There has been a lot of discussion on the Web lately regarding public cloud computing – that is, using such public Web-based services as Google Documents to make information readily available to users over a variety of computing platforms: smartphones, netbooks, laptops, desktops, etc. Well, today I’ve been working with a variation of cloud computing that I think is just as valuable: private cloud computing.
With public cloud computing you are relying on servers outside of your control with your data traveling over the public Internet. With private cloud computing you access resources directly under your control over a private network. Today I implemented and very effectively used a simple private cloud computing environment, and I’m extremely happy with the results!
So, how did I do it, and why did I want to do it at all? Well, as most of you know my primary work computer is an HP Mini 5101. It’s a great machine for a traveling consultant in that it’s small, light, and sufficiently powerful for all of the tasks I need to perform at my client sites. It does have some limitations though: small keyboard, small screen, and limited computing horsepower. I also have an extremely powerful desktop system in my home: a Gateway LX6810 Dual-Core Quad Processor system with 8 GB of memory, a full-size keyboard and wireless mouse, and a 24″ widescreen LCD monitor. It’s lots nicer to use for almost any computing task than the little HP.
This week I’m working at home and so I can use the Gateway system, but all of my work files and specialized software are on the little HP netbook. So I set up a simple private cloud environment that would allow me to use both systems: the HP Mini would act as a file and application server, while the Gateway would serve as my main machine and user interface into my private cloud.
Setting up this private cloud was extremely simple. First, I just enabled sharing of my work directory on the HP Mini so that I could transparently access my work files from the Gateway over my home Ethernet/WiFi network. Next, I utilized software that I had previously installed on both systems: LogMeIn. This allowed me to access the HP from the Gateway remotely and run any application on it that I didn’t have on the Gateway. Viola: a very nicely functioning private cloud environment!
OK, well my computing environment likely falls well short of the typical cloud computing architecture, but nevertheless I am now able to enjoy many of its benefits in my own home office. Don’t underestimate the power of this simple approach, it’s offering me incredible flexibility and usefulness. If you use multiple computers, you might want to investigate setting up a similar private cloud computing environment for yourself!