Moving to the cloud is supposed to be a seamless process that provides elasticity and saves money. But many enterprises have found that private cloud deployment leads to more headaches for IT.
A true private cloud must have self-service access, tracking and monitoring of resources, and full automation. An enterprise is drawn to a private cloud because it's designed to provide better security and more control than a public cloud. But is that always the case?
The complexity of a private cloud and maintenance costs are actually alarming to IT admins.
"Private cloud projects fail due to a lack of architectural understanding of the technology," said David Linthicum, vice president of Cloud Technology Partners in Boston. "Thus, the implementations become much more difficult than expected."
Enterprises should focus on using the cloud solely to deliver the value and the benefits they need, regardless of whether it fulfills the true definition of the private cloud. The goal is to improve business agility, not adhere to an industry definition.
Public versus private cloud doesn't mean the former will save enterprises money and the latter provides better security. The challenges vary for each enterprise -- depending on which cloud it migrates to.
Pinpoint the causes of private cloud failure
More often than not, a private cloud fails because enterprise IT did not do its due diligence and ask themselves the proper questions about their environment.
A private cloud can fail in a number of ways. Many private clouds are overloaded and optimized for every workload. And this puts too much stress on the cloud and hinders performance. If staff members are not trained properly, then the private cloud will not be properly managed. Also, IT often has a tendency to not involve the business side in the migration process, so expectations are not in sync.
An enterprise can also underestimate the need for redundancy, and assume the setup from their data center will work in a private cloud.
No matter how a private cloud migration goes awry, enterprises are forced to spend more money to fix the problems or revert back to a virtualized environment.
Step one to an unsuccessful private cloud migration is a lack of understanding in an enterprise. And IT is left to play catch-up from there.
"To really understand what a private cloud is -- you have to make sure that you've added a layer of management," said Judith Hurwitz, president and CEO at Hurwitz and Associates, a research firm based in Needham, Mass. "It's really the automation services that are most important there."
Public vs. private cloud debate continues
"When you do a private cloud, you have to learn lessons from how public cloud providers establish their environment," Hurwitz said.
Most enterprises adopt the private cloud because they believe it is more secure than a public cloud.
With a private cloud, the enterprise owns the physical servers and can limit accessibility. In a public cloud, the provider is in control, so trust is an issue. Data stays behind a firewall in a private cloud, and an enterprise will always know where it is -- and perhaps more important -- who has access to it.
But public cloud providers, such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, have significantly improved security and compliance. And even highly regulated industries are beginning to feel more secure in a public cloud.
Depending on an enterprise’s security requirements, it’s possible that a public cloud might be more compliant than an on-premises data center.
"Public clouds are getting more and more secure," said Dave Bartoletti, an analyst with Forrester Research in Cambridge, Mass. "Every year, public clouds gain greater footprint and pass increasingly stringent security tests."
Read part two of this story on the perks of private vs. public cloud