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If your organization is planning on using the cloud – and who isn’t – you have probably been hearing a discussion around Private vs. Public cloud. You need to dig into this debate and understand what is motivating the desire to build a private cloud. Why? Most pundits report that the majority of private cloud deployments turn out unsatisfactory with wasted resources and disappointing performance. Here are six points to consider as you listen to the conversation:

Myths vs. realities:

  1. Private cloud is just as powerful and cost effective as public cloud; some even argue it’s even better. The truth– you will never match the price and performance of a public cloud – ever. A private cloud cannot meet the sheer scale, automation, low power consumption, feature richness and purchasing power of a public cloud unless it is just as big and bad. Your needs are probably not in that league.
  1. Security is always raised as a bogeyman. After all, feels kind of uncomfortable that your data is not physically present in your data center, doesn’t it. You can relate. Here is the fact: public clouds are actually more secure than private clouds. Why? The underlying infrastructure has more security resources assigned to designing, building and operating it than your firm will ever have. However, if your team doesn’t practice good IT security hygiene in deploying your applications, it won’t matter what infrastructure you use. Your security people, processes and organization are the issues you need to explore more.
  1. Public cloud is not as reliable as private. Why, just look at some of those outages Amazon Web Services (AWS) has had, right? This is a great anecdote. When you are the 800-pound gorilla in the market with over 10 times the capacity of the next 14 competitors combined – you tend to draw microscopic attention for any slip. Reality is AWS up time is 9974% and Google and Microsoft actually fare better. Most users and analysts estimate enterprise data center availability (read private cloud) at between only 95 percent and 98.5 percent.

Legitimate reason to consider:

  1. You likely have legacy applications that are too fragile or costly to move to a public cloud. This reason is legitimate. However, don’t be fooled that you are moving them to a private cloud. You are probably not. You might be raising the efficiency of your use of machines through some established techniques you probably should have done a while ago (virtualization) but that’s not cloud. Your best strategy is just to leave them in place. Your business decision here is when do you want to retire it and move to a more contemporary solution.

Suspect Motivations to watch for:

  1. Vendor Influence – A lot of the information and perspective your firm gets on IT solutions come from your current vendors. They are interacting with your people almost daily and they have a very definite perspective on private vs. public cloud. They are terrified of you adopting public cloud. Why? Simple, when you move to the cloud you stop buying from them. Want proof? Take a look at how “well” the traditional IT vendors are doing. IBM, HP, Oracle, etc. are becoming poster children for the demise of the old on-premise model.
  1. Your Own People – Cloud can represent either a threat or an opportunity to the staff currently running your IT infrastructure. Depending on which will shape their perspective and recommendations. This is just human nature but you need to be aware. Public cloud can represent the same kind of threat to your people that it does to your traditional vendors. In an enterprise data center like yours up to 40% of the costs are labor. Fewer machines to manage means less need for labor.

On the flip side, ironically, cloud is also the new skill that all IT professional need to possess. If they have the opportunity to build a private cloud, which is an extension of their comfort zone, their credentials are easily burnished. Of course, the odds are long that you will like what you get. An ideal path here, but potentially more challenging for them, is to use public cloud to lift up your people’s skills and capabilities. Your people grow and you are insured you get the best of performance and cost effectiveness.

Sunning up – Cloud is becoming the preferred compute infrastructure of the future. But, few companies who implement private cloud actually get cloud at all. They just spend a lot of money and time and get few or none of the benefits of self-service, agility, and efficiency that cloud promises. As a business leader it behooves you to take a moment to consider the myths, reasons and motivations that are sure to be swirling around the discussion. Remember the use of cloud is a business decision, not a technical one.

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