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Is “Private cloud” the “clean coal” of IT?

by David M. Smith  |  May 15, 2009  |  1 Comment

Been thinking about this for a while. Actually tweeted it a few weeks ago but nobody noticed it but when I spoke it, people seemed to really like it.  The similarities are striking.

There is lots written on clean coal.  I quite enjoyed a take in the Washington Post.

The interblogs has no shortage of opinion on the private cloud subject as well. For example

As usual, there is some truth to both sides.  There are ways to burn coal more cleanly than we do today, and there are ways to use cloud concepts internally.  The issue is when people assume that the extreme case is the norm.  But it isn’t – you don’t get 100% clean coal (no pollution whatsoever), nor do you get all of the benefits of public cloud computing in most so-called private cloud implementations.  What we get is exaggeration and self serving claims (e.g., “well run data centers” and SOAs are clouds).

In both cases, we have a highly politicized subject with people on one side or the other that may cause some surprise. There are examples of users and vendors on both sides.  Just like with clean coal, we find democrats and republicans on both sides. Similarly, you will find a microcosm within the analyst community, the vendor community and the blogosphere.

But in both cases (clean coal and private clouds ),we get people with agendas getting their agendas fed and the result is confusion.

How long before we get commercials (maybe not on TV) promoting private clouds and the opposite? I guess if you count blogs, we’re there already.

The biggest similarity of all is that in both cases, basically it comes down to “if you say it enough, people believe it.”


David Mitchell Smith
VP & Gartner Fellow
16 years at Gartner
30 years IT industry

David Mitchell Smith is a vice president and Gartner Fellow in Gartner Research, where he specializes in the impact of catalytic technologies such as the Internet, Web 2.0, cloud computing and consumer technologies. Read Full Bio

Thoughts on Is “Private cloud” the “clean coal” of IT?

  1. rebecca says:

    Nice parallel David. The EPA and DOE agree:

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