After Hours

10 reasons you should build your own cloud

As your reliance on cloud technologies increases, it might be time to think about bringing your cloud infrastructure in-house.

Businesses have almost reached the point where working within the cloud is a necessity. Be it for data storage, data synchronization, web-based apps, or even cloud-based operating systems, businesses need to hitch a ride to the cloud to keep up with the ever-expanding world around them. However, that doesn't mean you need to depend upon a third-party to host your cloud. Any business can pull the cloud within reach and inside its own infrastructure. But why would you bother spending the time and resources to make your own cloud when so many are already available? Does this wheel really need reinventing?

I can think of 10 reasons why it does. In the end, if you agree, you'll be digging into the likes of Ubuntu Cloud or ownCloud and serving up your very own company-centric cloud.

1: Cost effectiveness

Personal clouds are cheap. I pay something like $39.00 a year for my 25 GB UbuntuOne cloud. But when you ramp up to business levels, clouds can get costly. Bringing that cloud to your own hardware might have a high cost up front, but once that initial cost is paid, you're done. So long as you're using the right software (like an open source cloud), with an in-house cloud, you don't have to worry about added costs of additional seats.

2: Data security

Can you honestly trust your Dropbox account? Are you certain? One of the benefits of rolling your own cloud is that you, and only you, are responsible for the security of your data. Now, that can be good or that can be bad (depending upon your security acumen). But since you (and your IT department) will be completely responsible for data security, you can bet plenty of time and resources will go into making sure data on the company cloud is locked down tight. If you're not comfortable with the level of trust you have in your IT department's understanding of security, there is a fundamental flaw in the hiring process of the company.

3: Better control

If you rely upon a third-party for your cloud, you have little to no control over how that cloud can be used, how it's deployed, the granularity of its management, or how quickly (and how much) it can be expanded. If you bring that cloud in house, you are in complete control.  No matter how large you want your cloud, how many users, how you manage groups, how strong you want your security -- it's all in your hands.

4: True flexibility

With third-party clouds, you have to take what the provider offers. There might be scenarios you have developed that go outside the boundaries of the standard offerings. Not every business is the same, so not every cloud will fit. If you bypass this limitation and build your own cloud, you can remove the lack of flexibility forced upon your company by third-party vendors. With an in-house solution, your cloud can do whatever you need it to do, in a way that perfectly fits your business model and needs.

5: Sync speed

I've had issues with third-party cloud storage and sync where, due to heavy usage, my files and folders took far too long to sync. In a business setting, this is not acceptable. Workflow must enjoy immediacy or everything could bottleneck. If you bring your cloud in-house, you are only as limited as the data pipe you have feeding your internal network.

6: Company integration

You probably already have servers with shared directories and either and Active Directory or LDAP service running. If you build your own cloud, there's no reason why those preexisting services can't be rolled in. Not only will this make your cloud more powerful, it will also make it more IT- and user-friendly.

7: Unlimited size

Run out of space on your cloud? Slap on another drive. That's not the case with a third-party solution (where you wind up having to purchase more space). And even if you are allowed to purchase more space on a third-party solution, it will eventually max out. With your own internal cloud, that space is unlimited.

8: User management

Like the space issue, an in-house cloud means you won't be limited to the number of users who have access to your cloud. Those users can be easily managed, as well. Put varying caps on users based on need, department, etc.  Suspend users, set password requirements --your ability to manage users on your own cloud will be greatly enhanced compared to what you can do with a third-party solution.

9: Backup control

How is your current cloud backed up? If something goes hideously wrong, are you sure you can recover your data? If your cloud is in-house, you can always be sure that you have an up-to-date backup. Of course, you'll have to set up a backup and ensure that it backup works. But you'll be able to physically check on your backup (and even rotate drives). Take this one step further and make sure you have a regular, current image of the cloud server. With this image, should something catastrophic occur, you can be back up and running quickly.

10: HIPAA Compliance

Not all clouds are HIPAA compliant. If you bring your cloud in-house, so long as your internal network meets HIPAA requirements, your cloud will be closer to being compliant. With the in-house cloud, you can make sure that you meet the strict demands of the OCR HIPAA Audit Protocol. The only challenge beyond that will be ensuring that any client that connects to the cloud is also HIPAA compliant -- but that issue has to be addressed regardless of cloud location. Although cloud computing itself offers some serious challenges to HIPAA compliance, having your own in-house cloud server will make it easier for you to reach a compliant stage.

