Public vs. private clouds: Our Advisory Board weighs in

Are private clouds the data centers of the future? Server Virtualization Advisory Board members tackle that question and debate public vs. private clouds.

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Private clouds are all the rage these days, as organizations look to move beyond consolidation and get more out of server virtualization technology.

Private clouds host and deliver applications and resources on demand from the data center. But private clouds are just one type of cloud computing. There are also public clouds, which are run externally by large service providers. This model offers some benefits over private clouds, but it also raises some security concerns.

The public vs. private clouds debate will be an important issue as cloud computing becomes more popular. For now, many organizations are dealing with the transition from traditional, virtual data centers to private clouds. Members of our Server Virtualization Advisory Board tackle this issue and debate public vs. private clouds as they answer this question:

Are private clouds the data centers of the future?

 

Jack Kaiser, GreenPages Technology Solutions

The simple answer is yes, the private cloud model is starting to resonate with organizations designing (or redesigning) data centers. CIOs realize that pooled resources with a virtualization layer allows for greater flexibility and efficiency -- and should be more cost effective.

The term "private" means "internal" or "proprietary," and it makes people feel better than "public" or "shared" clouds, where security concerns slow down adoption. The ultimate goal is to move to the public cloud as much as possible, because there should be greater cost savings thanks to higher utilization levels. However, in reality, most people will keep many workloads internal (private) and federate workloads to service providers (public) only when it's a strong fit.

Enterprises are trying to find the right balance between the two types of clouds, and private clouds are a great first step on the journey to the public cloud.

 

Rob McShinsky, Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center

Fear of public clouds, justified or not, is a reality. Being that there are still significant cost savings in creating internally managed or private clouds using virtualization technologies, there is little incentive at this time to move to a public cloud that is still maturing.

On top of that, until regulators for certain industries like financial and medical institutions are able to set detailed, certifiable, guidelines to public cloud providers, I see more growth in private clouds. When these types of private infrastructures become the norm, and there are additional efficiencies and cost savings to be had in a mature public cloud, then I see the internal infrastructure of today moving outward.

You can expect to see blended, hybrid clouds for many years to come as organizations desensitize themselves from their fears. The housing of servers inside corporate data centers will be a hard habit to break, even if moving to the public cloud is the right decision.

 

Greg Shields, Concentrated Technology

Of the future? You can argue that, for most of us, private clouds are the data centers of the present.

The National Institute of Standards and Technologies (NIST) defines private clouds as "[a] cloud infrastructure [that] is owned or leased by a single organization and is operated solely for that organization." Essentially, all the niceties that you would expect out of a cloud provider are those you should expect to get with a private cloud. The only difference is that you're running it yourself, or someone is running it for you -- but only for you.

Private clouds are little more than a bit of marketing trickery to make you believe there's more there than there really is. A private cloud means "your virtual machines exist somewhere on the network." That network is "your LAN." And the resources used to create that cloud are "elastic," growing and shrinking to meet the demands of your virtual workloads.

 

If you're virtualized, you have these things today.

So, in the end, should you care about private clouds? Not really. With clustering, load balancing, Distributed Resource Scheduler, high availability, automated provisioning and all the management automation that you've already got in your virtual infrastructure, there's already a few puffy white ones in your data center.

 

Rick Vanover, Alliance Data

Private clouds are part of the data center of the future. I expect that in most situations, there will still be a desire to both fully manage and fully control select parts of the information technology footprint. This may mean that the most sensitive and critical systems are candidates for a private cloud.

It is pretty clear that we will only see more public cloud options develop. Public clouds may be an attractive option to offload certain tiers of infrastructure -- for cost, performance, access and security considerations. The key will be to bridge the gap between private and public clouds while maintaining distinct technical boundaries. Well-defined governance procedures will ensure that the right workloads exist in the right places.

Have a question for the Server Virtualization Advisory Board? Email Colin Steele, Site Editor.

This was first published in April 2010

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