Clouds Are Enterprise-class IT. Next Question.
Recently, a number of provocative articles have turned up, questioning the enterprise utility of private clouds (Why You Really, Truly Don’t Want a Private Cloud, Zap Think) and public clouds (Why the Public Cloud is a Big Fat Enterprise #Fail, CA blog). While it is not possible to review the arguments and counter-arguments in this brief space, suffice it to say that both arguments have merits, but turn on matters of definition rather than upon issues of usage. Private Clouds, it is said, do not provide the elasticity available in the public cloud and also require a large investment in infrastructure, so they are not really useful for meeting enterprise goals of cost savings and availability. Public clouds are said to lack management capabilities, security, and other controls, and so are not adequate for the enterprise, are often blacklisted, and will not figure in the future of enterprise IT.
The problem with both of these arguments is that they are demonstrably false. Private clouds are indeed being used successfully, in a variety of formats which resolve the scaling issue and, therefore, the infrastructure cost issue. Public clouds are indeed being used by the enterprise for a variety of purposes, and our research demonstrates an increasing interest in this technology, particularly within the large enterprise. So, why do we continue to see suchissues raised other than to spark discussion?
The first is the time-worn tactic of sowing fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD). For companies heavily involved in traditional pre-cloud infrastructure management solutions, this makes sense. Ultimately, it won’t work. But it makes sense. The second issue is that the ring fences drawn around Private, Public and Hybrid models are often a bit too tight, leading to errors of definition. When definitions attempt to get too specific, they start excluding important technologies and emerging developments.
For Cloud IT, the most disruptive concept is the Virtual Private Cloud (VPC), which is offered as a service by Amazon, and through Google’s Secure Data Connector for Google Apps. As with a Virtual Private Network (VPN), this segregates the network – hence the Cloud – through an encryption layer, so that it operates much like a private network. A VPC appears to the user as a Private Cloud, although it may exist within a Public Cloud. It exists within a multi-tenant environment, but the data itself can be encrypted, if necessary, through solutions such as Vormetric Cloud Encryption for AWS to eliminate most of the risks of shared data under multi-tenancy. As a Private Cloud located within a Public Cloud, a VPC also shares characteristics of a Hybrid Cloud, in maintaining secure and separated data while maintaining the elasticity of Public Cloud, and ability to integrate with Public Cloud services. Access to management tools, another issue often cited as a differentiator between cloud types is developing rapidly across all areas through solutions offered by companies such as RightScale.
Simple definitions of Public, Private, and Hybrid Clouds are sufficient for most purposes, and convey basic meaning. However, if we need to discuss the specifics of infrastructure and governance it is better to address the specifics than to redefine these top level concepts to meet the needs of a specific argument.