Attention private cloud haters; it’s a hybrid approach

by Paul Muller, VP of Strategic Marketingpaul-muller150.jpg

 

Have you noticed the private cloud bashing lately?

 

Instead of “either/or,” I believe it’s a question of knowing where and when to use the right mix of public AND private cloud technologies to deliver the services your enterprise needs. And instead of getting wrapped up around what type of cloud, we should focus on the real transformation – delivering flexible, secure, shared services – not technology for technology’s sake.

 

For example, ZDNet’s Phil Wainewright rightfully questions the role and impact of private cloud. However, type-casting private cloud’s “dreadful fragility and brittleness” shortchanges the transformational role private cloud can play in addition to its ability to drive real-time–to-market and efficiency benefits.

 

Here’s a secret – your users don’t care…

One of the best places to get started with the mind shift to hybrid delivery is with services that are readily “consumerized” like smart phones and email. Here at HP access to email services is managed through a self-service portal and automated policy enforcement. It offers a glimpse into how IT and end-users interact in a hybrid delivery model. No matter what device, wherever I am, I get my messages. Is my HP email powered by a private or public cloud? I don’t know. Besides getting a monthly bill, all I care about is is that it works. I love it.

 

Fixed vs. variable costs – FIGHT!

So if private clouds work so well for some, why the heated debate? The technology’s essentially the same. The end-user’s experience is identical. So what’s the real difference? My take is that it’s a question of true variable vs. fixed costs.

 

At their core, the two flavors of cloud differ in that most private cloud implementations are provided with a high proportion of fixed costs.  In the above example my mailbox is a variable cost for my business unit. (My business unit is only charged for each user.) But for IT and therefore our balance sheet, it’s ultimately a fixed cost. That is, IT and HP overall bears the real costs of licenses, hardware and data center space whether or not anyone uses the service.

 

According to industry estimates, 30-40 percent of a typical IT shop’s expenses are variable. If you’re a start-up or subject to large swings in IT utilization (say you’re running an online movie rental company that’s essentially idle outside of your peak load between 7PM and 11PM), then that’s way too low. The figure should be at least 60 percent.  In fact, the higher percentage of your costs that are variable, the more control you have over peaks and troughs in demand.

 

For me, that’s the real difference between private and public cloud. A private cloud represents predictable fixed costs. A public cloud represents variable costs. In the case of public cloud, when the service isn’t in use, the only person stuck with over-provisioned infrastructure is the service provider – and that’s a great topic for a different post.

 

So private cloud makes sense for frequently used services, or services where the peaks of consumption of one service coincide with the troughs of another to create a predictable “base load” of demand. Development/test workloads are one of the best candidates for this type of service and one of the reasons we developed our Private Cloud for Test software solution.

 

What about less-common services? The challenge from an IT perspective is when the users stop using the service. That’s where variable costs become important and where the public cloud makes the most sense.

 

Virtual insanity

 Cloud computing forces you to make one of the biggest mental transitions since we moved from mainframe to client-server and client-server to the Web. It forces the shift from thinking about infrastructure and applications to thinking about processes and services.

 

These processes and services provide the foundation for a highly transparent cost structures, letting you run what you want where it makes the most sense economically. But true workload portability requires you to transform the way you build applications and the way your structure your operations to support them. It’s here that I think private cloud provides a great stepping-stone.

 

Private cloud, represent!

Closing out, while I think that private cloud is wrongly cast as a poor-man’s cloud by the haters, there is one area where I agree the difference is material - the economics: maximizing utilization and value-added is more involved than simply virtualizing servers. We as an industry still have a long way to go in reshaping infrastructure and software licensing to enable variable cost structures. (Before you ask why we’re not there yet, I know from experience, it’s far more complicated than you can imagine!)

 

So, while you can’t yet wave a magic wand and move to a completely variable cost model for private services, you can use private cloud to enable time to market, efficiency and compliance improvements while preparing your people and your applications for the brave new world of hybrid delivery.

 

What’s more important to you – getting your people and processes ready with private cloud or having the truly variable cost structures of public?

 

Comments
seo article service(anon) | ‎02-20-2012 09:15 PM

Nice post!! very useful information about private cloulds..

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