Don't Trivialize the Challenges of the Enterprise Cloud

Last week at the Structure 2011 conference, one of the most interesting and lively discussions I sat in was on the topic of the private enterprise cloud. Val Bercovici, Cloud Czar Netapp, Pete Malcolm, CEO of Abiquo, and Chris Weitz, Director of Strategy & Arch at Deloitte led the discussion that was full of insights and one-liners when it came to enterprise IT and cloud computing.

There has been a lot of talk on the subject of the private cloud and some have even gone so far as to say that it is not a worthwhile effort to pursue. Why even bother attempting to build a private cloud for your enterprise when it can be done so much faster and cheaper through a public cloud offering?

The panel put the hammer down on any attempt to trivialize the challenges that enterprises has to address when it comes to providing business services to their customers.

Here are some observations from the discussion:

  • The business requirements that must be taken into account such as order locations, data collection and retention, and taxes are significant enough to prevent public cloud deployments.
  • Just because the business can’t use the public cloud doesn’t mean that they can’t capture value by increased agility and flexibility with their internal systems
  • The biggest need for the private cloud is for enterprise apps that aren't/can't be rewritten
  • For some enterprises, the private cloud may mean a virtualization factory that factors in elasticity

While the panel agreed that internal automation must be a priority for the enterprise, the concept of self-service needs to be looked at differently. Self-service in the enterprise is about reducing separation between the IT development teams and IT operations – it doesn’t mean everyone in the enterprise can spin up servers at will.

While I don’t foresee this debate ending any time soon, I think the points brought up in the discussion are worth considering before jumping on the “public cloud or bust bandwagon.” Don’t assume that cost is the only motivator for moving to the cloud and realize that the enterprise is going to have to do their own assessment to determine the best approach.

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Image Credit:  Panel slide from Structure Conference



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