There’s a ZDnet blog by Mary-Jo Foley titled “ ‘Private cloud’ = just another buzzword for on-premise datacenter?” I caught the post on twitter (thanks Mr. Linthicum!), quickly favorited it because I knew I’d have a strong opinion on this one!
Turns out the article wasn’t what I thought. The article was about Microsoft’s odd dual-approach cloud strategy, a ‘public’ cloud via Azure or a private cloud via ‘other tools’ that are not Azure. Frankly, I think that’s ridiculous, unless those other tools are the same ones Microsoft uses to run the Azure cloud, but… I’d like to talk about Mary-Jo’s original topic.
You see, I think for many, ‘private cloud’ will unfortunately be a fancy of way of talking about their datacenter. I think the many will be wrong.
On technical architecture drawings, a datacenter may look like a cloud… it may have all the hardware, networks, and even server virtualization and features of a cloud, but I strongly suspect that most IT organizations will stop there, and not think about the results achieved, and therefore not go far enough with their datacenters to make them true clouds.
What’s the difference? Well, it’s really in the “feel” the “intent” and ultimately in the results.
As a result of my deep interest in leadership, and some internal projects I’ve worked on in the past, I’ve become a student of social computing. I think most people relate me to enterprise messaging architecture, and less so to social computing. That’s OK, but I’ve realized that I really get social computing, perhaps because I’m an innate leader, and social computing is about leadership. (more on that in another post another time)
My point is, you can have a list of “check boxes” to support on a website and think you’ve built a community. You’re stumped when you’re not getting “community results” and can’t figure out why. It’s because the feel of the interaction is forced, and the intent was to build something viral… yet if it’s forced, people won’t be energized, and it won’t succeed. An example on one “community” I’ve been exposed to… I was adamant that it supported tagging as a way to categorize information rather than a fixed taxonomy based upon what some architect (who’s never been in the role of the users) thinks is appropriate. I was promised it would support tagging, and it does… for the people who create content. User tagging is not allowed. Duh? What? Yeah, user tagging not allowed. If users can’t participate, it’s not a community, but that nothing to do with the technology employed (the technology architecture supports it).
So, list of features. Check. Intent. Fail. Fail big. Project fail. (That’s a prediction folks… it’s a project that hasn’t figured out that it’s failed yet… don’t tell them.)
Same goes for cloud computing. You need to implement technology… and intent. Technology alone isn’t enough.
So, what’s the intent behind cloud computing? I’ve got a few “mission statements” to describe it, but one I like that’s catchy, is:
Turning a commodity into a utility
Unfortunately, most IT organizations (and in fact, the whole ITIL methodology) focus on “projects” not “products” and until IT approaches the cloud as a “product to evolve over time” they simply won’t be successful. You see, it’s never “done”, and until IT understands that we’re just building castles in the sand below the tide line.
Finally, I hope vendors will ship tools and products that help companies turn their datacenters into clouds, I know of big and small companies who are (attempting) to do so. I wish them luck, but am skeptical.
It’s a long evolution from datacenter to cloud. Remember the last time we evolved and what happened to the monkeys? I think this time the monkeys realize they’re endangered, and are not going to go down without a fight.