For today's public transport reading I wanted to focus on the trends of private cloud. If you asked me two years ago to invest in a private cloud startup I wouldn't have believed it. I thought the future of private cloud vendors would be one of those things people talked about in the good old days.
Everyone would be well on their way to public cloud with strategies to do this all locked in and in execution mode. Looking at it now I am obviously completely wrong. In fact, there are more private cloud providers in the market then there were two years ago! So I asked myself, why is that? Let me give you my thoughts as to why.
The digital transformation shift
Like the word cloud when it first got termed, digital transformation can cover a lot of different topics. At a 30,000 foot view, it's a business' need to deliver a vast amount of services to its customers faster all in a way that is charged monthly. This statement led me down a path where we created systems that allowed us to consume infrastructure as a utility. That thought then caused quite a few companies to jump into the pool of full public cloud before checking if the pool was empty, and a quick realisation that a full public cloud model can be expensive if the business doesn't have the right processes or workloads to put in there.
I will still argue that every workload can exist in a public cloud, but the cost to move, transfer, and re-platform might be more than a business is willing to do all at once. This left those businesses with one of two problems. Paying very large public cloud bills for workloads that don't belong there yet, or moving them back to where they came from, which isn't a good idea either. This brought on the second phase, which is what I call private cloud 2.0.
Private cloud 2.0
Private cloud providers worked out that if they were going to survive the onslaught of companies reducing their hardware sales in place of utility computing, they would have to change the game. Rather than going head to head with public cloud, they worked out a way to complement it. The first thing that changed was the way in which you purchased and ordered private clouds.
I remember trying to put together a private cloud solution a few years back and it was six months of design workshops and gathering business requirements, ending in a 300-line Excel sheet sent off to the manufacturer to produce a reworded copy with a price down the bottom that looked more like a phone number than a bill. This then got approved after many business meetings and budget planning sessions. After another two months of building off-site and then shipping it over "fully integrated", we had a working private cloud. Today you can order a full private cloud configured, racked, and stacked in around half the time with a lot less stress.
After fixing the agility issue, pricing was next. Most providers of public cloud now allow you to order on an operational budget with flexibility in the length of term. The third and final hurdle was the innovation around the software stack that controlled these private clouds. This was totally overhauled to offer the capability to deploy workloads easily via simple tools or APIs. These APIs allow you to expand the infrastructure seamlessly (allowing utility type features) and even seamless integration with public clouds to allow extra burst capacity or backup/disaster recovery solutions.
All of these things have meant that private cloud is here to stay. Proof of this was RightScale's State of Cloud report in 2017, showing private cloud has outgrown public cloud on average in the last two years. Picking a winner at the end of the day is only what is right for you and your business. I like to think of my job as a therapist of technology and innovation, where I listen to my customers around their challenges and replay to them a set of solutions and ideas to meet their business needs.
Lastly, for those who want to take the private cloud conversation to the next level, check out our expert series videos with Hilda Clune, business transformation leader and CIO at PwC, talking about her own datacentre modernisation and business transformation with Telstra.
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