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You often hear cloud tech discussed in terms of big, hyperscale cloud providers — the Googles and Amazons of the world.

Yet a quiet cloud revolution is also occurring in today’s enterprise IT organizations: The steady building of private cloud environments.

A private cloud is an on-demand, service-oriented, shared IT infrastructure that typically operates behind the walls of a company’s own data center. And its popularity is on the rise. According to a recent InformationWeek Private Cloud Survey, 47 percent of survey respondents now report having “functional private clouds” in operation. That’s more than double the 21 percent from a 2012 survey.

The growing popularity of private clouds brings with it some expensive lessons. While success is definitely within reach, private clouds are not without their share of pitfalls. Here, I’ll list five top reasons private cloud projects tend to get derailed.

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You believe the cloud will solve all your problems

It’s easy to get caught up in a pro-cloud tidal wave of optimism, but let’s face facts. Having a private cloud won’t necessarily solve all your organization’s IT issues. Not every application is a good candidate to be ported to a private cloud. An application you set up once and rarely change is a prime example.

On the other hand, some applications are good candidates for outsourcing to public clouds.  These might include applications that don’t need to run for a prolonged time, applications with occasional spikes in traffic, or applications not generating a lot of data that are in need of migration.

How to avoid this mistake:  Make sure you understand the use cases for private cloud and where they make the most sense for your organization.   Good candidates might be applications that benefit from agility and are provisioned frequently.

You think everyone will automatically love the idea   

Do you really have to “sell” your private cloud scheme when talking to IT teams? Yes. Many existing enterprise organizations, both within their current IT team and across other departments, may not perceive the value of a move to private cloud. They also may not be a fan of the potential, short-term change involved in such a move. Thus, be prepared for the culture to push back against the notion of private cloud. In some cases, some enterprises may even face active opposition to private cloud.

How to avoid this mistake:  Clearly define your objective with private cloud. Specifically, this means defining (and measuring) what outcome the organization hopes to achieve from a move to private cloud.

Think a private cloud will bring greater agility? Measure it clearly.

  • If an IT process usually takes the IT organization four weeks to complete, but a private cloud will let you complete it in four hours or less, that’s measurable. That’s also a good idea.
  • Can you go to market faster?
  • Can you do something you couldn’t do before?

Be specific. Be measurable. And make sure you can effectively communicate these values with anyone who asks. Become an inside champion for the concept who can effectively “sell” anyone who asks on the value of private cloud.

You want a private cloud because it’s cool

This mistake harks back to insufficient planning and insufficient information. If a private cloud doesn’t align exactly to what other department heads want and need to make their teams flourish, you’re likely to have a total failure on your hands.

How to avoid this mistake: Want to succeed at private cloud? Make sure your vision of private cloud aligns exactly to business outcomes and to your own company’s unique business requirements. IT teams need to understand such business needs, act as a partner to internal constituents and let them know specifically how the private cloud will fulfill those needs.

You’re trying to boil the ocean

Private clouds are big. They are visionary. They can also make huge impacts on the way your enterprise does business for years to come.

Yet trying to deploy the Cadillac of all private clouds at the outset may not always be the right idea. Taking on too much at once can be another way to see your grandiose dreams for cloud dashed too soon by the wayside.

How to avoid this mistake: This is new technology and a new way of doing things. Some adjustment to change is normal. Many organizations succeed with private cloud by first adopting smaller cloud pilot projects for their low-hanging fruit. Test and development is an obvious choice for many organizations’ first cloud pilots. Here, you can often achieve fast results from cloud. These can then be share with the rest of the organization–a welcome move to incur favor when it comes time to expand.

Your plan doesn’t fit your organization

IT teams steeped in the old way of doing things may not do well in a private cloud construct. That’s because private clouds often rely on converged infrastructure (CI) “stacks” which break down the typical organization walls of application teams, server teams, network teams, and storage teams. Those tasks that were separated by which part of the infrastructure “stack” was involved must now be combined for optimal efficiency.

How to avoid this mistake: Be aware that private clouds are about more than technology. There are process and organizational changes also required to have the right environment for optimal cloud success. Get advice from experts who can help your organization think differently about the types of technological and organizational changes needed to ensure success with private cloud.

Kent Christensen is practice director for cloud and virtual data centers at Datalink.

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