Judith Hurwitz, president of the consulting firm Hurwitz & Associates, is co-author of the recently published "Cloud Computing for Dummies." Earlier this month, she graciously agreed to talk with me about how companies are experimenting with cloud computing and the integration challenges they're facing.
One thing that became clear during our discussion is why companies are so interested in this concept of the private cloud-which, to tell you the truth, I'd sort of suspected was some sort of marketing gimmick for vendors looking for a new angle on their SOA offerings.
As it turns out, not so much-or, at least, that's not what's motivating companies to pursue private cloud. Hurwitz found that companies want to try cloud offerings-whether that's infrastructure, SaaS or platform-as-a-service-but they still don't quite trust public cloud vendors. So, to gain experience with cloud, they segregate an area within their data center, add some self-provisioning and an interface, and let business users experiment on their private cloud.
Hurwitz explained one reason why CIOs are so eager to gain cloud experience:
One of the things that's driving people to look at both public and private cloud is that they need a much more dynamic way to get access to the resources they need. What we heard a lot was CIOs saying (is) the CEO is coming to me and saying, Why can't the IT department be more like Google or Amazon? My guy is telling me they can go to Google or Amazon and within 10 minutes they have a resource they need. Why can't you guys act that way?'
As it turns out, a private cloud isn't just a more secure way to experiment with the cloud, it's also one possible solution to cloud's integration challenges, according to a recent TDWI Q&A with Kenneth Ziegler, president and chief operating officer of Logicworks.
The interview covers the difference between private and public cloud offerings, which Ziegler defines a bit differently than Hurwitz, but I think the point still holds about private cloud being less of a hassle and so a good way to gain experience.
Ziegler begins by explaining that the public cloud isn't designed for steady-state applications and offers little or no customer support. Private cloud hosting, on the other hand, gives you access to "engineering expertise," which obviously goes a long way to address integration issues, Ziegler explains:
Private cloud hosting provides a level of IT operations integration that cannot be achieved via public clouds. This integration gives enterprises the assurances they need in order to trust their most critical applications to outside parties. Private clouds should be deployed for applications and content that requires performance, compliance, security, and committed resources.
Obviously, I wouldn't think private clouds, as defined by Ziegler, would be as easily integrated into your enterprise applications as the private clouds Hurwitz defines. But, at least there are options, depending on how bold you're willing to be-and how much integration work you're willing to tackle.
By the way, if you'd like to see an earlier interview with Hurwtiz, check out what she said about how smart companies do SOA.