Does the private cloud actually exist? Some public cloud providers and industry analysts say the private cloud is really just a virtualized data centre. Others — including large enterprise vendors — say it’s the only real option for Canadians, considering security and privacy issues.
Most, however, wouldn’t argue that one of the greatest potential benefits of the cloud is cost savings through scale. Originally, when people started talking about cloud, they didn’t make the distinction between public and private, but now it’s become a rather heated debate.
What happened is that many traditional enterprise vendors started to see the cloud as a threat, said Ronald Schmelzer, managing partner with ZapThink. The public cloud threatened to permanently move IT resources outside of organizations, so those vendors jumped on the cloud bandwagon with “private” cloud.
But that, he said, kills the benefit of cost savings. “If you own the cloud, you’re not going to see any economic advantage. Anyone who says they are doesn’t understand it or is being misleading.”
If organizations want dynamic provisioning or pooled resources that they can bring online or offline as needed, they can take the same architectural approach as the public cloud and apply their own internal resources. “When Joe in finance needs some resources, he’s going to get it dynamically provisioned by the pool, and maybe get some economic benefit from not having to buy another server,” said Schmelzer.
But while that borrows some of the architectural components of cloud, it’s a different concept; in fact, the public cloud becomes competition for these same resources. “The whole idea of the cloud should be about economies of scale,” he said. The public cloud is a trajectory, since a lot of small companies, especially startups, are simply not buying infrastructure anymore. “This goes back to the so-called private cloud strategy. A lot of it’s going to be a handful of large enterprise vendors working with their own customer groups.”
One of the essential characteristics of a cloud is that it’s measured and paid for as a service, so if you build it yourself, it’s not a cloud, said A.J. Byers, executive vice-president of business services with Primus.
“I’ve had debates around whether a company can build a private cloud and I would say no,” he said. But he does believe in the private cloud — only one hosted by a third party. “As a service provider we can build public and private clouds and hybrids of that as well.”
What defines private cloud, he said, is that the resources are offered to a single organization. And the No. 1 reason why customers are choosing private cloud is because of a perception that it’s more secure — which is a huge technology debate right now.