Forrester: 70 per cent of private Clouds aren't really Clouds at all

It's a huge problem, according to the researcher

If an enterprise data center has a highly virtualised environment, a Web portal for business users to request and access virtual machines and a method for tracking how many of those resources are being used... that's not quite a private Cloud.

If there is enough capacity to supply employees with almost any amount of compute resources they need, and scale that capacity up and down dynamically, but it requires IT workers to provision the systems, then sorry that's not a private Cloud either.

The line between virtualization and a private cloud can be a fuzzy one, and according to a new report by Forrester Research, up to 70 per cent of what IT administrators claim are private clouds are not.

It's a huge problem," says Forrester Cloud expert James Staten. "It's cloud-washing."

[MORE CLOUD: Microsoft Azure overtakes Amazon's cloud in performance test

[CLOUD SHOWDOWN: Amazon vs. Rackspace (OpenStack) vs. Microsoft vs. Google

Why's it such a big deal? Staten says if you call a highly virtualised environment a cloud, but it doesn't have one or more of the key characteristics of a private Cloud, then the IT department is setting an unrealistic expectation for users. If users are disappointed when they find out the environment doesn't have self-provisioning, or an elastic resources pool, they can get discouraged.

The next time they need a VM on the fly, where will they turn? The pseudo-private cloud IT has set up, or Amazon Web Services, which IT could have no control over.

Most cloud experts have settled on a generally-agreed upon definition of cloud computing - be it public or private - as having the five characteristics outlined by the National Institutes for Standards in Technology.

These include:

  • On-demand, self-service for users
  • Broad network access
  • Shared resource pool
  • Ability to elastically scale resources
  • Having measured service

Without those five bullets, it's not technically a Cloud. Contrary to some people's beliefs, virtualisation is not a private cloud; it's an essential ingredient to powering clouds, but in and of itself it does not create one. Mike Adams, marketing manager for VMware, says a private Cloud incorporates more sophisticated management capabilities on top of a virtualised environment, giving it the qualities outlined in the NIST definition.

Andi Mann, a vice-president of Strategic Solutions at CA Technologies and cloud pundit, pumps the brakes a little bit on this discussion though. "If you don't have all five (characteristics), then you're getting into semantics," he says. The real question, he says, is not whether the five check marks can be made to call something a Cloud - it's whether IT is serving its users appropriately.

"Sometimes 80 per cent of cloud is good enough," he says. "What it's really all about is business service. Who cares what you call it; what you care about is that your customers, your business users have the resources they need."

Maybe the enterprise doesn't need elastic scalability because there are static workloads. It still has all the other benefits of a Cloud - self-service, chargebacks, broad network access and a shared resource pool. But, it may not technically meet that NIST definition. "So, if you want to be technical, call it what it is: A highly efficient virtual environment," Mann said.

So where does all this cloud-washing come from? Staten said fundamentally IT administrators are scared of the Cloud. Virtualisation experts within the enterprise used to be the top-dogs; when resources were needed, they provisioned the capacity. Cloud is seen as threatening that model by giving users self-service and dynamically scalable resources. What's left for the virtualization expert to do?

Staten says that's the wrong way to think about it. There's still a lot for IT administrator set up, making sure the cloud has a catalogue of options available to users, complete with the appropriate security protocols, resource availability and virtualisation components. Admins must embrace that philosophy, because if they don't then users will access the resources themselves anyway, leading to the dreaded "shadow IT."

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Cloudcloud computingMicrosoftinternetData CentervirtualizationForrester Researchhardware systemsWDConfiguration / maintenance

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Brandon Butler

Network World
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?