Blog post

Private Cloud Computing is Not The Goal

By Tom Bittman | March 22, 2009 | 4 Comments

Future of InfrastructureCloud

priv cld laddInstead, it’s a stepping stone. It’s about embracing cloud concepts earlier, and about enabling the flexibility to use public cloud computing services as soon as they meet requirements. Getting some of the benefits of cloud computing, but contained within the enterprise.

I had a busy week along the west coast, meeting individually with fifteen different clients, presenting about cloud computing to groups in three cities, and doing some deep strategy dives with a few vendors.

Private cloud computing – and the point made in the first paragraph – came up in every conversation. I talked to people who already had private cloud computing services, or had some being developed, or were building technologies to make private cloud computing effective. I also talked to a few companies where private cloud computing will not make sense – a wasted investment, because their needs for the right services will be available in the public cloud soon enough.

The real issue is determining a strategy for each service. Some services are not destined for the cloud, and should evolve in a very different direction. Some services should be converted to a public cloud offering soon. Some services are candidates for the public cloud, but for one reason or another, the public cloud offerings aren’t ready yet.

For the latter services, it’s a question of return on investment. When will the public cloud service be “ready”? What is the cost of doing nothing before I migrate? What kind of investment have I already made internally? Is there a business case for investing in cloud concepts for this service internally? Are there even technologies available that can help me internally?

It will all come down to understanding the enterprise service portfolio, and building a vision and a roadmap for each service. For some of them, private cloud computing might be the way to go.

I’ve been putting a lot of time into this lately. My inquiries have shifted heavily to cloud computing in the past few months (away from server virtualization, another hot topic). I have six research notes in progress on the subject – describing the phenomenon, describing examples of private cloud computing services that others have set up or are in the process of setting up, discussing when it does and does not make sense, etc.

More later!

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  • Paul Miller says:

    This analysis seems reasonable. I’d also suggest that Private Clouds allow the Enterprise to realise some of the Cloud’s benefits without having to grapple fully with their strongly held perception that the public Cloud is insecure, unreliable or otherwise unfit for purpose.

    In a number of conversations in recent weeks, I’m seeing a lot of agreement that Private Clouds will be big… but probably only for the next 18-24 months. By that time, Cloud Computing vendors in the public Cloud will have managed to persuasively demonstrate that *most* people’s data is perfectly safe in the Cloud for *most* purposes, *most* of the time. There will be exceptions, obviously, and for those there may be a niche Private Cloud market in the longer term.

  • Tom Bittman says:

    Enterprises are grappling with the fact that business usually doesn’t know how to quantify/describe service level requirements – IT just delivers. If there are problems, they call IT to fix them. In the end, IT usually over-provisions. Getting used to dealing with cloud providers through a services-oriented interface won’t be a simple change. But in many cases, cloud services will be good enough.

    I agree with your sentiment about trust in public cloud, but I don’t think it will be as rapid as you think (wanna bet?). I think we need to see more ecosystem services that improve monitoring and management (think Rightscale), more providers with solutions targeting specific markets (think health care), perhaps even changes in regulatory and compliance requirements (a tough one), and fewer failures that send enterprises scurrying to their private clouds (think Carbonite).

    I’m sticking with my opinion that enterprises will spend more money with private clouds than public clouds for at least three years. But we are both on basically the same wavelength here.

  • Paul Miller says:

    bet? Oh yes… A beer at the 2011 Gartner ITxpo says 24 months… 🙂

    I agree that we need more ‘ecosystem services,’ but would suggest they’re coming on-stream as every IaaS and PaaS provider worth their salt scrambles to fill the space. In a recent conversation with Michael Crandell ( we touched on this a bit.

    Compliance is definitely a tricky one, although a recent conversation with Salesforce’s Adam Gross (should be out in the next day or two) suggests they weren’t as concerned as I thought they’d be…

  • By what I have read and analyzed about private cloud players (talking about in-premise cloud), most of them typically provide some sort of virtualization automation solutions.

    What will be interesting to see is how IT leverages few of the basic tenants of cloud namely – scalability & utility (if you leave security out of the discussion for the moment). In absence of a multi-tenant environment, the subject of provisioning the “right capacity” to address the elastic demand by certain applications will be a challenge. There might be a tendency to oversize even in private cloud environment. Also there will be applications that will require redesign/recode to adapt to a cloud model.

    In public cloud, an enterprise can leverage the capacity of a cloud provider to address the elastic demand. The hardware is already there and you can just provision on demand. The cloud provider recovers his investment by multi-tenancy.

    In private cloud, the excess capacity still needs to be provisioned by the enterprise IT. In case there are applications whose resource requirements are not conflicting and have different time based demand elasticity, there will be opportunities to leverage the underlying resources in the cloud.