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January 9, 2017updated 13 Jan 2017 11:36am

OpenStack private cloud: benefits, challenges and what the future holds

Despite growing momentum, major challenges around managing and integrating cloud infrastructure still remain for UK IT professionals.

By James Nunns

Many businesses in the UK have turned to private cloud to run mission-critical applications, with 80 percent of senior IT professionals having moved, or planning to move, to the OpenStack private cloud.

The impact and adoption rates of this “cloud of choice” were explored in a recent study by SUSE, looking into the key benefits of private cloud and the effect its growth is having on UK businesses.


Widespread adoption

The business benefits of OpenStack have led to its real growth in popularity.

Organisations can use OpenStack to enable innovation while reducing costs, as well as meet demands of the business more quickly thanks to its flexibility.

OpenStack also provides the ability to run workloads through IaaS (infrastructure-as-a-service) by providing access to automated pools of IT resources.

Mark Smith, senior marketing manager of cloud solutions at SUSE.

Mark Smith, senior marketing manager of cloud solutions at SUSE.

The cloud preferences of UK businesses were analysed in a recent study by SUSE. A huge 96 percent of respondents said they would use cloud for running business-critical workloads, with 88 percent of UK companies having already implemented more than one private cloud.

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As an open source solution OpenStack can play a significant role in reducing costs – often a key motivator for businesses moving to the cloud. Not only that, it is also key in alleviating concerns around vendor lock-in while providing the ability to innovate and drive innovation. And it’s for these reasons that many organisations are looking to OpenStack to run business-critical workloads in future.

However, despite this growing momentum, major challenges around managing and integrating cloud infrastructure still remain for UK IT professionals.


Private cloud complications

The primary concerns when it comes to private cloud in the UK are potential vendor lock-in – a key worry for 91 percent of respondents – along with installation challenges. In addition, organisations are worried about a lack of skills, with a huge 89% of respondents concerned about a lack of access to the right skillsets.

These issues are making some organisations reluctant to pursue private cloud and see it through to implementation.

What’s more, the study found that while 57 percent of respondents found implementation a difficult process, almost half actually failed in their attempts to implement an OpenStack cloud. Another complication could potentially arise when it comes to self-implementation as 30 percent plan to download and install OpenStack themselves.


The OpenStack vision

When considering an OpenStack implementation, there are several important concerns that need to be considered from the outset. Firstly – to buy or to build? The size of the IT team and available skillsets play a key role, so it’s important to bear this in mind when outlining the project if an internal deployment is to be successful.

Closing the OpenStack skills gap is another important step in a successful implementation. Businesses can look to the OpenStack Foundation for support, an organisation which helps businesses get the most from their private cloud by offering flexible support and training for IT teams and technology partners.

UK businesses are more willing than ever before to move business-critical workloads to the private cloud. If done correctly, organisations will see reduced costs along with increased innovation, flexibility and agility following implementation.

That said, complexities remain so it’s important that businesses look to address issues such as a potential skills gap or vendor lock-in. The mature OpenStack private cloud distributions available today are making it a very attractive move for organisations around the world.

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