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Forrester Backs Private Clouds — Will Others Follow Suit?

Forrester analyst James Staten recently authored a pair of reports on cloud computing that do something increasingly rare in the world of cloud analysis: give useful advice. Rather than talk about cloud computing as an all-or-nothing proposition where the only options are the status quo or Amazon EC2, Staten actually recommends deploying an internal cloud, leveraging public clouds either as part of a virtual private (hybrid) cloud strategy or for cloud bursting. If cloud computing is ever going to take off at the enterprise level (Forrester shows enterprise adoption at only 4 percent), large companies need to know they can get almost the full cloud experience without throwing away the millions they already have invested in their data centers. In fact, they can squeeze even more out of those investments.

The IT world was given a taste of this concept last week when VMware (s vmw) cloud computing operating system garnered a large amount of coverage, but VMware is not alone in its quest to bring public cloud-like capabilities to data centers. A non-exhaustive sampling of vendors providing building-block software for private clouds includes IBM (s ibm), HP (s hpq), CA (s ca), Appistry, GigaSpaces, Cassatt, Egenera, DataSynapse, Platform Computing, 3Tera and Citrix Systmes (s ctxs). These solutions enable everything from dynamic resource allocation to automated power management to migrating applications and workloads across cloud environments. With these capabilities at their disposal, organizations can create service-oriented shared infrastructures, ensure on-demand access to resources, drastically increase server utilization and even save lots of money thanks to the efficiencies enabled.

The problem is that (with the exception of VMware), these companies and their solutions often get overlooked, as in the recent McKinsey study calling Amazon EC2 cost-inefficient while dismissing private clouds as “not by definition true clouds.” Perhaps it is because the prospect of computing literally in the cloud is more captivating, but the result is that many analysts and pundits seem to have blinders on, looking only to the where of computing while ignoring the how. Smart enterprises undoubtedly will perform due diligence while searching for ways to maximize their IT budget dollars, but they need the full range of information (coming from someone other than vendors) in order to make truly informed choices. Hopefully companies that read Staten’s reports are enlightened, and hopefully those reports serve as a signal that it’s alright to talk about all the possibilities that fall within cloud computing’s broad scope.

7 Responses to “Forrester Backs Private Clouds — Will Others Follow Suit?”

  1. Derrick, Forrester’s guidance is sound. We’ve actually been down a similar path before. In the realm of managed and hosted services. We use the term “selective out-tasking” to define the potential implementation scenario — so people don’t get distracted by concerns regarding the all-or-nothing debate.

    Besides, broadband service providers that have proven experience in managed service delivery can likely extend that model into the emerging space of cloud services — since many of the same skills apply to the new requirement.

    However, just as we’ve evolved to describing managed services from the perspective of someone seeking information and guidance relative to business impact, we now need to cross that chasm with cloud services. Capital and operational efficiencies are part of the storyline, but that’s likely not enough to sway people who are still on the fence.

    FYI, we’re preparing to seed that essential dialog on the Business Technology Roundtable, more details here

  2. Satish Mummadi

    Sounds similar to Grid computing initiative, build an internal grid of computers and then expose services or consume services from other global grids.

    is this a right analogy?

    • Similar in concept . . . deploy arrays of basic servers and move workloads to them . . . but very different in implementation. Grid computing never took off for general purpose computing because it required writing custom software. Many cloud computing platforms, like 3tera’s AppLogic, can run standard software without any modifications so getting started is much quicker and requires a much smaller commitment of people and capital.