Serverless computing will drive out OpenStack private clouds

As public cloud services grow more compelling, OpenStack and other private cloud efforts are becoming fossils

Serverless computing will drive out OpenStack private clouds
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By now we all (should) know the benefits of serverless computing in the public cloud. InfoWorld’s Eric Knorr provides a good summary of serverless computing’s advantages, so I won’t go into the details here.

What’s most interesting is that as Amazon Web Services, Google, and Microsoft get better and better, the private cloud providers are still moving at a snail’s pace. The public cloud is where we see new technologies take off, such as machine learning, big data, and now serverless computing. By contrast, the private cloud seems like the redheaded stepchild.

What went wrong? Private clouds have been largely tied to OpenStack and other open cloud standards. Although there are huge advantages of using open source, the fact is that all those open-source-based private cloud efforts can’t move as fast as a single company, such as AWS. New technologies take forever to get through the open source process, then forever again to get adopted by all the vendors once formally developed and approved. The open source process explains the glacial pace of private cloud technology.

Only a few years ago, enterprise IT organizations looked to private clouds as a strategy to both do the cloud and maintain control of the hardware. As an excuse to do it themselves, IT organizations cited security and compliance issues—ironically, tasks that the public cloud proividers ended up doing better. Indeed, security on public cloud-based systems is typically twice as good as that of any on-premises systems I deal with these days.

The enterprises that banked on private clouds a few years ago are now having second thoughts, given core advantages of the public cloud, including their fast support for serverless computing, machine learning, and big data, all on demand.

That’s why I see not only the expected migrations of workloads from traditional systems to a public cloud, but migrations from private clouds to public clouds picking up as well. 

Private clouds will continue to grow, but their pace of growth will be exponentially less than that of public clouds. That essentially flat growth will turn into decline. 2017 is the inflection point, the beginning of the end of the short-lived private cloud phenomenon.