Why in Spite of the Numbers Private Cloud Will be Prominent for Years to Come


Why in Spite of the Numbers Private Cloud Will be Prominent for Years to Come

Public cloud is the way forward, it's cheaper, has better scale, probably better security than most in house IT solutions and it allows your IT team to focus on business benefit higher up the stack. So, why am I saying Private Cloud will be here for some time to come?


1.      Inappropriate Business Risk Evaluation:

a.      When it comes to protecting the company jewels, risks are to be avoided at all costs. Unfortunately, few organizations (biz or IT) have the maturity to effectively measure actual risk value. Considering the business has a very low appetite for risk to their IT systems, IT will be able to play on that risk for years to come, thereby avoiding any changes that involve moving critical IT systems/applications to Public Cloud. Lastly, there will be further missteps with the Public Cloud providers that will give internal IT all the ammunition they need to justify staying in-house.

2.      Market opportunity:

a.      Gartner predicts that the Cloud Market will be nearly $150 billion by 2014. While there are many groups making predictions (UBS, Gartner, Forrester, IDC, etc), generally speaking the prognosis is bullish to say the least. Why is the size of the market important? It's important because it drives behavior by the companies trying to maintain or grow their slice of the cloud revenue pie. Does anyone really believe that IBM, HP, Dell, NetApp, Cisco, EMC, VMware, Citrix & others are just going to lie down and let 4-5 "Amazons" be the world's clouds? They can't afford to ignore this change any more than a firefighter can ignore wind direction when fighting a forest fire. The vendors who have traditionally supported enterprise IT will do everything in their power to demonstrate the viability of private cloud. They will make it easier to setup and more efficient to own, all while heavily marketing the risks of going Public.

3.      IT isn't anywhere near being commodity yet:

a.      There has been much discussion about the "commoditization" of IT as a result of cloud. Specifically, that there won't be any need for internally built infrastructure anymore. That the future of IT will be to buy platform services from external providers and that those providers will be the ones worried about how to manage the physical assets. To some degree, this prediction is real, but I strongly believe it misses two things:

                                                    i.     The human equation: As humans still run IT, decisions about the future of IT organizations and IT roles, will be driven by "base" human needs and concerns, not purely by what might appear logical. As a leader, I learned very early that to ignore the human equation is to fail.

                                                   ii.     IT at all levels still has considerable development left in it. Even today we don't have everyone using white box servers, why is that? It's because the vendors are still offering differentiation that appeals to the buyer. I've said this before, but it bears repeating, "IT is like a painter's pallet. The painter may have the same brush, and the same colors, but will still create a new and unique painting every time".

4.      IT Organizations will respond:

a.      As IT organizations come to grips with the change Cloud brings to IT infrastructure, application ownership and organization design, they will start their own internal efforts to protect what they do. What's the best way to protect your job, innovate and improve, demonstrate how being internal and close to the business can still provide "perceived" value, regardless of what Amazon, HP, or Terramark are selling in the Cloud?

5.      10 Years to get 50% of IT into the public cloud:

a.      Over time IT organizations will change their job descriptions and ability to contribute at new levels. These role changes combined with public cloud providers becoming institutionalized will allow that move.  There will also be a slow retirement of traditional IT infrastructure specialists over the next 10 years and the majority of IT talent coming out of college will want to focus on other aspects of IT (I.e., application development, delivery and business representation). The above mentioned changes will naturally increase the percentage of IT work being done in public clouds.

6.      Within the next 10 years several large cloud providers of today will be gone or dying:

a.      This may seem like an obvious prediction, but it's not. My prediction is more related to cloud providers being caught in technology "change" traps that cost them their margins, as opposed to just being unable to execute an effective cloud offering.

I fully realize that there is controversy around this topic, but also believe that discussion and debate are the best ways to learn. Through sharing our concerns in an open forum more of us are likely to accept and internalize new ideas. In a similar vein to a blog I wrote a while back about Amazon I referenced the fact that yelling at us about what the right solution or option is isn't likely to make us change our behavior.  I look forward to your comments and tweets on this subject.



Very accurate picture

Good aggregate of popular thinking on private cloud. Of course, there are good reasons to keep on-premise infrastructure, but does that necessarily require all the acoutrements of cloud computing? For example, isn't it enough to have a virtualized server environment connected to a SAN for hosting certain corporate applications that need to remain on-premise? Do we really need to incorporate the controls for cloud computing, such as billing, monitoring, self-service? Shouldn't we have a good idea because of capacity management how to manage those resources as close to fully utilized as possible (see http://blogs.smartronix.com/cloud-computing/240 regarding my blog on capacity management and cloud computing).

Re: Very accurate picture

I tend to agree that just because you can put something in the cloud, doesn't necessarily mean it always has to be in the cloud. Generally speaking I think it's a factor of internal vs. external. If you've decided that a particular workload is better suited for internal management, then you also have to make considerations for what your internal team can effectively support. A good example would be something like Openview from HP. Great product, but in most cases it's way to complex and costly to manage for a small to mid sized shop to ever justify putting it in. The cost/complexity far outweighs the benefit over a "good-enough" solution like a "What's up Gold".

Large Companies Against Public Clouds


I enjoyed your blog but disagree on your statement that the large companies are going to only promote private clouds and market against public clouds. In fact, all the companies you list are actively creating a public cloud solutions to their exisitng private cloud products. I can't say I have seen the type of anti-publc cloud marketing that you write about. Can you provide some more examples?


Stephen Spector

Re: Large Companies against public clouds

Hi Stephen,

Thanks for the comment.

It's not so much that all of the big box vendors (HP, IBM, Dell, EMC, NetApp) will be "against" public cloud, but they will have a split personality. They will be attempting to straddle the Pub/Priv cloud divide by providing some assurances that "their" public cloud offering is somehow safer, while also giving you reason to buy more hardware from them for your private cloud that they know you'll be building. As for VMware, Citrix, & others, they will find that the only way to make real money is to find more ways to sell to the enterprise.