Every private cloud has a public face

Every private cloud has a public face

Summary: Every enterprise today is a cloud provider. Unfortunately, most of them don't realize and they're making a hash of it.

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Over the past few years, while people (myself included) have been bickering about the relative merits of public versus private cloud, something very important has been going on without anyone really taking much notice. The Web — which is the cloud in its widest sense — has crept up unseen and wrapped its silky tendrils around us — enterprises and individuals alike — to the point where now we are all immersed in a globally connected, universal compute network whether we like it or not. As a result, the ground on which this public versus private debate takes place has shifted, and in many ways the terminology is no longer helpful.

My disagreement with private cloud was always around a certain type of private cloud — what might be better termed denial cloud. My suspicion was that enterprises attempting to implement cloud technologies on their own terms wanted to avoid dealing with the wider connectivity of the Web. Pursuing that kind of private cloud is a dead-end strategy. On the other hand, I don't have any argument with private clouds that take the Internet full-on. Even Amazon, Facebook, Salesforce.com and most other large-scale public cloud providers operate their own private infrastructure on the back-end. I'm all in favor of that form of fully connected private cloud — one that delivers multi-tenant services to the outside world (and at the same time often consumes external services too).

Nowadays there's nowhere for anyone to hide, even those enterprises that still shy away from public connectivity. We have moved into the next phase of the cloud era, when every organisation is a cloud provider — even though few of them actually recognise what's happened. Any enterprise is providing cloud services if it serves mobile clients, remote workers, self-service by customers, employees or partners, e-commerce, inbound marketing and a whole host of other necessary online interactions in business today. And yet because they don't realize what they've gotten into, most of them are making a hash of it. Paradoxically, when they do fail — as providers like Sony and RIM each did this year in spectacular fashion — it's the cloud that gets blamed, even though the failures are down to poor execution rather than anything inherently wrong with the cloud itself. Yes, these companies are cloud providers, but they failed because they did it so crushingly badly.

That's why my new message to enterprises everywhere is this: if you're going to do private cloud, then do it properly for goodness' sake. Every private cloud has a public face and if you believe differently then you're in denial.

Topics: Security, Browser, Cloud, Enterprise Software, Mobility

Phil Wainewright

About Phil Wainewright

Since 1998, Phil Wainewright has been a thought leader in cloud computing as a blogger, analyst and consultant.

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10 comments
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  • RE: Every private cloud has a public face

    "My suspicion was that enterprises attempting to implement cloud technologies on their own terms wanted to avoid dealing with the wider connectivity of the Web. Pursuing that kind of private cloud is a dead-end strategy."

    Opinion.

    "even though the failures are down to poor execution rather than anything inherently wrong with the cloud itself."

    The cloud is inherently fragile. It's hard to secure. It's hard to stay connected. It's hard to manage. It was not built to be used the way it is today.

    Everything has benefits and drawbacks. Pretending the cloud is perfect only tells me you are in denial.
    CobraA1
    • RE: Every private cloud has a public face

      @CobraA1 Amen! Thankfully the past 6 months seems to show signs that people are catching up with the reality that with the so called benefits of the cloud come at a serious potential cost (like entire companies being down for days during a cloud outage because they put all critical data and services into that inherently fragile and insecure thing.
      ColdFusion_z
    • RE: Every private cloud has a public face

      @CobraA1 I presented the inherent risks of the cloud at my place of work to the corporate decision makers. They listened politely and proceeded to force the cloud into all the remote sites. Shortly after implementation, constructiion crews outside the site cut through the fiber and backup lines connecting us to the WAN. The site was down for 3 days. A few months later a fire took out the lines again taking the site down for a week. Poetic justice and the right to say "I told you so" without actually saying anything.
      doug@...
      • RE: the right to say "I told you so"...

        @doug@...

        Is a dish best served in the face of the ID10Ts who make those stupid decisions. At WROK PALCE, there was this MBA applying for an executive position; and one of his responsibilities at a previous employer, was overseeing the race to the cloud. In his zeal to fly to the top of the [i]Ivory Tower[/i], this member of [b]executive damagement[/b] made some really boneheaded decisions WRT the cloud migration.

        Needless to say, the cloud burst, it s--- all over them; and he was [i]promoted to a position with another company[/i]. We (that being IT) made some inquiries off the record, and got the real truth. So, our CIO, armed with that insight, blasted him right out of the conference room during his interview. He can go an fsck up some [b]other[/b] company.
        fatman65536
  • RE: Every private cloud has a public face

    Sounds like one man's opinion rather than any thing factual.
    NoAxToGrind
    • RE: Every private cloud has a public face

      @NoAxToGrind Yep...apparently we have all swallowed the cloud pill?? *ahem* A tad bit of a blanket statement...as I know I refuse to use anything "cloud"....and pretty sure I'm not alone
      ColdFusion_z
      • RE: Every private cloud has a public face

        @ColdFusion_z "I refuse to use anything "cloud"...."

        So what are you doing on the Internet then? Seems like the talkback commenters on the piece are all in denial about the pervasiveness of the cloud and the need to connect to it. Even with all its supposed fragility and challenges, the cloud is here to stay and it has to be dealt with rather than pretending it's not important.
        philwainewright
      • RE: Every private cloud has a public face

        @ColdFusion_z You are not alone. The Internet itself has always been the cloud in every diagram I've seen since the 90's. Talking about apps running in a data center as the "cloud" seems like a change in terminology and a lot of poetic license. I suppose they needed a fancier name than hosted apps as if that would solve the inherent problems.
        hansentech
  • RE: Every private cloud has a public face

    @mike. Totally agree
    sw123
  • RE: Every private cloud has a public face

    The "Cloud" burst upon us a few years ago. My first thought was to wonder who is responsible for "the cloud". I still don't know. If your data in "the cloud" is corrupted or lost, who do you call to fix it. Who do you sue for damages? I don't know that either.

    I'll keep my data on my disk and copy it to a backup device every once in a while. It
    may lack the "pizazz" of the "cloud" but I'll feel better.
    draco vulgaris