On Appirio’s Prediction: The Rise & Fall Of Private Clouds
I was invited to add my comments to Appirio’s corporate blog in response to my opinions of their 2009 prediction “Rise and Fall of the Private Cloud,” but as I mentioned in kind on Twitter, debating a corporate talking point on a company’s blog is like watch two monkeys trying to screw a football; it’s messy and nobody wins.
However, in light of the fact that I’ve been preaching about the realities of phased adoption of Cloud — with Private Cloud being a necessary step — I thought I’d add my $0.02. Of course, I’m doing so while on vacation, sitting on an ancient lava flow with my feet in the ocean in Hawaii, so it’s likely to be tropical in nature.
Short and sweet, here’s Appirio’s stance on Private Cloud:
Here’s the rub: Private clouds are just an expensive data center with a fancy name. We predict that 2009 will represent the rise and fall of this over-hyped concept. Of course, virtualization, service-oriented architectures, and open standards are all great things for every company operating a data center to consider. But all this talk about “private clouds” is a distraction from the real news: the vast majority of companies shouldn’t need to worry about operating any sort of data center anymore, cloud-like or not.
It’s clear that we’re talking about very different sets of companies. If we’re referring to SME/SMB’s, then I think it’s fair to suggest the sentiment above is valid.
If we’re talking about a large, heavily-regulated enterprise (pick your industry/vertical) with sunk costs and the desire/need to leverage the investment they’ve made in the consolidation, virtualization and enterprise modernization of their global datacenter footprints and take it to the next level, leveraging capabilities like automation, elasticity, and chargeback, it’s poppycock.
Further, it’s pretty clear that the hybrid model of Cloud will ultimately win in this space with the adoption of BOTH Public and Private Clouds where and when appropriate.
The idea that somehow companies can use “private cloud” technology to offer their employees web services similar to Google, Amazon, or salesforce.com will lead to massive disappointment.
So now the definition of “Cloud” is limited to “web services” and is defined by “Google, Amazon, or Salesforce.com?”
I call this MyopiCloud. If this is the only measure of Cloud success, I’d be massively disappointed, also.
Onto the salient points:
- Private clouds are sub-scale: There’s a reason why most innovative cloud computing providers have their roots in powering consumer web technology—that’s where the numbers are. Very few corporate data centers will see anything close to the type of volume seen by these vendors. And volume drives cost—the world has yet to see a truly “at scale” data center.
Interesting. If we hang the definition of “at scale” solely on Internet-based volume, I can see how this rings true. However, large enterprises with LANs and WANs with multi-gigabit connectivity feeding server farms and client bases of internal constituents (not to mention extranet connections) need to be accounted for in that assessment, especially if we’re going to be honest about volume. Limiting connectivity to only the Internet is unreasonable.
Certainly most enterprises are not autonomically elastic (neither are most Cloud providers today) but that’s why comparing apples to elephants is a bit silly, even with the benefits that virtualization is beginning to deliver in the compute, network and storage realms.
I know of an eCommerce provider who reports trafficing in (on average) 15 Gb/s of sustained HTTP traffic via its Internet feeds. Want to guess what the internal traffic levels are inside what amounts to it’s Private Cloud at that level of ingress/egress? Oh, did I just suggest that this “enterprise” is already running a “Private Cloud?” Why yes, yes I did. See James Watter’s interesting blog on something similar titled “Not So Fast Public Cloud: Big Players Still Run Privately.”
There’s no secret sauce: There’s no simple set of tricks that an operator of a data center can borrow from Amazon or Google. These companies make their living operating the world’s largest data centers. They are constantly optimizing how they operate based on real-time performance feedback from millions of transactions. (check out this presentation from Jeff Barr and Peter Coffee at the Architecture and Integration Summit). Can other operators of data centers learn something from this experience? Of course. But the rate of innovation will never be the same—private data centers will always be many, many steps behind the cloud.
Really? So technology such as Eucalyptus or VMware’s vCloud/Project Redwood doesn’t play here? Certainly leveraging the operational models and technology underpinnings (regardless of volume) should allow an enterprise to scale massively, even it it’s not at the same levels, no? The ability to scale to the needs of the business are important, even if you never do so at the scale of an AWS. I don’t really understand this point. My bandwidth is bigger than your bandwidth?
You can’t teach an old dog new tricks: What do you get when you move legacy applications as-is to a new and improved data center? Marginal improvements on your legacy applications. There’s only so much you can achieve without truly re-platforming your applications to a cloud infrastructure… you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Now that’s not entirely fair…. You can certainly teach an old dog to be better behaved. But it’s still an old dog.
Woof! It’s really silly to suggest that the only thing an enterprise will do is simply move “legacy applications as-is to a new and improved data center” without any enterprise modernization, any optimization or the ability to more efficiently migrate to new and improved applications as the agility, flexibility and mobility issues are tackled. Talk about pissing on fire hydrants!
On-premise does not equal secure: the biggest driver towards private clouds has been fear, uncertainty, and doubt about security. For many, it just feels more secure to have your data in a data center that you control. But is it? Unless your company spends more money and energy thinking about security than Amazon, Google, and Salesforce, the answer is probably “no.” (Read Craig Balding walk through “7 Technical Security Benefits of Cloud Computing”)
I’ve got news for you, just as on-premise does “…not equal secure,” neither does off-premise assure such. I offer you this post as an example with all it’s related posts for color.
Please show me empirically that Amazon, Google or Salesforce spends “…more money and energy thinking about security” than, say, a Fortune 100 company. Better yet, please show me how I can be, say, PCI compliant using AWS? Oh, right…Please see the aforementioned posts…especially the one that demonstrates how the most public security gaffes thus far in Cloud are related to the providers you cite in your example.
May I suggest that being myopic and mixing metaphors broadly by combining the needs and business drivers of the SME/SMB and representing them as that of large enterprises is intellectually dishonest.
Let’s be real, Appirio is in the business of “Enabling enterprise adoption of on-demand for Salesforce.com and Google Enterprise” — two examples of externally hosted SaaS offerings that clearly aren’t aimed at enterprises who would otherwise be thinking about Private Cloud.
Oops, the luau drums are sounding.