Private cloud computing benefits occur on a case-by-case basis

When public cloud won't work, private cloud will, right? Wrong. Private cloud computing won't solve everything. Success really depends on the service.

When the trappings of public cloud computing -- security concerns, lack of control, long-term costs -- hinder adoption, many IT teams turn their attention, dollars and deployment efforts to private cloud. Still, not everyone is convinced that private cloud computing is the answer.

Indeed, some people at IT organizations who have embarked on a traditional private cloud project are concerned that private cloud didn't fix the problems it was supposed to solve, said Pat O'Day, CTO at BlueLock, a cloud provider based on VMware's vCloud offering.

"[Many] implemented the private cloud, but it didn't really turn them into a service organization," O'Day said.

Nor does private cloud get you out of the infrastructure management game.

"Private cloud is hard and expensive, and at the end of the day, you still own the infrastructure and have to manage and integrate it. Yikes!" said Ellen Rubin, vice president of cloud products at Terremark, a Verizon company that offers managed hosting and cloud services.

To that end, hosting companies such as Terremark promote cloud to customers as a seamless extension of their existing hosted environments. Stefanini, an IT services firm based in Brazil, recently extended private infrastructure located in Terremark's Sao Paulo data center with Terremark's Enterprise Cloud to take advantage of cloud computing benefits, such as reduced costs and overhead.

Private cloud is hard and expensive, and at the end of the day, you still own the infrastructure and have to manage and integrate it. Yikes!

Ellen Rubin, vice president of cloud products at Terremark

Ailtom Nascimento, vice president of global accounts at Stefanini, said that running its intelligent voice routing (IVR) application on Enterprise Cloud can save the company 40% over running it on dedicated infrastructure. Stefanini also runs its internal enterprise resource planning application from the cloud. "Everybody uses it and nobody knows any different," he said.

Plus, for every workload that runs in Terremark's cloud, there's one less piece of infrastructure Stefanini needs to update and maintain, and the workload can be ramped up much faster, Nascimento said.

Like many companies, Stefanini got a taste of cloud computing running Salesforce.com.

"After we used that, we realized it was safe and that we could start looking at alternatives," Nascimento said. The CIO approved, and the organization now explores whether to run a workload in the cloud on a case-by-case basis. For example, while the IVR app makes a lot of sense, hosting a credit card processing application in the cloud might not, Nascimento said.

"It really depends on the kind of service," he said.

All eyes on Amazon Web Services cloud

One alternative that realistic IT admins should be prepared for is Amazon Web Services (AWS) because that public cloud platform has captured developers' imaginations.

AWS developers have gotten spoiled by the community and the constant stream of new services available from the public cloud service, said one AWS user, a developer at a brand-name software company who asked not to be identified.

"Amazon is always giving us something new -- some stuff we know that's coming and some stuff that's a surprise," he said. "It's like Christmas -- you're like, 'What's next?'"

Popular add-on services for AWS include managed Domain Name System and object BLOB storage, to name a few, and mark the provider's evolution from a simple Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) to a higher-level Platform as a Service (PaaS) provider.

Meanwhile, internal IT "can barely keep up with current demand," said the AWS developer. "I have no hope of that additional functionality from them."

Nor are other public cloud players on his roadmap. "AWS is it for me, for now," he said. To his mind, competitors such as Rackspace don't offer enough PaaS options, and the developer still perceives Microsoft's Azure as focused on Windows and the .Net development environment.

With that as the backdrop, IT folks need to acknowledge the public cloud-based applications running in their environment rather than trying to stop them, said BlueLock's O'Day. "They need to ask, 'Where do we go from here?'"

Building a private cloud can still offer valuable benefits. "Self-service is a useful feature," said O'Day. Even so, he said, the real emphasis should be on enabling developers and business units to intelligently take advantage of cloud-based resources, wherever they may be.

"IT should be shifting from a gatekeeper role to an advanced services role," said James Urquhart, vice president of product strategy at enStratus Networks, a cloud management software provider in Minneapolis. "This means not striving to 'own' the company cloud -- as is the case of most private clouds -- but rather to make it easier to consume whatever cloud services best meet business needs."

"The more control you can give to developers without sacrificing control of operations, the better," he added.

Alex Barrett is senior executive editor for TechTarget's Data Center and Virtualization media group, with editorial oversight of SearchDataCenter.com, SearchServerVirtualization.com and SearchVMware.com.

This was first published in November 2012

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