Archive for August, 2009

Private Clouds are an Oxymoron

August 26, 2009

I have been to several cloud conferences over the last few months, and I hear a lot about private clouds.  The general idea seems to follow this basic logic:

  1. Cloud computing offers a lot of promise in efficiency, scalability, and flexibility.
  2. As an enterprise-sized business, we are very risk averse, and public cloud offerings scare us, so. . .
  3. Let’s do the same thing, but make it private!

The trouble with this is that almost all of the flexibility, scalability, and efficiency in cloud offerings come from sharing the load with other customers.  For example, any business has to build for peak capacity, but can only easily monetize the average utilization.  But a public cloud vendor can share the cost of the excess capacity across all the customers, lower the cost of that inefficiency for everyone.  But a private cloud must, by definition build (and pay for) peak capacity, and bear the cost of that inefficiency alone.

I suppose that the tools and technologies that enable cloud computing can be applied to private data centers to improve operational efficiency, and make the IT staff more responsive to business unit requests, but it seems too much to call this a private cloud.

In fact, this is the exact opposite of how Amazon Web Services came into being.  The story is that they built standardized platforms to support their internal requirements, then realized that others could benefit from these standardized capabilities.  I am all for making your internal operations be more flexible, but using these technologies internally and calling it a private cloud is like drinking alone and calling it a private party.