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The end of the Private Cloud is near, do you really believe that?

on ‎11-21-2013 10:59 AM

Private Cloud.jpgThis morning I read an article titled “The End of the Private Cloud – Five Stages of Loss and Grief” by John Treadway. He starts by pointing out: “It's not today, or tomorrow, but sometime in the not too distant future the bulk of the on-premise private cloud market is going to shrivel into a little raisin and die.” And then describes the fact large companies are in denial of what happens in the public cloud space. I’m sorry, John, but I’m in fundamental disagreement. You portray private cloud versus public, as if the choice is one OR the other. My strong believe is that, once companies understand it is private cloud AND public cloud, they will end-up with the most appropriate solution for their needs.


These articles about the end of private cloud remind me of when I joined HP a long time ago. It was the era of “the dead of the mainframe”. Thirty years later these mainframes are still well and kicking. Why? Because, whether we like it or not, companies see benefits in running them. They will continue to find benefits in running private and managed clouds. Not everything will move to public cloud. And here is why.


Have you listened to the news?

No day is passing or more information is coming to light about governmental surveillance, cyber criminality or industrial espionage. What I can tell you, living in Europe, is that many companies take these threads very seriously and that public cloud companies are far from having convinced their potential customers of the fact they are immune to all this.


I know, you will argue that public cloud environments are more secure than private ones. And actually you might be right on that, but at the same time, large public cloud environments are attracting a lot of attention because of the amount of exploitable information stored on them.


The cloud is global, the law is local

Laws differ by country, by region and even sometimes by county. Privacy, financial and health data for example are highly regulated in many parts of the world. For example I discovered English health information may not be stored outside England. I’m talking about England, not the UK. So, if you happen to have a public cloud with datacenters in Scotland, well, you cannot store your data there.


Sure, one day law will change, but knowing the speed at which the legislative system works, and understanding the fundamentally different way to look at privacy on both sides of the ocean, this will not happen anytime soon.


Ready to allow others to run your core systems?

Enterprises start to realize that not all of their IT systems are of the same importance. Some years ago, Geoffrey Moore introduced us to core versus context. His point is that it is a couple things companies do that make them what they are. The systems supporting those things are core, all other systems are context. For example, at HP, one of our core things is our supply chain. Our HR systems are definitely context. 

They are not making us any different from our competitors.



This leads to two implications. Context systems need to be good enough and can be sourced easily externally, including via SaaS (as long as the legal aspects are taken into account), while core systems are either developed or assembled by the enterprise. They make the company be what it is. Are you ready to run those in a public cloud, in an environment for which you lack transparency, where you have little control over where your systems run? Well, ask yourself the question?

I know what my answer would be. I also know I’d need a lot more reassurance prior to me changing my mind.


Geoffrey Moore comes up with this vision that core mission critical applications should be kept in-house, while context mission critical and non-mission critical applications can move outside. That by the way is the bulk of the applications. I’d definitely put context non-mission critical applications in the public cloud, would probably end-up with context mission critical applications either in a private or a managed cloud, and definitely core mission critical applications in a private cloud.


Cloud is not one size fits all

This is, in my mind where John is wrong. He seems to indicate that over time the specific requirements of all workloads will be addressed in the public cloud. From a technology perspective this may be correct. But frankly, there are also the human aspects to take into account.


So, why not look at a hybrid approach where the core mission-critical workloads are kept in a private cloud, the context mission critical workloads filling the remaining capacity in the private cloud when there is some, and spilling over to a managed cloud when more capacity is required, and the non-mission critical ones running in a public cloud or being consumed as SaaS services.


Using a common technology platform across all three makes life easier, and here is where OpenStack is an ideal approach. Build an OpenStack based private cloud and consume services from OpenStack based managed and public clouds.


Building a brokering platform

The next argument that comes up is that the end-user is not ready to have to jump from one cloud to the other. Well, there is no need for him to do so. Build in your private cloud a brokering capability and you resolve the whole problem. The end-user accesses one portal, uses one service catalog to choose the service he wants to provision, and gets it provisioned in the appropriate cloud. That to me seems the best approach as it allows the enterprise to move workloads from one environment to the next as they evolve from core to context, without having to bother the end-user.


Do I need to run my private cloud?

Another argument John brings forward is that CIOs want to keep running their environments for career and status reasons. Yes that is probably the case for some, but I can tell you that most CIOs I meet have genuine concerns related to compliance, privacy, lack of transparency of public cloud etc. Several actually have taken the decision to “outsource” their private cloud to a trusted partner, so they do no longer need to operate such environments.


And legacy systems in all that?

Purists don’t like hybrid environments and tend to try to convince us of the fact everything should run in a public cloud. Frankly, they are missing the point, because every company that has been out there for a while has legacy systems. Some of them will migrate to cloud, but many won’t. And they will be around for quite a while. Just before the millennium change, a lot of effort was made to upgrade these systems. Does it make sense to upgrade them again? In many situations the answer is not yet. We in IT are great at inventing new things, but frankly we are bad at shutting down older environments and technologies.



Start-ups will be fully in the cloud, and many, particularly in the US, are choosing to do everything on the public cloud. That however is not an indicator that all companies should move the same way. Ironically, a number of the internet start-ups that used public cloud early on, have started to build their own environments. So, having all of us rush to the public cloud may be a nice thought, but it won’t happen in the forseeable future. We are in a complex world, not just driven by technology, but also by legal and human aspects. Building a hybrid environment is the best way forward to address the needs of all parties at an acceptable level of cost and agility. Sorry, John, but I do not buy into your arguments.


Join our discussion on LinkedIN , see what others think and give us your views. Thanks in advance for contributing.

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About the Author


on ‎11-30-2013 04:13 PM

Kudos for having the courage to buck the herd on this Christian.  The private cloud model may well be here for decades to come, and for all of the right reasons you point out.

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