What Private Clouds and Cloud “Youngsters” have (not) in common

What is a Cloud “Youngster”? For the benefit of this post I will use the term for those traditional IT providers moving into offering Cloud services. And I am mainly talking about Enterprise Cloud providers; i.e. those who want to transform themselves from being an Enterprise hosting and outsourcing partner to a (public) Cloud provider for large enterprises.

So, what is this commonness about?

The question raises as Cloud “Youngsters” typically evolve from some elephant-like organizations who’s processes serve the purpose of utmost control of their IT’s consumption. Myriads of personal take proper care of exactly what happens when with which portion of the IT, when used through an application of one of their customers who – in a long enduring engagement process – outsourced their stuff to the IT provider (the “hoster”). And this scenario is actually not that much different from how IT is provided internally to a company’s business lines. Today.

In short: the keyword for how this works is – “slow”.

With the evolution of Cloud the hoster becomes the “Cloud Youngster” taking its experience in providing IT to offer a Cloud to its customers.

Which is good. No question about it. The problem raises when after that decision (“we have a lot of experience in how to do this – let’s provide a cloud“) nothing happens in addition …

E.g.: Check out this teched blog post: “Private Cloud Principles” (http://blogs.technet.com/b/privatecloud/archive/2010/10/12/private-cloud-principles.aspx). It describes in a pretty abstract manner what challenges are faced when the internal provider of IT to a company’s business wants to start providing IT as a Cloud. No, I won’t repeat the post, of course; but I’ll stress a few bullet points:

  • A comsuming entity must perceive compute resources as being infinite even thought they aren’t
  • Mitigating failure through redundancy of components is too resource consuming
  • Reduce human involvement for the sake of agility and predicatbility
  • Incentive a behaviour which drives consumption down whenever possible

Our “Youngster” faces exactly the same challenges as its IT is far from being infinite, whereas its customer’s expectation demands exactly that: infinite resources. Closing this gap without investing into huge DC ramp ups can only be done through the measures described above (and more); and I believe the article gives quite a good guideline for a few paradigms (while it is pleasently economical with Microsoft product references ;)).

Therefore, I’d claim that Cloud “Youngsters” have a lot if not all in common with a company having decided to take the change challenge and transform their internal IT provisioning into a Private Cloud.

What – as I experienced it – they do not have in common, though, is the commitment for change.

Large hosters/outsourcers oftenly tend to believe that the step into being a Cloud provider is done by leveraging their processes, paradigms and provisioning means and just virtualizing their infrastructure. That approach leaks the clear decision for transformation. Tranformation far too often ends in slide ware and not at the end of a proper program to establish fully elastic IT-as-a-Service – for the benefit of Cloud customers.

Taking this decision and really executing upon it is probably the bigest challenge in it all. The ones starting kicking their IT into a Private Cloud have done this decision. Deliberately and consciously.

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