Which Cloud Is the Right Cloud?

Arthur Cole
Slide Show

Five Mistakes Companies Make in Their Cloud Strategies

Learn how to capture the full potential of the cloud.

If converting static data infrastructure into a cloud was simply a matter of provisioning the right resources and deploying a select platform, it would be a no-brainer.

But the fact is we are talking about a fundamental re-imagining of the enterprise environment from the ground up. CIOs are faced with a thousand decisions ranging from physical and virtual infrastructure design to data and application security and availability. A poor decision at any level, or failure to envision the effect that changes in one area will have on another, could set the conversion back months, if not kill it altogether.

That's why most experts will tell you that having a clear understanding of what you hope to accomplish in the cloud is the first, and most crucial, step to take. In fact, says Unsiphere Research's Joe McKendrick, forget about the cloud altogether and focus on what you really need: a well-designed, integrated data environment. As IT assumes a greater leadership role in the deployment of both public and private cloud services, it's becoming clear that proper functionality is increasingly reliant on governance and organization rather than raw technology. After all, it's easy to build up and break down infrastructure in the cloud. It's much more difficult to ensure that everyone is playing by the same rules.

Note, though, that proper control can only be maintained on a private cloud, according to IDC's Eric Domage. A fully private environment is merely the natural extension of already virtualized infrastructure, and it is the only way to ensure that end-to-end encryption and governance policies can be maintained. Most public cloud instances are provisioned by business units for short-term projects, which makes it difficult to ensure basic management and security.

True enough, counters ZDNet's Phil Wainwright, but without a Web interface, a private cloud will fail to meet your data requirements unless you also invest in massive upgrades. That's why the whole public vs. private cloud is a red herring. A properly designed infrastructure will have elements of both, and it will be no more or less secure than today's Web-connected office. Note that some of the largest public cloud providers like Amazon and Salesforce use private clouds on the back end.

In reality, echoes Google's Adam Swidler, there is only one type of cloud, the public cloud. In key areas like capital and operational expense, availability, scalability and compatibility with mobile platforms, so-called private clouds fail to provide the same benefits as public clouds even though risks to security and availability are the same. By nature, public clouds are also increasingly adopting open systems and standards like HTML5, JavaScript and CSS, while private clouds will continue to mire the enterprise in proprietary systems for some time to come.

Clearly, then, we can expect traditional platform providers to keep touting the benefits of private clouds while the cloud providers argue for public ones. It's kind of like buying a new car where every dealer has a chart showing the superiority of their make and model based on select criteria like rear-seat left-shoulder room or high-RPM compression ratios.

In the end, you go with what your knowledge and experience tell you is right. Just make sure you remain flexible enough to change strategies if things don't go as planned.

Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post

Post a comment





(Maximum characters: 1200). You have 1200 characters left.



Subscribe to our Newsletters

Sign up now and get the best business technology insights direct to your inbox.