Pros and cons?

There are plenty of reasons for having your own in-house cloud. Naturally, it all boils down to one major factor:  Do you have the staff with the skill to build and manage that cloud? If so, the decision is a no-brainer.

What are some other benefits -- or disadvantages -- of bringing your cloud in house? Share your thoughts with fellow TechRepublic members.

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About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

55 comments
rmaillet56
rmaillet56

The internet wass not created by the militery It was created by Cerns Switzerland and MIT in Boston MA as a means of transfering data on Nuclear fusion. then other colages started attach them selfs to the network and it soon became a communications network with no beginning and no end thats when the US government took it over during the cold war... You can read the whole story at http://home.web.cern.ch/ or at MIT.edu

george
george

lets see history to understand the cloud... let make is simple. in the 80s and early 90s we encounter the "network" that created the LAN and WAN from that point we become aware the INTERNET created by the US military. the world started to connect to this "network" called INTERNET (simple cable connecting computers based on a protocol called IP). that was the beginning of cloud. the services on the internet started with hosting and email services which can be called small cloud. now we have much more serves running on the internet providing services and applications to the Internet People. so the cloud is just a big cable where many computers (servers) are connected so the [U] CLOUD = NETWORK ON A LARGE SCALE. [/U] this is my opinion.

rmaillet56
rmaillet56

Many hospitals and doctors offices are using Electronic Health Records or Electronic Hospital Records applications delivered strictly by the software providers choice of cloud solution providers such as Google or Amazon who do provide an excellent cloud infrastructure. But, If the Internet goes down weather it be the carrier delivering internet access to the various users of the applications or some place else that brakes the connection to the application without having an internal backup of some sort life's are at risk. Hence Price -V- Cost so what is the cost of a life. Or are we now back in the Vietnam era where life was worth nothing but a $0.20 bullet. The point I've been trying to make is as follows. I have been a systems and network engineer for over twenty years and have built some of the largest financial services ASP's in the world. What I am seeing today is the younger mostly windows IT professionals really think different when it comes to Price -V- Cost as compared to the way us older Unix and Linux IT professionals were taught. Life is a big player when evaluating Cost.

rmaillet56
rmaillet56

If what you say is true why are most Doctors and hospitals using strictly EMR/EHR services that are cloud based solution with zero in house redundancy in the event the Internet goes down. If life and death is not a serious issue in your eyes what would be more important to you if you were the one just brought in an ambulance and your medical records were unavailable and you happen to be allergic to something they shoot into your veins.

rmaillet56
rmaillet56

I think what most IT managers have forgotten is Price -V- Cost and the variables that must be considered when weighing Price -V- Cost. I think one thing gets overlooked quite a bit these days and that is mission critical requirements. It may be far less expensive to use cloud computing than installing your own data center, but what happens if the Internet goes down between the cloud and the end user some place? Lets take the emerging health care business. Most are free offered over a cloud solution. Lets start with the Doctors Electronic Medical Records (EMR) most are being offered for free the company doing the offering makes their money by charging exorbitant percentage of the billing. But what happens if the Internet goes down for 2 hours that cost the Dr between $300 and $500 an hour. Now take that and run those numbers against a hospital and the numbers grow exponentially by the number of surgeons and size of the hospital.. What I'm saying is there is a place where cloud computing is an excellent solution and then there are other times when its absolutely the wrong solution. These are issues that should be thought through by the CTO or consultant hired to make these decisions. The Price -V- Cost Senior needs to be studied in each case thoroughly. I forgot about the life's that are at stake in Hospitals that are relying on a outsourced cloud computing solutions. Without having a back-up system that is continuously in sync with the cloud database when the Internet goes down life's are at stake. In this circumstance people will die because doctors and nurses are unable to access crucial medical information IE: allergies to penicillin, pain killers, or other antibiotics and medications. People will die with out the hospital staff having this information at their finger tips at all times regardless of if the Internet goes down. The reason I am aware of these problems is because i just helped a close family member setup a excellent EMR system that is cloud based. I did this without giving a second thought to the architecture of Cloud computing he hit a snag the second week using the system because the local carrier went down for several hours not only did the doctor loose about a $800 in revenue, his patients health were put in jeopardy because the Doctor was unable to recall their past health history, leaving him in the dark as to what they may be allergic to etc. These are serious issues that surround cloud computing in the medical field that are not being taken into consideration when doctors choose systems. Remember they are doctors and not network and system engineers which I happen to be and I still over looked the most important issue these solutions have to be mission critical solutions and have to be designed and installed with that in mind.

