The State Of Private Cloud Among Enterprise Clients in 2015

Business managers and C-suite executive around the globe are coming under peer and competitive pressure to start saying yes to the proposition of private cloud deployments. Within large enterprises the burden of providing a cloud solution to the new world of a mobile first workforce, usually falls primarily on IT departments to come up with all the answers. Usually facing limiting deadlines, the IT department often forced to go with the simplest solution in the short term, rather that think strategically.

According to Gartner analyst Tom Bittman, the majority of corporate private clouds are failing,

“I was a little surprised that 95% of the 140 respondents (who had private clouds in place) said something was wrong with their private cloud. [1]”

This is a very high ratio, regardless of what technology enterprises said that they used for their private cloud be it Microsoft, VMware, OpenStack  or other. This report offers several reasons as to why these perceived failures happen.

When he asked the question

“What is going wrong with your private cloud?” the answer turned out to be that

“The average corporate private cloud environment wasn’t built to the specifications of its internal customers but, instead, was a reflection of what IT was comfortable doing and wanted the private cloud to be.”

Priv Vendors 2011 2014 [1]
The following fix reasons were identified as the source of pain for executives.

  1. Focusing on the wrong benefits: Internal, bottom-line, or not putting the right metrics in place. (Usually, this is means focusing on cost-savings, not agility).
  2. Doing too little: Is this really cloud? Or just virtualization? And what about the stuff running inside the VMs?
  3. Defending I&O — and doing too much: Optimizing for everything means optimizing for nothing.
  4. Failure to change the operational model: Agile clouds need agile processes — and people are your biggest supporters, or your biggest roadblocks.
  5. Failure to change the funding model: When you build a drive-thru service model, you better get paid first.
  6. Using the wrong technologies: What’s tactically right might be strategically wrong. [1]

These finding are also backed up by  Forrester Research Inc. Senior Analyst Lauren Nelson calls private clouds, “Enhanced Virtualization” environments. In this context, he is using the term “Enhanced Virtualization” to make it clear that most enterprise private clouds are little more than traditional static virtual machine environments with just a touch of automation to drive up IT efficiency. Unlike public and hybrid cloud deployments, these private cloud deployments lack self-service to the developer, don not provide quick access to fully configured environments, they are also not metered (let alone pay-per-use) and typically don’t support containers. So in order for private cloud administrators to properly step back and think long term and strategically about the new enterprise applications,  they need to:

“rethink your approach and make the radical and culturally difficult shift from infrastructure management to service delivery. You need to learn from the clouds, but more importantly, reflect what your developers want from your private cloud solution.”[2]

Now this being said, Forrester does continue to see interest in and reported adoption of private cloud solutions — according their Hardware Survey, in 2014,

“55% of North American and European enterprises plan to prioritize building an internal private cloud, and 33% already having adopted private cloud. “[2]

Despite the fact that executives are becoming increasingly aware about these private cloud shortcomings, Forrester found that only 1/4 of “private cloud” environments even try to establish self-service access for its users without and so end up with very little cloud-specific benefits.[2]

A possible response to these conclusions can definitely be found in hybrid, or public scenarions. Microsoft as the enterprise market favorite legacy vendor came up earlier this year with the G-series of Azure Virtual Machines which they promote as the largest VM size provided by any public cloud provider on the market right now. These public cloud VMs inlcude up to 32-cores of CPU, 448 GB of memory and 6.59 TB of local SSD-based storage that allow enterprises to perform up to 2,000 MB/sec of storage throughput when combined with Azure Premium Storage, which apparently is more than double any other public cloud provider. These capabilities along with 20 gbps of network bandwidth, provide a much more ideal solution for even the most demanding enterprise based workloads, and relational databases like SQL Server, MySQL, PostGres and other large data warehouse solutions. It is hard to imagine that the resistance to more hybrid scenarios that leverage the performance of public clouds like the example above, will survive in a market which constantly looks for productivity gains for a long time to come.

[1] Gartner Blog, Problems Encountered by 95% of Private Clouds, Tom Bittman, February 5, 2015

[2] Azure Blog, Why Your Private Cloud is Failing – Join Me at OpenStack Silicon Valley, James Statten, August 20, 2015
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[3] SkotGu’s Blog, Announcing the Biggest VM Sizes Available in the Cloud: New Azure GS-VM Series, Scott Gu, September 2, 2015