3 years deep into the world of cloud, I must say I am regularly surprised by the question of Public vs. Private vs. Hybrid clouds. When you’re immersed in a domain, these things seem.. known. So, when asked to write about them, I lacked inspiration. And then I gave it a second thought. We’ve moved forward 3 years. Things HAVE changed.
Let’s establish some baseline (yes, you can argue about them) definitions:
- Private clouds are clouds built by an organization exclusively to serve their own needs, housed within their data centers or hosted in a location that is effectively “on-site” to that company
- Public clouds are built by a 3rd party for consumption, for a fee, by companies needing additional capacity. These are shared resources between multiple entities.
- Hybrid clouds are an amalgam model by which a company augments their own private cloud with external public resources.
Right. Done. Now – let’s challenge this model, which is beginning to feel SO 2010.
It is clear from enormous amounts of research, including last year’s survey we did with Forrester Research, that every organization, whether they accept it or not, has some public cloud footprint. Some falls under “shadow IT”, and some is explicitly managed by the IT department. But, very few organizations, from finance to government, have zero public footprint.
Now, let’s consider private clouds. Most organizations seem to be pursuing something of a private cloud, whether they use the C word or not. Some system by which users can make requests for IT resources that are rapidly fulfilled (usually automated). Driven by demands for agility and cost reduction, most companies are at some stage of this process – whether planning, building, or rolling it out.
These two things come together to demonstrate that, in the words of the inimitable James Staten of Forrester Research: You are already hybrid.
So the question becomes not “which shall we choose” but “how do we balance?” That’s a very 2013 topic.
You balance based on a number of factors, each tailored to your own organization. Factors like:
- When will my private cloud be ready?
- What workloads will it support? what options do I have to support key workloads on different public clouds?
- How does my organization balance Capital Expenses vs. Operating Expenses? Does it matter what quarter we’re in? Which LOB we’re supporting?
- What are my compliance obligations – and how does each option meet them?
- What are my users’ current behaviors? Will it be easier to embrace those or change them to meet my priorities?
The list can go on, but the upshot is clear. Your cloud strategy needs to answer not only the architectural questions but also the policy questions around clouds. And, as always, a stitch in time…*