Is Your Private Cloud Defensive or Responsive?

Companies building private clouds mainly to keep developers from going to public clouds are too focused on the physical aspects of cloud -- and missing the point about the operational requirements, says Forrester Research's James Staten. Here, he shares five pieces of advice for private cloud success.

By James Staten, Forrester Research
Wed, January 12, 2011

CIO — A strong minority of enterprise IT shops are prioritizing the development of a private cloud, but Forrester surveys suggest these moves will fail. The reason lies in the motivation behind these efforts and the focus. Most are building private clouds to keep their developers from going to the public cloud and are focused on the physical aspects of the cloud, not the operations — and it's the operations that make the cloud.

"The Cloud" is no longer an elusive term that is just entering the market. Today, enterprises of all sizes and across all verticals are talking about, and deciding how to implement cloud strategies. That's because the promise of instant access to a technology service at a fraction of the cost of traditional IT deployments means faster time-to-market and higher productivity for the business. But, consuming public cloud services still poses major concerns for IT security and operations managers. Security remains the number one concern among senior IT decision-makers — cited almost twice as often as the next highest concern, maturity. As a result, for many enterprises their favored way of delivering cloud value without these risks is to set up a private cloud.

The prioritization of building a private cloud grew in 2010 for 24% of IT decision who view building an internal cloud as a high or critical priority. In examining these decision makers, we found that the desire to adopt an internal private cloud crosses industries and geographies. Yet two characteristics are strong indicators of the likelihood of building a private cloud: company size and growth of the virtualized environment. It's no surprise that 60% of those prioritizing private clouds are at companies with more than 1,000 employees. These large enterprises sink more investment into their own data centers, operations personnel, and IT processes, so they have more to lose if the business goes to the public cloud.

Although the prioritization of private clouds is affecting a wide range of organizations, investments in several key areas differ for those who are prioritizing versus those who are not. Specifically, increased investments are being made in four infrastructure categories to accommodate the private cloud option, including the overall data center budget and consulting and outsourcing services. But, these same organizations are still not investing enough in key operational requirements that are essential to guaranteeing the success of a private cloud. For example, automation and self-service portals are two major factors contributing to a well-oiled private cloud. Yet, 44% of those prioritizing private clouds have no plans to invest in automation software for their virtualized environment. And only 11% of cloud builders have a self-service portal implemented today, while 62% are interested, but holding off. It's going to be very difficult to lure developers away from the public cloud without these core features.

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