It feels so great when someone among the most recognized high tech analysts out there writes down exactly what you think. It’s an endorsement of your own thinking to read James Staten (@Staten7) from Forrester Research on “Why your enterprise private cloud is failing”, where he describes so clearly what you’ve always been thinking and trying to explain.
His blog is saying two important things:
- Enterprise private clouds are failing. As I’ve also written on a Quora answer to “What is the future of private cloud?”, no matter what marketing and vendors are saying, efficient, large scale production enterprise private clouds don’t exist as of today. In my opinion, cloud is an extremely new model in delivering IT infrastructure that the culture of its utilization won’t be able to reach the enterprise with a bottom-up approach (evolving from their current infrastructure) but only taking a top-down direction (deploying into public clouds and then migrating back in-house). A revolution as opposed to an evolution.
- Enterprise private clouds are failing due to the wrong approach taken by the IT department. Treating the cloud just like an infrastructure stack instead of a service, because “you are building the private cloud without engaging the buyers who will consume this cloud”, Staten says.
And of course, I wasn’t the only one recognizing “the truth” in James Staten’s words. His opinion on failing private clouds echoed throughout the web, generating a large consensus among cloud experts and visionaries such as James Urquhart (@jamesurquhart):
@Staten7 This is a post I wish I had written. Phenomenally clear articulation of the problem IT has with an infra-first focus on cloud.
— James Urquhart (@jamesurquhart) February 25, 2013
The two cloud models
Much has been already written about different approaches to the cloud and big brains have concluded that all of them can be summarized in two different cloud models. They have been given various names according to the author, but I shall refer to the nomenclature of the OpenNebula blog post.
- Datacenter Virtualization model: cloud as an extension of virtualization in the datacenter. Some more automation, service catagloue, etc. VMware vCloud-like approach.
- Infrastructure Provision model: a powerful service-oriented API to provision effectively and efficiently commodity computing resources. AWS-like approach.
With reference to the above models, James Staten is basically saying that the Datacenter Virtualization cloud model is wrong. That is not the right approach to implementing a private cloud. Because “a Porsche is [not] just a Volkswagen with better engine, tires, suspension and seats.”
Awesome. I’ve been convinced about that for some time. If you read my very first post on “Cloud Computing is not the evolution of virtualization”, as the title says, I’ve been always considering exclusively the Infrastructure Provision model as the only possible cloud implementation, completely excluding the Datacenter Virtualization to be even called cloud.
And I don’t think this was an extremist approach. As I said many times, cloud is a tremendous opportunity for the enterprise to start thinking differently. In my opinion, cloud will be able to reach the enterprise IT departments only using a top-down approach: from a public cloud implementation to back in-house. Enterprise cloud consumers will try (and love) the public cloud and eventually drive the implementation of something similar within the enterprise itself. But trying to transform the current virtualized infrastructure into a private cloud will simply fail. Fail to deliver a real elastic and service-oriented cloud infrastructure to the real cloud consumers.
Vendors didn’t get it
So what? All enterprise IT departments simply didn’t get it? What’s their problem? It’s a vendor problem. Enterprise software vendors didn’t get it. Every one of them started to think of the cloud as an opportunity (that’s good, as a matter of principle) and they all just tried to profit from the hype. For virtualization technology vendors, that was an easy path: adding a new product to their portfolio to “cloudify” the existing virtualization products, that would have been a natural extension to existing implementations within the enterprise. The perfect scenario for IT departments. Pity that it doesn’t work to deliver what cloud consumers are looking for.
But recently we heard something new from virtualization vendors. They actively started perceiving public clouds, and AWS in particular, as a threat to the workload which is (was?) currently running on their virtualization technology and that’s failing to migrate to private clouds for the above reasons. Despite their very rich cloud products portfolio, workload is still moving from the enterprises to commodity public clouds. Why?
Hearing VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger saying that he finds hard to believe they cannot beat a company that sells books, makes me think they really didn’t get the point at all. Good luck guys.
Hello Marco, I'm a new reader of your blog. Keep it up. With respect – I didn't read James' comments and take away that you can't build a private cloud on VMware infrastructure. I just read that you need to have a top down perspective; user 1st, reduce friction, service orientation. No reason you can't do that with a VMware based solution.
Hello Kurt. Thank you for following my blog and for taking the time to write a comment, really appreciated!
You are definitely right, you can build all of that on top of VMware vSphere as we know that virtualization is the key technology that makes cloud computing possible. However, vendors are the primary interface to the enterprise and VMware was one of those who passed the (wrong, IMHO) message that cloud can be considered just as an extension to the existing virtualized infrastructure. With the acquisition of DynamicOps and their engagement in the OpenStack foundation, they seem to have changed this approach but let's not forget the majority of their business still comes from ESX and that their primary goal is to make ESX "the" hypervisor for private clouds. Instead, most service-oriented cloud management products tend to be hypervisor-agnostic and to encourage the utilization of low cost commodity architectures, as opposed to VMware that tends to work better on high-end hardware platforms.