be followed based on the need.

What are the target operating systems ?Well, again, it depends on the requirement. It supports both Linux and Windows. It support all major flavor of Linux (like Redhat, Novel SuSE) and Windows server platform. VmWare ESX can support both operating system at the same time.  The size of the image can be selected based on the requirement.


With the private cloud architecture using Intel/AMD processors, all the above objectives are being met.

Cloud Computing Architecture and its future..

Cloud computing concept continue to receive acceptance and its adaption increases exponentially.

I heard today from one of vendor representative that he grew up in the farm and growing up in the farm means he had to learn whatever required in no time to do farming. He confirmed my thoughts on how farm boys grow up in the farm. Cloud computing basically took the farm boy approach. Do whatever is required to do the job!

Fifteen years ago, the PC support team use to install the operating system (windows 3.11,MS-DOS ) in each and every PCs and PC support cost use to be a significant cost in the IT shop. As repetitive mundane tasks mandates  innovation, solution like Norton Ghost solution were emerged and hence deployment made easy and drove the PC support cost down.

Cloud computing took the Norton Ghost solution to the server environment.  Like me, I can imagine most of the IT members spent significant time in  building the development, testing, staging and production environment for each application and spent  time to ensure that all the environment were build alike and still had environment behaved differently for unknown reasons. Cloud computing solves all theses problems.

Key components of cloud computing:

Utilizing the external storage in the server environment has been in use for quite a while. In some cases, like manufacturing production databases, selecting the apt external storage platform including hardware, storage operating system, connectivity and raid types plays a vital role in the system architecture.  Likewise, in the cloud computing, the storage and processing unit are physically separated and logically connected as and when required. It includes the boot volume too.  To manage both processing units and storage units, an external operating system called cloud computing operating system is used. There are vendors like vmware sells cloud computing operating system like vmware vSphere and there are open source cloud computing operating system like eyeOS

  • Processing Units
  • Storage units
  • Cloud computing OS
  • Network units

Architecture of cloud computing:

For external users

Have a OC3 or OC12 or OC48 internet link based on your requirement to connect to the internet for your data center. Have a cisco 7200 series and cisco ACE series for your first and second layers of your network. Have netcahce or ssl accelerator or intrusion prevention devices based on your requirements. Connect the internal vlan with blade server (HP) and storage units like EMC. Slice the EMC luns to have a preload images like Redhat, Windows with preloaded system software like application server, web server, domain name server, database server, director server and etc. Install the cloud computing operating system in the external boxes and link both processing and storage units. The cloud computing operating system manages both processing and storage units.

If there are requirements to connect stand alone servers, it can be connected in the internal vlan.

The architecture is straight forward and purposefully I’m not drawing it.

For internal users:

The same architecture expect OC3 internet link.

Cloud Computing Future:

The concept is very cost effective and efficient. Instead of building images for production servers with application server, web server, database server and etc.. the image will be elevated to more business unit image. Loan processing image, collection and customer service image, delinquency image, skip tracing image,  bankruptcy, treasury, securitization, point of sale and etc.  The technology cloud is in the phase of reaching maturity and business cloud is emerging. There is a huge potential for the players who get quickly into the business cloud.

Think about for a minute, if you are bank, why do you want to spend time on building IT infrastructure to process loan. Banks JUST want to focus on getting good papers, good customers and not worry about how the assets are stored, retrieved and processed. Whoever get into business cloud will lead that market segment for a while!!