In an earlier post entitled ‘Private Cloud – An Oxymoron’, I wrote about how the term, private cloud offers little value and is arguably a term that is used by legacy IT suppliers to exploit concerns about their customers migrating computing resources to the (public) cloud. Is the private cloud simply a datacenter with lipstick? In other words, is it a virtualized datacenter that has many of the characteristics of a (public) cloud?
Many people in the industry believe that arguing about public and private cloud definitions offers little value and fails to focus on the huge changes that are taking place in the way people implement, operate and use technology.
I disagree. If people are expected to invest millions of dollars in new products and services, it is important that we, in the industry, share common definitions. How can businesses plan when there is no clear understanding of the ways in which they are using technology? As an analyst, it is impossible to size a market if the definition of that market is not clear. So, to all those that say, stop arguing about semantics, I say, rubbish. We need to constantly challenge the marketing spin that comes out of our industry if we are to make sense of it. And step one requires clear definitions. I talked about definitions in previous posts and I made it clear that, in my view, there is only one type of cloud and that is what is commonly known as the public cloud.
Most people in the IT industry understand what is meant by the public cloud and could instantly give you examples of suppliers of public cloud services. Few share a common understanding of the so called private cloud.
This confusion inhibits our ability to focus on the real issues that organisations face today and how they can best ensure that on-premise technology meets their current and future needs, while increasingly using (public) cloud computing services.
Large companies typically have huge amounts of on-premise technologies in which they have invested large amounts over the years. It often doesn’t make sense to throw all of this technology out. Indeed, there are activities that are not suited to the (public) cloud. The reality is that many organisations wish to keep significant chunks of their technology on-premise for a whole host of reasons, some real and some imaginary. For those IT resources that remain on-site, it makes perfect sense to invest in making that technology more efficient and effective. This may involve investing in fabric computing, some new development platforms such as Microsoft’s Azure, virtualization, and datacenter optimization. Rather than describing these investments as private clouds, why not just describe them as they are? There is a huge opportunity here for the large systems integrators and hardware suppliers as well as leading suppliers of infrastructure software.
Inevitably, these same companies will purchase (public) cloud services at an increasing rate over the next decade and can be expected to use these services where it is at all possible, given the huge benefits offered. These companies will be looking to partner with technology companies that can optimize their internal IT architectures and integrate these technologies with the (public) cloud services that are being used. I’ve heard people use the term hybrid cloud to describe these environments. This creates even more confusion. As far as I can gather, a hybrid cloud means everything. It means all of your on-site technology plus all of the resources that you source from (public) cloud providers. It is a term that offers little value. In fact, just about all IT infrastructures could be called hybrid.
So, companies are seeking ways in which their internal IT resources can share some of the characteristics of (public) clouds, given that this is becoming increasingly feasible and cost effective.
Organizations are also looking at migrating an increasing proportion of their resources into the (public) cloud. The integration of (public) cloud resources with internal resources is a key challenge and opportunity for organizations. Cloud-related discussions should indeed focus on these issues.
But, in order to do this, it helps us enormously if we communicate more clearly and call a cloud, a cloud and we call internal resources what they are. There is plenty of terminology that can help us to do this. The term private cloud continues to create a lot of confusion and a lot of debate. I am sure that this nonsensical term will eventually be dumped. I hope that this happens soon.