Private Versus Public Cloud Computing
A plethora of applications are being considered for the cloud, but it may take at least another year before cloud computing goes mainstream in the enterprise.
Earlier this week I wrote about how creating private clouds won't be fast or easy. In addition to virtualizing their infrastructures, organizations will need to rearchitect their applications to standardize them as much as possible. Many experts also advise introducing a chargeback mechanism to acclimate business units to usage-based cost structures.
My IT Business Edge colleague Loraine Lawson hit a similar note in a post about facing up to the cloud's complexity, making the point that clouds (both public and private, but especially private) should be viewed as part of an overall enterprise architecture which, in turn, means thinking about broader issues like governance.
Despite these obvious challenges, IT organizations appear to have big plans for private clouds in the coming year.
Like some other experts, Unisys Chief Technology Officer Fred Dillman predicts organizations will start with targeted investments in private cloud and hosted software-as-a-service applications over the next 12 months, which will then lead to "broader use" of public clouds over the next two to three years.
The article rightly notes a built-in selection bias in the Unisys polls given the company's cloud services expertise, which suggests visitors to its site are already thinking about cloud deployments. But Unisys said its findings appear consistent with overall industry trends. In its 2011 CIO Agenda Survey, Gartner found CIOs will adopt new cloud services much faster than expected. Its analysts predict 43 percent of CIOs will move the majority of their applications to the cloud or SaaS platforms over the next four years.
I'm not surprised by IT organizations' preference for private clouds. Heck, private cloud deployments will offer them a way to sell senior executives on stuff they've been wanting to do for years, optimizing infrastructure and creating a more flexible enterprise architecture. All of those analysts can't be wrong, right? And their opinions do carry weight with execs.
Private clouds also might help them impose some structure on business units' use of the cloud. Instead of having SaaS applications proliferate unchecked like kudzu throughout an enterprise, the idea will be to create a well-prepared plot of land in which the right apps will thrive.
The keys will be deploying private clouds quickly enough to satisfy business units' desire for the competitive advantage they keep hearing clouds can bring and keeping the business in the loop so users feel their needs are receiving enough consideration. To help with the speed, vendors including Unisys, HP, Rackspace and IBM, among others, are rolling out hosted private clouds that can be used while IT organizations build their internal expertise and lay the needed groundwork for internal clouds.
For the latter issue, I found some good advice in a post I wrote way back in 2009:
Sounds a lot like governance, huh? Exactly.