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Private cloud does not exist

28 Nov 2013

Private cloud does not exist. At least, not in the sense that they are somehow related to true cloud computing offerings.

I know they’re there in the NIST definition of cloud computing as a deployment model. It’s certainly a term that gets thrown around meeting rooms as though it were a real thing. But if we’re honest, it’s not.

It’s the deluded labelling of on-premise virtualised environments to help vendors or IT departments pretend they’re embracing cloud.

Why do I say this? Well, it’s because “private clouds” don’t give organisations the benefits they should expect from cloud computing.

Whilst there’s a number of aspects to the benefits organisations can expect from true cloud computing, and it does vary, the things people are typically expecting are things like: agility, converting capex to opex, paying for what they use, unrestricted scaling, increased security, high availability, and freeing themselves from managing infrastructure and applications.

The simple litmus test I use to test “is it cloud?” is something from George Reese. In his book Cloud Application Architectures he asks the following simple questions to test if something is cloud:

* The service is accessible via a web browser or web services API.

* Zero capital expenditure is required to get started.

* You pay only for what you use as you use it.

* If you aren’t getting a relatively straightforward “yes” – then it’s not cloud. It’s really that simple.

And that’s where your private cloud dreams start to fall apart. Private clouds require capital expenditure to get started – lots of it. Hardware, data-centre space etc.

If you decide to stop using it – you’re going to keep paying for it – at least until you start firing your IT staff and selling old servers on TradeMe. You’re also unlikely to be seeing increases in other non-functional areas such as security and high availability.

Don’t get me wrong – the activities behind many organisations efforts to realise the “private cloud” are useful. Virtualising your environments will give you efficiency.

Understanding how your services/applications are consumed internally and how you might “charge” for them internally in utility-style model is going to be useful.

Giving IT teams a greater level of self-service will improve your agility. But it ain’t cloud. Not even close.

By James Valentine - Chief Technology Officer, Fronde

Does private cloud exist? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below

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