Private cloud is NOT dead – and for one good reason: Control of data

Privacy, security, information sovereignty, what we all want, right?

Comment Reports that private clouds are dead are greatly exaggerated.

Far from being dead, IDC’s latest research shows that private clouds are expected to grow at the same rate as public clouds for the next five years. This will not surprise anyone who has worked in or with an enterprise IT operation. Even public cloud giant AWS is building one of the largest private clouds for the CIA.

In spite of armchair pundits claiming private cloud is a failure, both private and public clouds are doing very well and the reasons should be obvious.

To start, I need to get some disclosures out of the way. I work for Hitachi Data Systems. While I do not speak for HDS, I do speak about HDS and I get the opportunity to work with some of the largest IT operations in the world. We genuinely don’t have a horse in the “Public vs Private Cloud” race: our technology is used by some of the largest public, private and hybrid cloud implementations in the world. I also host a successful podcast here on The Register, “Speaking in Tech,” where we get to talk with industry leaders that span IT vendors and users.

I’m far from being an expert but I am fortunate to have a front row seat to witness the dramatic transformations taking place in our industry.

Cloud adoption, whether it is public, private or hybrid, is growing as are the strategic challenges. Adopting a cloud strategy isn’t about a specific technology as much as it is about organization transformation and specifically IT transformation. While this may be well known, some pundits and analysts keep slipping into the technology adoption debate of “public vs. private” clouds.

These types of debates almost always avoid the strategic challenges CIOs face between business requirements and the IT services they provide. Without organization transformation aligned to clear business objectives, any cloud service is doomed for failure.

There is also the recognition that different businesses have different IT requirements and not all of them fall into a clean definition for cloud delivery. Contrary to some rather narrow minded thinking among some analysts and pundits, there is no one true cloud. While one business may have web scale applications that require IT resource elasticity, another may have business requirements with a fixed or predictable workload.

Some businesses view IT as pure overhead and outsource the management of IT infrastructure while others believe that internal management of IT drives business value. Interestingly enough, none of these are features that call for a specific type of cloud delivery.

Security, privacy and data sovereignty

There is, however, one consistent defining feature that directly impacts cloud delivery strategy: control of data. This includes security, privacy and data sovereignty. While agility, elasticity, cost, speed of deployment are all very important attributes of a cloud deployment, I’ve never heard a CIO claim any of these were a higher priority than control of data.

As further validation, a recent survey [PDF] by The Economist (disclosure: the survey was commissioned by HDS), 87 per cent of the respondents cited that their senior management team is strongly concerned about protecting the security and privacy of corporate data as part of their organization’s strategy for cloud computing adoption. It’s worth noting that “faster access to infrastructure” ranked 7th among business objectives for cloud deployments which is likely a reflection on CIO priorities rather than those of developers.

As a consequence, different companies will take different approaches to their cloud strategy based on the business objectives and their perceived risks. No single type of cloud deployment addresses every business requirement or risk profile, but it does explain why private clouds are just as viable and growing at the same rate as public clouds.

While control of data may be a barrier to public cloud adoption, deploying a private cloud can also be a barrier for others. Private cloud adoption doesn’t necessarily mean that enterprises are buying, building and managing their own infrastructure. Many choose a hosted private cloud service to leverage both scale and resources while still managing and controlling their own data.

A comprehensive 451 Research report recently identified that hosted private clouds today accounted 25 per cent of budget for off-premises infrastructure spending and growing to 29 per cent in two years. Public cloud accounted for 17 per cent today and growing to 18 per cent in two years.

Again, this is not about private clouds being a better option than public clouds. The point is that private clouds are not dying or failing. Both have strong value propositions based on business requirements and this is validated by the market adoption of each. ®

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