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You Don't Have to Be the Biggest to Gain Cloud Computing's Advantage

Don't let the size of your data center limit you when designing a private cloud

Nearly everyone who is in this business has big ideas: dreams of the ideal project - the one you would implement if you only had access to unlimited resources with none of the corporate constraints that are part and parcel of working for a large enterprise. Nothing wrong with dreaming big and keeping that ideal firmly in your sights, because you never know, right?

One of the big advantages of cloud computing is the ability to scale to virtually any level you can imagine. It used to be when you thought about data center projects, you were limited by the physical resources of your hardware, but with virtualization, the barriers are no longer there and the possibilities are endless, leaving that dream project of yours a much more realistic possibility.

How could it happen? James Hamilton, a key member of the Amazon Web Services team, believes virtualization gives you the power and the efficiency to scale to a point where that impossible dream could actually be realized.

How efficient is a large-scale cloud deployment? According to Hamilton, "...cloud services provide economies of scale of five to ten times over small-scale deployments..." The idea, according to Hamilton, is to achieve an extremely high level of automation.

In a speech at Oracle Open World 2010, Marc Benioff, CEO at Salesforce.com, one of the earliest examples of a public cloud application, outlined just how efficient his company is. It uses just 1,500 servers to service 83,000 customers. That's a nice ratio by any standards, and according to Hamilton, it's virtualization that makes this type of efficiency possible. Keep in mind, if it works for Salesforce, it could work for you too.

But it's not just the big boys who benefit from this, as Hamilton suggests. As someone who works at Amazon, it's in his interest to get you to think big and buy more services, but even when you start small, you get many of the same cloud computing benefits including flexibility, agility, control, security and the ability to meter usage internally.

Don't let the size of your data center limit you when designing a private cloud. It could still be a good idea even if you don't reach the extremely large scale that Hamilton promotes, because you still gain the advantages we discussed of moving to a cloud model regardless of how large you get, while retaining some of the flexibility to scale up or down as needed within the limits of your existing hardware.

So Hamilton's dream of the biggest project ever might be out there for you or you might be content to take advantage of the cloud regardless of your size and let those dreams take a back seat to practicality and what works for you today.

More Stories By Benjamin Grubin

Benjamin Grubin is a 15-year veteran of the technology industry with experience in security, software engineering, marketing, consulting and management. He is the Director of Product Management & Marketing for Cloud Technology Partners, overseeing products that accelerate cloud development and migration. Mr. Grubin has worked with Fortune 100 companies to modernize their infrastructure and support next-generation management and security technologies. He is also a frequent presenter at conferences, seminars and panels on topics including cloud computing, IT service management, virtualization, and IT security.

Mr. Grubin holds an MBA from Harvard Business School as well as both a Master of Science in Computer Science and Bachelor of Science in Economics and Computer Science from Tufts University. Follow Ben on Twitter at @bgrubin.

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