The Journey to the Private Cloud Part 3 – The Infrastructure Layer

Happy Monday private cloud architecture blog fans! We start the week on a good foot with a great contribution from one of our private cloud architecture thought leaders – Vincent Montalbano. Vincent is doing a series called “Journey to the Private Cloud” and he’s going over the key architectural issues you will need to think about as you consider your migration to private cloud. image

In this article, Vincent tackles the Infrastructure Layer in private cloud architecture. The Infrastructure Layer is supported by the Management Layer and supports the core physical infrastructure that powers your private cloud. When thinking about the Infrastructure Layer for the private cloud, there are some important considerations that are specific for private cloud that you might not make when dealing with a traditional datacenter. For that reason, I think you’ll get an insight or two after you finish reading this article.

Want to get your name out there as a thought leader in private cloud? Want to share your ideas with the private cloud architecture community? I bet you do! Then why not write an article for the Private Cloud Architecture blog? Private Cloud is in its infancy and we’re all trying to understand how to get the most out of private cloud. Share you knowledge and let’s learn from each other. Just send your article to me (Tom Shinder) at and I’ll do an edit and get it on the blog. If you include a picture of yourself, I’ll put that on your post too! Looking forward to seeing your contributions. Thanks! Tom Shinder – the Private Cloud Guy.

The Journey to the Private Cloud Part 3 – The Infrastructure Layer

by Vincent Mantalbano

Let’s continue our discussion for planning migration to the Private Cloud in our traditional datacenter by reviewing the Infrastructure Layer of the Microsoft Private Cloud Reference Model. In our previous posts we reviewed the Operations and Management layers of the private cloud.

Part 1- Journey to the Private Cloud Operations Layer

Part 2- Journey to the Private Cloud Management Layer

According Microsoft the Infrastructure Layer “Provides resilient hypervisor services to the Platform Layer and is managed by the Management Layer”.

The Infrastructure layer is directly managed by the Management layer of the Microsoft Private Cloud Reference model and is made up of physical and virtual servers, networking and storage. There are 2 concepts to research and fully understand before you start planning the Infrastructure Layer of your private cloud datacenter:

  1. Homogenization of Hardware - The concept here is simple: If all of your servers are the same make and model with matching hardware, (NIC, CPU, and RAM), your hosted workloads, (virtual machines) behavior should be predictable. In other words if you use Live Migration to move a VM to another host server there should be no issues with a driver or a hardware incompatibility when that VM lands on the new target host. This is so important in the private cloud datacenter because we want the ability to provide uninterruptable services to our customers. This approach should be also followed in regards to your network devices and storage systems.
  2. Resource Pools - Are collections of computing resources that are pooled to serve multiple consumers. This concept fits a traditional datacenter model as well if you think of the consumers as different departments or divisions of your organization, (for example production finance servers can be a resource pool and your DEV/QA servers can be partitioned into a separate resource pool).

So you are still asking yourself, “How do you get from where you are now to the private cloud”? In a perfect world that question would be an easy one to answer just build, (or rebuild) your datacenter from scratch. In this approach you will ensure that all of your server hardware is the same make and model that has the same amount of memory and the same number and type of CPUs. All of your networking will be running at 10 Gbps and you will have the most efficient way to cool your hardware and manage your power.

Unfortunately, we all know that most of the time we are not able to start over from scratch. And most importantly, we have businesses and users to support.

In my opinion the easiest way to begin the migration to the private cloud is around your next upcoming hardware refresh cycle. You are constantly going through the process of procuring new physical hardware so we can follow step 1 above by ensuring that the new hardware will be consistent across the board. This will allow us to plan and construct our resource pools to provide predictable behavior for our virtualized workloads. It will also allow us to create resource pools based on service needs.

Furthermore, planning your migration to the private cloud around your businesses hardware refresh cycle will also give other IT Infrastructure stakeholders the opportunity to plan the standardization of their hardware. The end result is the buy in from other stakeholders participating in the process resulting in your migration to the private cloud having the “homogenized” infrastructure that is vital to providing consistent cloud services.

This goal of this article is to provide a starting point for planning the fabric of your datacenter for private cloud services. As IT professionals our goal here is to ultimately provide resource pools that can be treated as “Service Management” partitions. Where a consumer service, (remember your finance application servers) can be grouped together into a resource pool and managed according to their service needs, (high performance or availability, security etc.).

"The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent Microsoft’s or my employer's positions, strategies or opinions”

Vincent Montalbano
Infrastructure Consultant Catapult Systems, Inc.
MCITP: Enterprise Administrator
MCITP: Windows Server 2008 R2 Virtualization
MCTS:System Center Configuration Manager, System Center Operations Manager
MCTS:Windows 7,Configuring

Tom Shinder
Principal Knowledge Engineer, SCD iX Solutions Group
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