Private Clouds and Agility

As a director of a software company, one of the challenges I have is to make sure we keep innovating and delivering software in a timely manner. In addition, there is the little matter of not only delivering, but delivering useful software that the end-user actually wants. This is no small challenge and the trend in the software development industry has for some time been focused on ‘Agile’ development methods to help achieve this goal. Management techniques such as SCRUM and Kanban have been adopted to try to help the development process. The more advanced Agile organisations are implementing continuous delivery of software, all leading to more agile, responsive developments which actually build what the customer wants.

As author of Learning Tree’s Introduction to Cloud Computing course, one of the most popular chapters on the course is the private cloud section with practical work using a Eucalyptus private cloud. Attendees are really keen to learn about private clouds and when I ask them why, the answer almost always is because of security. This is a very general answer, which for some organisations is totally correct and applicable. This is not to say public clouds are not secure.

At this point you may be wondering where I am heading with this article, starting on software development and moving to cloud computing preferences. The link is that many organisations that practice ‘Agile’ software development are missing a key part of their overall ability to be ‘Agile’, that is their computing infrastructure. One of the key benefits a private cloud can bring to an organisation is ‘Agility’ to the infrastructure so that is can be deployed in the most appropriate way at any particular time. This varies continuously in many organisations but many do not realise it. New projects start ,others move to mainstream, some get retired – what happens to their resources ?. Often they stay fixed. Private clouds enable the infrastructure to be allocated and re-assigned where it can best be used and is needed with cloud software, enabling companies to advance the development as quickly as possible and not be held up by the infrastructure. The beauty of a private cloud such as Eucalyptus, is that with their recent agreement with Amazon, should the on-premise not have the capacity, extra can be provisioned transparently from Amazons cloud.

Private clouds have significant advantages for organisations, some obvious such as better usage of resources and total control of security if required for regulatory purposes. For many organisations, the agility in infrastructure and instantaneous deployment and re-deployment of this infrastructure is a benefit that is often not immediately obvious. If your company claims to work in an Agile way, is the infrastructure Agile too ? If not, a private cloud solution such as Eucalyptus could change things for the better.

Chris Czarnecki

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