The ignorant jump onto the private cloud bandwagon

Most enterprises are moving to private cloud computing without understanding why -- here's what they should know

The strange thing about cloud computing is that business IT loves the idea of shareable and inexpensive resources delivered over the Internet, but in practice, many enterprises are opting to build their own cloud environments. I suspect that in many cases there are no core technical reasons behind this decision other than the need for control supported by a good list of excuses that are ready to go when IT is grilled by management about its cloud strategy. At the same time, many enterprises are using public clouds though perhaps they have no business doing so, at least in a few instances. How do you know which cloud approach is right for you?

The trade-off is clear. When using internal cloud computing, you don't benefit from the core value of cloud computing: sharing. You buy the hardware and lease the data center space, and you're in charge of the ongoing operations, just like before. Even with the technical benefits of cloud infrastructure (its high degree of standardization, for example), you end up with a diminished benefit.

[ Get the no-nonsense explanations and advice you need to take real advantage of cloud computing in the InfoWorld editors' 21-page Cloud Computing Deep Dive PDF special report. | Stay up on the cloud with InfoWorld's Cloud Computing Report newsletter. ]

Having seen this trend, the vendors have been tossing cloud-in-a-box products into the market as quickly as they can get the new stickers on the existing servers. Take Oracle's ExaLogic cloud box as the latest entry into the "quick private cloud" offerings, joining Hewlett-Packard, IBM, and most other enterprise IT providers that are looking to remain relevant by slapping on the cloud label.

However, there are some solid core reasons for using a private rather than a public cloud. Here are a few:

Compliance compels you. You have a specific regulation that does not allow data to exist on servers outside your control. I've found this requirement to be rare, and in many instances the compliance issues are poorly understood.

Performance is paramount. If you're using applications that have to send and receive a great amount of data, and the latency of the Internet is not acceptable, then public clouds may not be for you. This does not excuse, however, poorly designed "chatty" applications. 

You have special security needs. The battle cry of those looking to use private clouds is often the security concerns of using public clouds. However, these concerns don't always address legitimate issues: Security in the clouds, public or private, is what you make of it. There are many unsecure private clouds and many very secure public clouds. You have to make that call based on your own requirements, not simply on fear.

You have special application needs. While most internal software resources are replicated in the clouds, a few are not. You may have special application requirements, such as special data storage, or other technical issues that keep you in the private space.

Hopefully, as you move forward and make critical calls around when and where to use private clouds instead of public ones, you'll look at the solutions logically -- and not just secretly make it about loving your server farm.

This article, "The ignorant jump onto the private cloud bandwagon," originally appeared at InfoWorld.com. Read more of David Linthicum's Cloud Computing blog and follow the latest developments in cloud computing at InfoWorld.com.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

How to choose a low-code development platform