There’s a lot of noise in the industry today about whether or not infrastructure appliances, engineered systems, datacenter-in-a-box, and other similar solutions can be labeled “cloud.”
The basis for this debate is rooted in assertions that the public cloud model, or more aptly Amazon’s, is the only cloud model. There’s no doubt that Amazon is the poster child for the cloud industry, and was around when the cloud buzz was making inroads; and therefore subsequent “definitions” of cloud have become inspired by Amazon’s delivery model. Moreover, the idealistic pursuit of converting IT into a pure utility, as well as addressing overarching pain points of enterprise IT, are also driving some of the arguments. But does doing so restrict the benefits an enterprise can derive from cloud principles?
Private cloud providers make their business case based on security, lower total cost of ownership (TCO), manageability, tight integration, and some other “public cloud-like” benefits. But while they do not always possess the scalability, payment options, and other aspects of public cloud services, is it fair to limit the cloud ecosystem to a particular definition, and term other solutions “cloud washing”? Similarly, various SaaS providers that believe they are the “true cloud application providers” have defined the criteria for a “true SaaS application”, in turn expecting other cloud applications to satisfy their self-anointed criteria to become a SaaS provider. Does this add value to cloud discussions?
Unfortunately, the public cloud provider-driven “definition debates” – that revolve around the pay-per-use aspect of public cloud vis-à-vis a minimum capacity commitment required in a private cloud, the virtually infinite capacity of infrastructure public cloud vis-à-vis requirements to buy “infrastructure boxes” that impact the scalability and flexibility in a private cloud, the minimum capex in public infrastructure cloud vis-à-vis expensive hardware procurement in a private cloud, etc., are doing more harm than good. In retaliation, private cloud providers have also started poking holes into public cloud providers’ security, financial stability, commitment, quality of service delivery, and other seemingly relevant aspects. These assertions are also futile.
The fact is, the name or definition assigned to a given cloud-type solution is moot. The real issue is whether the customer sees value in and gains benefit from a cloud offering. Does it improve IT management? Does it save money? Does it improve IT delivery? Does it help the business become more agile?
Failing to take this client-centric view and instead utilizing the prescriptive, self-created definitions of cloud services can significantly inhibit cloud uptake and the potential benefits from its usage. Just because a cloud solution does not satisfy an “industry definition” should not prevent an enterprise buyer from evaluating it, as long as it offers cloud-related benefits and serves the intended purpose.
Our discussions with a wide range of enterprises show a growing propensity to embrace the hybrid cloud model. And our recent research, in which we analyzed the cost of operations under various infrastructure set-ups such as legacy, virtualized, private cloud, and hybrid cloud), found that the hybrid cloud model is definitely more cost effective and flexible as compared to other cloud models.
But, a word of caution: buyers must differentiate between a silo collection of different private and public cloud solutions and a hybrid cloud. A true hybrid implies the coordinated orchestration of private and public cloud to manage workloads.
So, where should buyers begin? Move beyond the futile “name game” and evaluate serious private and public cloud offerings to create a hybrid cloud environment that can transform their IT organization.