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Cloud basics
Private cloud
Cloud computing offers attractive economies of scale, provides on-demand services just in time, gives you an infrastructure that supports telework and continuity of operations (COOP) plans, and helps green up your data center. Even so, questions about security and privacy keep some public sector organizations from realizing the benefits of this computing model. To harness the power of the cloud on your terms, consider the private cloud.
If you think of cloud computing only as services you share with strangers, hosted in somebody else’s data center, think again. With a private cloud—a cloud computing infrastructure dedicated to your organization—you can have the cloud on your terms.
The cloud offers pay-as-you-go services, such as software, infrastructure, or platform resources, and enables you to rapidly and cost-effectively provision just what you need. You simply sign up for a service. In a public cloud, software and services are hosted in a data center shared by many subscribers and operated by a commercial entity.
Like public clouds, private clouds pool resources to provide self-service access to applications, elasticity that accommodates peaks and valleys in demand, and cost-saving economies of scale. However, private clouds also provide:
  • Dedicated resources. A private cloud delivers cloud services on resources dedicated to you, either on-premises, such as within your own data center, or in a partner’s hosting facility.
  • Control and customization. Dedicated resources offer you more control over the level of security, privacy, customization, and governance of your software and services than does a public cloud.
  • A road map to data center efficiency. A private cloud can help launch your organization’s journey to the cloud. Private cloud architectures can guide you to more cost-effective data center operations using your existing investments in people and equipment.
The ABCs of the cloud
Access. In the cloud, workers have access to applications, such as email and shared workspaces, from virtually anywhere on almost any device, helping you meet COOP and telework requirements.
Agility. Cloud technology empowers your IT team to respond quickly to changing needs and to provide computing scale and efficiency whenever you need it.
Business model. By obtaining services in the cloud, you can replace capital expenditures with more predictable monthly service fees.
Budget. Cloud models can help you reduce capital and operational expenses associated with equipping and managing data centers to serve peak capacity periods. A public cloud offloads operational maintenance of the services, and a private cloud automates management. Either way, your administrative overhead can be reduced.
Consistency. Cloud infrastructures provide a unified platform that can replace mixed IT environments and legacy systems, which often operate as inefficient data silos.
Control. IT gets end-to-end management across physical and virtual, on-premises and off-premises cloud environments, and into the applications—all from a central command interface.
  • You need data sovereignty but want cloud efficiencies. Some federal regulations require that certain types of data be hosted within government-operated infrastructures. For example, the Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) private cloud offers computing resources to defense organizations but operates solely on the Department of Defense internal network.
  • You want consistency across services. A private cloud hosted by a third party can deliver a consistent service level agreement (SLA) that helps you meet your users’ requirements across the organization. Private clouds offer benefits that traditional data centers can’t match, including, for example, the capacity for live migration across a range of servers.
  • You have more server capacity than your organization can use. By pooling infrastructure resources, you can optimize your existing server capacity. For example, if you have Windows Server 2008 R2, you can use the built-in Hyper-V technology to take advantage of the cost savings of virtualization. Pooled resources are easier and more cost-effective to manage than individual machines spread across an organization.
  • Your data center must become more efficient. The more you can consolidate your operating systems, physical and virtual environments, and server management tools, the more your operations become like a private cloud and the greater the efficiencies. A Microsoft virtualization solution offers a platform to do that.
  • You want to provide private cloud services. You may be able to turn your existing servers into a private cloud—and possibly a revenue center. Renting storage or infrastructure as a service can help you recoup your private cloud investment over time.
A partner can provide a private cloud to host your applications and services—a solution that gives you a high degree of operations control, enhanced security, and data sovereignty.
In comparing services, consider which key attributes are most important to you—security, management, storage, services, and support. Here are some questions to ask:
  • Does the vendor offer application virtualization in addition to desktop virtualization and the tools to manage everything, such as hybrid implementations that combine on-premises and cloud computing or public cloud offerings?
  • Can the vendor help you minimize costs by making use of your existing technology?
  • Does the vendor give you a road map, including architectural assistance, deployment guidance, and best practices? Look for familiar tools that are compatible with existing applications.
  • How flexible and extensible is a vendor’s solution? If you start with a public cloud service but later need to go private, can your vendor help?
With Cloud First and other mandates, government agencies look to the cloud to lower IT costs, help with data center consolidation efforts, support teleworkers, and deliver greener computing resources. Private cloud computing can be a step forward in your journey from traditional, on-premises IT models to more cost-effective delivery mechanisms.
Keep in mind that your solutions can span on-premises and cloud environments. That way, you can preserve your current IT assets while investing for future needs. That’s what DISA did when it built a private cloud to host Microsoft Office applications and other services. The U.S. Army is one of DISA’s tenants.1
Non-public choices for enterprise IT include private cloud options, both on-premises and off.
If your organization requires direct control over its physical assets and operational personnel, a private cloud on your premises may work better for you than one hosted by a partner. For example, using virtualization technologies, you can streamline your existing server operations and management today—a step toward a private cloud and the more agile, responsive world of cloud computing. But make sure to weigh all the costs, including systems management.
Here’s how to get started:
  • Optimize

