The bottom line in any enterprise cloud discussion is this: so-called "legacy" systems -- those mainframe and midrange-class systems that are anchored in the infrastructure, closely roped into networks, storage and mission-critical ERP and financial functions -- aren't going away anytime soon.
As a result, there's a very solid case to be made for private clouds to advance these investments to the next level, as well as public cloud services to enhance and create new opportunities. The question is what types of situations or environments do public or private clouds fit best. (Or any "cloud" at all, actually -- but we'll stick to the public versus private cloud question here.)
Mark Thiele, executive VP of Data Center Tech at Switch, provides a nice outline of the business case for whether public or private clouds work for the enterprise over at GigaOm:
Where public cloud services are suitable:
- Where there is "limited exposure to heavy infrastructure investments such as mainframes and enterprise applications."
- Where IT staff is more likely to have been brought up in the days of rapid development, virtualization automation, services on demand, or open source.
- In a smaller business, where there is greater flexibility and agility in decision making.
- Where there is a need for rapid turnaround and faster time to marker for new application.
- Where IT staff is less likely to feel "emotional" attachment to a SAN or working on servers -- and therefore "less likely to feel threatened by an external provider."
Where private cloud services should be created:
- In companies with a "decade plus of investment in IT staff, infrastructure and enterprise applications."
- In industries where "regulatory and financial controls are stricter, more comprehensive and carry greater risk when failure occurs."
- In risk-averse companies where "business change takes much longer."
- In organizations with "dedicated staffing for very specific roles, which makes it harder to unify quickly around a major change to infrastructure or applications."
- Where a larger infrastructure base allows for "deeper staff knowledge and improved economies of scale.'
Of course, many enterprises are also opting for the hybrid route, in which private and public clouds are blended, or organizations rely on more dedicated or customized resources from an outside provider. It's likely enterprises will, as the needs fit, be securing technology resources and services from both outside providers as well as their own IT departments. And, at some level, also be cloud service providers themselves -- but that's another story.
(Photo: Joe McKendrick.)