Last week, InfoWorld's David Linthicum made what I think is a very astute and long overdue observation: The term "cloud computing" has approached the point of being meaningless. As he points out, that's not because nobody can agree on what the cloud is or has been created to do, but because every vendor in the IT space is falling over themselves to tell you just how "cloudy" they are -- and spending a mint in marketing dollars to do it. Along the way, they've diluted the term to the point where it's hard to tell what anyone's really talking about anymore.
Far from being an exception to this, the increasing popularity of private clouds has made the problem even worse. Whether it's a server vendor hawking blades and automation software as an all-in-one cloud solution, networking vendors pushing next-gen converged networking gear as a foundation for the cloud, or storage vendors selling you "cloud storage," it's difficult to get any of them to describe how their gear fits into the bigger picture.
Maybe this is a good time for me to take my own advice and ask why -- why is the concept of the private cloud attractive in the first place? What problems are we trying to solve by implementing one? And in the most practical sense, what real-life components do we need to put together to fully deliver on its promise? Make no mistake, every level of the data center infrastructure has a critical part to play in a well-oiled private cloud. But due to the marketing FUD permeating the marketplace, it's sometimes difficult to see how they're supposed to fit together.
Why private cloud?
At the most basic level, most businesses want one very simple thing: to spend less time and money building and managing infrastructure and more resources directly adding value to the business. From a business standpoint, IT infrastructure is an expensive and time-consuming distraction to getting actual work done.