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Talk of Clouds (and Virtualization) in Orlando

by Tom Bittman  |  October 22, 2009  |  7 Comments

clouds over dolphinAt this week’s Gartner Symposium in Orlando, there was a noticeable shift in the end user discussions regarding virtualization and cloud computing, and a few surprises:

1) In my presentation on server virtualization on Monday, before I started, I asked the audience how many of them considered private cloud computing to be a core strategy of theirs. 75% raised their hands (I expected maybe one-third). Clearly, everyone has a different idea of what private cloud computing means (or doesn’t), but the fact that so many people have glommed onto the term is very interesting.

I described the three most common things that were being described as private clouds:

  • IT defending its turf: Shared services that were being re-labelled as private clouds (but without a self-service interface, or much automation at all)
  • Vendors defending their products: Old products being re-labelled as private clouds in a box (I described most of these as “lipstick on a pig”)
  • Advanced server virtualization deployments: Although few have a true self-service interface, the intention is certainly there

2) My one-on-ones shifted heavily from virtualization toward cloud computing and private cloud computing. I had 18 one-on-ones that discussed server virtualization, and 26 that discussed cloud and private cloud.

3) Several one-on-ones were very interesting: one company with more than 5,000 VMs heading toward 10,000; maybe a dozen that were focused entirely on taking their leading-edge virtualization infrastructure into private cloud; three companies considering discussions with Terremark on possibly licensing their service interface and usage metering software (they know VMware will probably deliver something in a year, but don’t want to wait); several users wondering what Microsoft’s virtualization strategy was, and especially whether they were focused on private cloud computing as a next step; one that questioned VMware’s vendor maturity with respect to customer relationships (felt that Microsoft did an excellent job with TAMs and so forth to truly work with the customer as a trusted advisor – while VMware’s TAMs were more like communications conduits).

4) In my “debate” with analyst Eric Knipp (on the topic of public vs. private cloud computing), we took a vote at the beginning and end of the session to test audience opinions on the subject. At the beginning, about 15% felt that public cloud computing would “win” (the question was intentionally vague to let the attendee decide what “win” meant). About two-thirds though that private cloud computing would win. By the end of the debate, perhaps a few more thought public cloud would win, about 40% thought private cloud, and about 40% voted otherwise (which included a hybrid model). I suppose the surprise to me (yet again – do I never learn?) was the overall momentum in the concept of private cloud.

The challenge with private cloud computing, of course, is to dispel the vendor hype and the IT protectionism that is hiding there, and to ensure the concept is being used in the right way – as a stepping-stone to public cloud, based on a timing window, the lack of a mature public cloud alternative and a good business case to invest internally.

Category: cloud  virtualization  

Tags: cloud-computing  private-cloud  virtualization  

Thomas J. Bittman
VP Distinguished Analyst
20 years at Gartner
31 years IT industry

Thomas Bittman is a vice president and distinguished analyst with Gartner Research. Mr. Bittman has led the industry in areas such as private cloud computing and virtualization. Mr. Bittman invented the term "real-time infrastructure," which has been adopted by major vendors and many… Read Full Bio

Thoughts on Talk of Clouds (and Virtualization) in Orlando

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  3. Phil Morris says:

    Your last paragraph has me wondering what’s your vantage on all this?

    \The challenge with private cloud computing, of course, is to dispel the vendor hype and the IT protectionism that is hiding there\

    Excellent point! However, you then move on to say:

    \and to ensure the concept is being used in the right way – as a stepping-stone to public cloud, based on a timing window, the lack of a mature public cloud alternative and a good business case to invest internally.\

    Where is it written that pure public cloud is the \right way\??? I certainly agree that more and more can be moved to the public cloud, but at best it will only become an 80% solution where the other 20% is too sensitive, too critical, too big (think of a DBMS on an IBM P595 or Sun M9000), too old (think of the number of apps out there still running business/mission critical but are stuck on Solaris 2.5.1 or HP-UX 9 or whatever), etc to move to the cloud.

    By the time all of those types of things get fixed, we’ll be well into a new way of doing ICT business 😉

  4. […] Gartner distinguished analyst Tom Bittman, who covers cloud computing and virtualization,  posted some thoughts and observations from the Gartner Symposium in […]

  5. David Brandt says:

    Didn’t make it to Symposium this year, so thanks for sharing the quick perspective Tom. Most readers and customers seem fairly saavy at cutting through the ball of (cloud) confusion once the conversations turn to applying the underlying IT to their business objectives — whatever the wrapper is called. Definitely no expert here (@DavidATDell), but still not sold on an either/or scenario for private or public clouds. Seems resonable, or at least realistic, that there are some environments better served inside a private cloud. Barton’s blog took the issue up further. Other cloud conversations going on

  6. Tom Bittman says:

    I stepped too far here. I don’t mean to imply that every private cloud service will eventually find a home in a public cloud service. What I really am trying to say that private cloud services should be designed with potential migration in mind. If a cloud service comes along at the right price, security, service levels, you want the option to migrate there. The reason I focus on this so much is I worry about organizations building very proprietary private cloud services that lock them into an architecture and give them fewer choices in the future – for migration or hybrid modes.

    On the other hand, I am sure there will be services that will never have a business case in public clouds (at least, meeting the SLA and security needs of all users) – so some private clouds will live on.


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