Best Practices for Building Private Clouds recently came out with a great article with some savvy guidance on building a private cloud — 5 steps, actually, for making a private cloud successful and within your reach.

Even if you still want to manage IT infrastructure and apps in-house, building a private cloud is still good practice, says the article. “With virtualization and the private cloud, CIOs are much closer to that goal of efficient and dynamic IT service delivery capability,” said Frank Gens, senior vice president and chief analyst at researchers IDC, in the article.

But everybody needs help and guidance — especially if you’re embarking on something new. So, here are some of the five best practices that you can levy:

I. Assess

  • Evaluate your current and planned hardware, hypervisors, network architecture and storage;
  • Understand corporate security standards and existing vendor relationships, and be aware of what’s in the development pipeline at vendors (you don’t want to plunk down money for dead-end tech);
  • Start with a defined project, and plan for growth and change. Use client case studies and success stories when preparing and documenting your deployment plans;

II. Deploy

  • Be prepared for cloud computing growth and an eventual uptick by establishing a deployment schedule;
  • Make essential content available in a centralized library so that all can access it;
  • At kickoff, communicate! For example, introduce critical IT team members and confirm the deployment schedule. Create and deploy on-site training;
  • Automate self-service provisioning of applications, but keep in mind that things will change; so, be flexible; .

III. Analyze

  • It’s very important to review trends in usage, resource consumption, server use and administration overhead;
  • Understand ROI and TCO metrics; gain executive buy-in with formal ROI evaluations on a frequent basis, preferably monthly and quarterly.

IV. Continue to be Creative

  • Plan your service catalog wisely by creating reusable building blocks of virtual machines and services;
  • Because your content is critical, study users’ needs and plan for their experience;
  • Build a centralized IT infrastructure by avoiding discrete stacks and multiple OSs.

Even though private clouds remain behind your company’s firewall, you should still plan to monitor your critical applications, database and service providers on a 24/7 basis. It’s important to stay on top of potential problems with bandwidth and access — and receive warning of those pending crises. Countless companies are finding peace of mind in monitoring, and IT staff all over the world are getting a better night’s sleep because of it.