Why your enterprise private cloud is failing

Why your enterprise private cloud is failing

Summary: There is a new administrator rising from within the business units who doesn't see private clouds as a linear progression from server virtualization, but instead as an extension of the public cloud.


You've told your ITOps team to make it happen, you've approved the purchase of cloud-in-a-box solutions, but your developers aren't using it. Why?

Forrester analyst Lauren Nelson and I get this question often in our inquiries with enterprise customers. We've found the answer and published a new report specifically on this topic. It's core finding: Your approach is wrong.

Your asking the wrong people to build the solution. You aren't giving them clear enough direction on what they should build. You aren't helping them understand how this new service should operate, or how it will affect their career and value to the organization. And more often than not, you are building the private cloud without engaging the buyers who will consume this cloud.

And your approach is perfectly logical. For many of us in IT, we see a private cloud as an extension of our investments in virtualization. It's simply virtualization with some standardization, automation, a portal, and an image library, isn't it? Yep. And a Porsche is just a Volkswagen with a better engine, tires, suspension, and seats. That's the fallacy in this thinking.

To get private cloud right you have to step away from the guts of the solution and start with the value proposition. From the point of view of the consumers of this service — your internal developers and business users.

To them, a private cloud is a service, not an infrastructure stack. They value the speed in which resources can be allocated to them, the simplicity of getting their work done, and the lack of friction involved. To get private cloud right, you have to start here, and that requires a completely different set of skills — skills your virtualization administrator, frankly, doesn't possess. And honestly, your virtualization administrator probably doesn't see how he benefits from a private cloud. In fact, he's probably threatened by it.

Cloud developers look at the private cloud through the lens of the public cloud and the benefits it provides: self-service, a low entry price, strictly limited sets of predefined resource configurations and services, and speed — where fast is defined as fifteen minutes or less. Cloud developers want these same characteristics in a private cloud, and won't tolerate compromises in autonomy and agility. And the end customer of the private cloud doesn't care at all about the VM container their app will eventually run on or the underlying infrastructure — these elements have all but disappeared for them.

Bottom line:Your private cloud is very different than your static virtualization environment.

In looking at the organizations who are having success with their private clouds, their approach is completely different. And usually, starts with a different person in charge — a developer or architect who approaches the cloud, not from the infrastructure up, but as a service. And they start their service definition with the public equivalent. The approach: How can I deliver the same value and experience of the public cloud from within our own datacenter? Those who have had the most success with this approach have also started with a complete Infrastructure as a Service or Platform as a Service solution, rather than trying to build one up from a virtualization foundation.

So if your team is struggling to deliver a private cloud and you have taken the bottoms-up approach, stop. This is the difficult, culturally challenging and slow approach to cloud value. Instead, put a new cloud admin in charge. Someone who understands and has direct experience with the public clouds, has a service orientation (not an infrastructure orientation), and is willing to start fresh with solutions that meet your developers needs out of the box.

Topic: Cloud

James Staten

About James Staten

James Staten is a Vice President and Principal Analyst at Forrester Research, serving Infrastructure and Operations professionals.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Your private cloud isn't working

    Because 99% of Businesses will never see a return on private cloud infrastructure using COTS. The fact is private cloud is not needed by the majority of businesses with exsiting VM infrastructure and public cloud is even less useful/cost effective. Cloud for the sake of cloud is not a selling point.
    • Agreed

      What I take away from this article is: Don't use internal IT staff, hire Forrester instead.
    • Agreed

      It looks like an ads disguised as a research report.....
      • Absolutely Valid

        Interesting comments above. It is unfortunate that there is so much misunderstanding about Cloud Computing. That it is not about the technology at all, it is about a capability and a commercial value of lower cost, greater agility and competitive differentiation due to these.

        Virtualisation is a mechanism to provide this, but a PaaS platform of physical servers from a consumers perspective could also be just as easily considered Cloud. The article is absolutely right, if you don't deliver from a service perspective and consumer perspective then you can build it and they won't come. I have seen these initiatives start many times with best intention and due to the fact they get built as an extension to a virtualisation infrastructure platform; they fail. I think it is this change in mindset that captures the imagination of the consumer, but leave the Enterprise IT internal community scratching because they don't always get it.