Are Private Clouds More Than Vapor?

Cloud Computing3 minutes readOct 12th, 2011

I have been invited to be a Plenary speaker at the Computer Measurement Group (CMG) on December 7th in Washington, D.C.  CMG is a not-for-profit, worldwide organization of IT professionals committed to sharing information and best practices.  Their focus is on ensuring the efficiency and scalability of IT service delivery to the enterprise through measurement, quantitative analysis and forecasting. This year’s theme is “Optimizing IT Infrastructures.”  When I was invited, I was grappling with a very common question, which is “what the heck IS a private cloud, anyway?”

As the chief architect for Unisys Cloud solutions, including the Unisys Secure Private Cloud, I was having trouble helping customers visualize the value of a private cloud.  Most of us pretty much understand the value of public clouds, such as Amazon or Terremark.  There is no requirement to pay up-front capital costs for the infrastructure on which the cloud sits.  By removing up-front costs, you can use a thousand servers for an hour and then shut them all down, without the fuss and cost of installation and deployment of the infrastructure.  We also understand the new world order of server virtualization, which allows servers to be created in a “cloud” of virtualized servers.  So how do we characterize the unique value of a private cloud?

This was the subject I picked to discuss in December.  After talking to practitioners and reviewing various viewpoints and definitions of private clouds, I came to a number of conclusions that I will present in December.  Here are some of my thoughts.

In a private cloud, you cannot avoid those up-front costs.  After using your thousand servers for an hour, the infrastructure does not magically evaporate.  On the other hand, the private cloud offers a unique value that we take for granted in the public cloud.  This is the value of extreme automation.  Public clouds have implemented this extreme automation to deploy virtual machines at a low cost.  It is this invisible quality of automation that helps reduce data center cost and manage the cloud in a manner that is far more optimal than what can be realized through virtualization alone.  Along with these ideas, I will be discussing the role of hybrid applications (applications that span multiple clouds) in a Hybrid Enterprise, as well as the need for capacity planning to effectively manage the cloud infrastructure.

Recently, I was approached to write an article for Enterprise Systems Journal, “Are Private Clouds More Than Just Vapor?”  So, in addition to developing the slides for my presentation, I wrote a brief paper touching on some of those salient points.  I hope you can take a few minutes to read it.

Please feel free to contact me with your comments and ideas.

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