Everybody’s talking about Private Cloud these days, and I think that’s great. There have been a number of really good posts and articles about it lately and I think the more people writing and thinking and implementing Private Cloud strategies and ideas the better. An informative and frankly tactically -in the best sense of the word-focused article I’ve enjoyed is A Private Cloud is Called IT by Mike Fratto over at Network Computing.
Mike, thankfully, begins by defining terms stating that a Private Cloud is one which is “wholly hosted in your data center”. I think this is the most realistic definition at the moment and my hope is that soon we will be able to extend that to be one that is managed, provisioned, secured and is compliant as if it was wholly hosted in your data center. I think he’s underestimating some of the benefits of the Private Cloud at this point versus an IaaS solution primarily because I’ve yet to see an apples to apples IaaS offering. The service levels, availability, performance, etc. just don’t exist to compete against a Private Cloud. The cost savings associated with Private Cloud are dramatic when done at scale, and I certainly haven’t seen many organizations doing IaaS at similar scales, it’s just not realistic at the moment. That being said the savings disparity between the solutions is a temporary one, the Public Cloud solutions will catch up, as will the bandwidth capabilities to allow massive migrations to them. In the meantime, the next 18 to 36 months in my opinion, Private Cloud certainly is the way to go, better savings, better security, better compliance, and more easily implemented and more importantly more easily migrated to. Let me add the caveat again, at scale! Taking 1 application, a set of call center users, a dev environment, etc. is not at scale. I’m talking entire lines of business, entire data center, or class of applications. Mike is absolutely on in regards to the steps required to get you to an automated data center, or Private Cloud and nails the reason for doing so: “leaving you with more time to work on more interesting tasks”. Or to put in my vernacular: allowing your engineers and architects to work on innovation and new offerings for the business rather than keeping the lights on. There are many studies out there that show that IT spend is focused mostly on keeping the lights on, some estimates are as high as 75%, and not on innovation and new services for the business.
Private Cloud is the new paradigm of IT, it’s not a sea-change, or a bolt from the blue, but I believe the next evolution of enterprise IT. Mike does a great job listing out several key steps specific to his realization of an automated data center that help enable the Private Cloud. His are very focused on the Infrastructure component of the transformation required. I think that there are two other key components in the transformation to Private Cloud: Applications, what is my right-sized Application Portfolio, what is my cloud sourcing strategy for those rationalized Applications, and how can I develop new Applications that benefit from the new paradigm; and Governance, what are the policies and processes required to manage the new paradigm, what do I automate, how do I secure the environment, what is the fewest number of IT controls I can implement to be compliant and what is the unified console that provides be the transparent insight into my environment from resource management, risk and compliance perspectives. It’s important to make progress against the Application, Infrastructure and Governance components in a relatively lock step fashion, getting too far out ahead in the maturation and implementation of one of the components leads to poor benefits realization efficiency and can actually cause the other areas to regress.