    Start optimizing your server capacity. By pooling existing resources through virtualization technologies like Windows Server Hyper-V, you reduce server sprawl and associated costs. You also gain greater flexibility to deploy applications and workloads throughout your organization.
  • Standardize

    See how many of your IT processes you can standardize. The cloud model is service oriented, and providers must deliver a consistent SLA. As you move forward, keep refining your IT model with an eye toward simplifying the processes you use to deliver, manage, secure, and audit services. By standardizing wherever possible within your environment, you can reach greater economies of scale.
  • Automate

    Find ways to automate your manual processes so you can orchestrate workflows and make the best use of your existing resources. For example, in a private cloud, key processes like change management and provisioning are automated. You can get help from a systems management solution. A qualified provider with management tools that span on-premises and off-premises infrastructures can help you keep costs down.
Getting into the cloud on your terms has never been easier, whether you want to go public or stay private, deploy on-premises or host in a provider’s data center.

Try it for test and development

One of the best workloads to use in a private cloud environment is application development. Teams can quickly provision virtual environments and then easily develop and test against a predictable base state in a low-risk way. Many organizations use private clouds for this reason, because they can respond to demand faster by rolling out applications more quickly.

Offload select functions to a private cloud provider

You can work with a trusted partner to meet your security needs within its dedicated, private cloud environment. For example, the USDA provides email, document-sharing, and other collaboration tools housed on separate, dedicated infrastructures provided by Microsoft and designed to meet its enhanced security needs.2 The State of Minnesota also uses a version of Microsoft Business Productivity Online Standard Suite (BPOS) to provide communication and collaboration services.

Go hybrid

Like cars with more than one power source, your infrastructure can combine models with workloads that run both on traditional servers and in a private cloud. Lockheed Martin, the largest IT provider to the U.S. government, created a hybrid solution in Thundercloud.3 It combines on-premises hosting with applications on demand. Implementers use it to build solutions that keep federal agency data behind their firewall but that also allow access to computing, storage, and application services via the cloud.

Or go all in: Private cloud DIY

For the do-it-yourself (DIY) crowd, Microsoft offers two private cloud options. Today you can build private cloud elements on top of Windows Server Hyper-V and manage them using Microsoft System Center Virtual Machine Manager Self Service Portal 2.0. Or you can obtain key communications and productivity services from Microsoft Business Productivity Online Standard Suite-Dedicated (BPOS-D).

Key services in the cloud

To address specific government or business requirements, Microsoft offers several versions of the integrated suite of communication and collaboration services, Business Productivity Online Services, including BPOS-Federal, BPOS-Dedicated, and BPOS-Standard, as well as our next generation of Microsoft Online Services, Office 365.
Whether you choose to create your own private cloud on-premises or have a partner host your private cloud, Microsoft can help. Microsoft provides a familiar and consistent platform across physical, virtual, private, and public cloud environments so you can use the investments and skill sets you already have while taking advantage of the new value the cloud offers.
Your agency may already have a number of the technologies you need to get started. Contact us to learn how our cloud services assessment can help you identify cloud workloads and start planning on a private cloud.

Microsoft in the cloud

Microsoft solutions for private cloud computing, built on Windows Server, Hyper-V, and System Center, are a key part of our approach to cloud computing, enabling you to build out a dedicated cloud environment to transform the way your team delivers IT services to the organization.
Our extensive network of service provider partners is also available to help you move to a cloud model. Today more than 70 providers offer both private and public cloud services based on our platform.

Find a partner: