Saturday, 18 April 2009

The move to private clouds

I was able to catch up and listen to the EMC roundtable discussion which was on Private cloud computing emergence within customer datacentres, and how EMC/Cisco and Vmware are enabling this between each other (think the death star strategy...only joking). Apart from the webcast being largely a promotional activity on what each individual companies vision was for private cloud and underlying infrastructure, they raised topic in discussion on how service providers will figure within the new private cloud world, discussion was pretty interesting and it brought a few ideas up in my head, So here is my ramblings which you may or may not agree with.

Definition of what a private cloud actually is are still a bit shoddy and mines no better but i'll give it a go, one example of Private cloud strategy is VMware's who have revealed there take on Private cloud, its on the basis of a completely onpremise internally purchased virtualised datacenter (VDC-OS) that has potential global flexible turn key delivery capability within your organisation and gives you the option to externally goto other external cloud hosting providers (Linked Vcenter mode), workloads within the private cloud can dynamically migrate internally (DRS) or move according to certain factors such as following the sun for internal support coverage models or cheaper utility that would be offered in certain locations (cloud vmotion it will come watch this space), so for example you could migrate a datacentre to make use of free cooling facility and use this capability to cool your datacenter at certain times of year for low costs. Private clouds although predominantly used for internally based IT departments allows flexibility dependant on network connectivity to go and use external cloud providers in the same way you would colocate rackspace today in a scenario where you may need additional overflow capacity or hosted DR.

Private clouds can also be used by organisations that outsource services and datacentres, except that the private cloud is spread across multiple service providers to gain business benefit and best value. When comparing at how you build and enter service agreements in today's Outsourcing and Managed Service/Hosting world in a nutshell you build a list of requirements, agree if it can be delivered within cost and budget over a period of years, define roles and responsibility within that binded contract
and sign a contract (then argue about SLA's when it doesn't work).

One question on how Private clouds compare is that when comparing more bleeding edge public cloud service offerings which bill in a "pay as you go" usage model within organisations like Amazon, Terremark and 3tera, will any future new "Cloud" service offerings from the likes of the big monolithic service providers such as IBM, EDS, CSC completely shift to providing a utility based model? This will mean they have to remodel how they define service catalogues and commercial billing frameworks, staffing structure etc etc. Will dramatic business model change be too much and will the model of hosting/mgd services continue in similar fashion as it does today with cloud really just being a fancy name in the portfolio offering which is really still the old age hosting and Managed service but with smoke and mirrors (and a lot of ball ache)?

Its probably a certainty that service provider's will refresh how they offer services across their current technological and the commercial portfolio and cater for basic "cloud" based services, it might not be the real deal but it will fool most people, plus I doubt they will have much option, with customers having a 100% Virtualised Datacenter will mean you can take your toys and play somewhere else a helluva lot easier than when you have hundreds of bits of tin to migrate that they previous impregnated themselves into, the 100% Virtualised estate will make the transition massively cheaper for the customer. All of these factors and upper hands the customer has will be most certainly a bandwagon they will jump on as they have had to do with early standard server virtualisation strategy organisations have followed so it maybe something they leech onto..who knows.

The other considerations with Private cloud is that if your outsourced today you have most likely signed a multiyear deal which has large amounts of contractual and commercial commitment for a number of years, moving across to a separate cloud provider will not be easy and will need to include heavy negotiations or financial write off to reap benefits of the efficiency you may obtain when using multiple cloud hosts.

To reap externally hosted private cloud benefits will for a number of years be dependant upon what your internal IT model is on both financially, operationally and technological fronts. If your IT is currently outsourced and host services within an off premise solution using multiple private cloud service will be easy to introduce to the department but difficult to move into due to embedded contract with current incumbents who may or may not offer what you want.

If your an internally hosted IT department the Private cloud will mean you can obtain freedom and flexibility to outsource pockets of your environment if ever required without the contractual mumbo jumbo that is present in todays outsource/colocation world, so for example an ERP system could be quite easily hosted within a cloud provider yet federate with your internal world as you would do when hosting that system internally.


Personally I cannot see the large outsourcers changing internal models in a hurry to cater for cloud for a long long time, the largest providers are all large oil tankers that need to be shifted, I suspect they have various business models internally that are designed with profit and margin in mind. If they have to alter this into a utility model like current Public Cloud offererings I'm not so sure they are ready to stomach this or whether they fully are confident cloud is even the way to go yet.

The good news I feel is likely to be for internally hosted organisations that are agile and have freedom to roam, your likely to be the sensible one who has not got yourself involved in shackled contracts that do not offer flexibility to roam and gain benefit of multiple different private clouds.


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