Blog post

Private cloud: Use cases are the key to success

By Alan Waite | April 13, 2015 | 2 Comments

Last year I presented several very popular sessions at Gartner events around the world entitled “Why Private Clouds Fail”. You can see them on if you are a Gartner client, just search for my name. My colleague Tom Bittman has also blogged and published research on this topic, such as Why Are Private Clouds Failing?

So are private clouds already obsolete? Is everything moving to the public cloud?

Certainly public cloud IaaS workloads are growing at about six times the rate of on-premises IaaS and for good reasons. However 80% of workloads are still not on public cloud IaaS (see Tom’s data here), so the short answer is that private workloads are not going away any time soon. Naturally we will see increasing utilization of public cloud over the next several years, but there remains a set of workloads that must be isolated and hosted on dedicated infrastructure due to reasons of security, performance, financial models, compatibility, life cycle control or skill sets.

My observation is that there has been too much emphasis on organizations trying to build their own private cloud IaaS.
This is the most complex and expensive option, and most likely to fail. What is needed is more nuanced thought about the categories of workloads that need to remain “private” and the type of environment in which they should run. Organizations that try to progress from simple virtualization straight to private cloud IaaS often fail because of the skills required, the organizational issues and the unexpected complexity. Many are now considering simpler alternatives to a private cloud IaaS for extending their existing virtualization environment; either as a first step in a journey to full private cloud IaaS or as a long-term solution when combined with public cloud functions.

In my latest research Decision Point for Choosing a Private Cloud Implementation Model I list five alternatives as the next step after virtualizing your private workloads:

  • Virtual workload management
  • Virtual automation
  • Private PaaS
  • Managed/hosted IaaS private cloud
  • Build full-function IaaS private cloud

Build a private cloud service only after you have developed a complete business case analysis for doing so — it is all about ROI, in terms of cost and business value. You can’t outpace public cloud providers in terms of cloud development — pick only what you need for private infrastructure, and implement it well. Understand if you are executing a short- or long-term play for those workloads. Those applications that are best hosted on public cloud infrastructure should be placed there, and the first option for hosting new workloads and Mode 2 applications should be the public cloud.

The key to success for your private workloads is to understand the use cases you are addressing with your private cloud initiative, and to do just enough and only as you need it.

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  • Rajesh says:

    One of the biggest risk enterprises are facing today is over simplification due to commodatization of technology. A free to all service without any sla and security liabilities cannot ever be the norm in our highly digitized world. Or Am I getting really old 🙂

  • Peter Brown says:

    Hi Alen,

    Cheers for your thoughtful blog entry. I would like to add something I read recently about the nascent growth of the cloud market in China.

    The Chinese enterprise IT market has been behind the US for a number of years now, however, it is coming to play catchup. China is now around 4 years behind the US, with it being on the cusp of moving onto the cloud.

    However, rather than opt for public cloud solutions, most larget IT organisations and state owned enterprises are selecting private cloud solutions, with a central reason: security.

    The US and its public offerings are seen as insecure, while even hardware created in US jurisdiction is seen as potentially compromised. To keep its frontier safe they are keeping their info inhouse and behind their own walls.