ahanse
ahanse

When in actual fact it smells of gunpowder. Once upon a time after reading an article here I learnt something, nowadays it is more akin to troll fodder and my loyalty is becoming burdensome. The cloud concept fits the way of the future for many reasons that can be seen today with mobile users on a global reach. It makes complete sense. Done and managed with full understanding of the current issues it will/has transformed the way we do things. So bring it on. No matter which way you go there are pro and cons. The central model will be increasingly extremely costly not to mention the ramifications of potential data loss. The self imposed solution will run up against the ongoing staffing problem where the turnover will wreak havoc with the mismatch of skills that exists. The self solution will eventually loose out for the smaller businesses due to overall cost and reliability. Costs will skyrocket as we become reliant on the centralised cloud model because supply and demand dictate prices. Cost will be a water cooler subject for all time but the one for businesses to watch will be data loss because it means the difference between survival and extinction.

Slayer_
Slayer_

We already have that, it is called a LAN. I didn't think the circle would complete so soon.

den123net
den123net

What a moronic take on things! (Unless the article is a joke, in which case, its pretty good, as it caused solid laughs across a large office full of techies). I have now shared it across colleagues and even clients and all had a good belly chuckles.. There is no In-House Cloud by definition. The same way as there is no "National Power Grid" in-house. You can have a server room, sure, even with back-ups (wow), but it is not, nor ever be a Cloud :) Will your own Cloud magically grow when you need more data / compute? Will it shrink at night when you don't need it? The author should get a tech job, (writing does not count), and even then refrain from advising anyone on anything ...

starmagus
starmagus

What is HIPAA Compliance? HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, sets the standard for protecting sensitive patient data. Any company that deals with protected health information (PHI) must ensure that all the required physical, network, and process security measures are in place and followed.

mvanzwieten
mvanzwieten

Just wanted to send in a correction... it's actually HIPAA... Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Not to be confused with HIPPO. :)

RNR1995
RNR1995

UGH! sick of the cloud talk, cloud smoud

bobcglewis
bobcglewis

I am very non-geek (obviously) but isn't someone chasing their tail here? Once there were big servers in the cleaner's office at the end of the corridor. Then people (like Google) put thousands of servers into aircraft hangers, rented out their capabilities and gave this the rather funky and esoteric name of 'cloud' computing, as if it floated in the stratospheric ether; and then, latterly, (in the mindless race for whose-got-the-acronym-of the-week award, 'SaaS', so-normal-people-will have-to-ask-what-it-means-and-we'll-look-so-clever-and-scientific-when-we tell-them. What a load of GC (Geek Crap)

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I'm very confused, especially by point #6: "Company integration - You probably already have servers with shared directories and either and Active Directory or LDAP service running. If you build your own cloud, theres no reason why those preexisting services cant be rolled in." What does Jack mean by rolling existing services into a private cloud? How does this differ from the existing shared directory configuration? It sounds like we're adding a layer of something between the service and the users, but I can't picture what it is. It looks to me like all of Jack's advantages are just rehashings of the traditional client-server model. That's the model I've used mentally to understand 'cloud computing', with servers external to the clients and an Internet link in the middle. Obviously that doesn't apply to internal clouds, but how does 'internal cloud' differ from 'client-server'? Does IT no longer provide a resource and the infrastructure to connect to it? Are my previous understandings incorrect? What are the changes? What am I missing?

rduncan
rduncan

Private and hybrid clouds are not that simple and require a significant investment, there is a myth that companies are jumping into the public and private clouds en masse, they are not! - start up companies are because it makes economic sense and bigger enterprises are using software as a service options - meanwhile in-house virtualization projects are still underway and windows server 2003 is still hogging non VT chipsets around the world. I recommend Eucalyptus cloud for on premises cloud, it's built on the AWS API and maintains high fidelity compatibility, the enterprise version has SAN support and a VMware vSphere broker - it's pretty impressive, Openstack would be my next favourite- they both have LDAP sync for OpenLDAP or AD users sync, most Linux administrators worth their salt would deploy these pretty quickly but Windows administrators might find it's a bigger learning curve - that said, AWS maintain PowerShell cmdlets which should work with Eucalyptus for a full object orientated cloud, I now prefer Powershell to Bash for day to day stuff on AWS and Eucalyptus. Everyone should be looking at these, they're really fun and free :-)

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