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While we’ve finally stopped – for the most part anyway – arguing over the very definition of cloud computing, we have just begun arguing over other cloud-related topics. “Hybrid” and “private” cloud are likely two of the most contentious subjects today, the very definitions of which are still at times hotly debated. There are some who assert that private cloud computing is nothing more than in practice than highly virtualized data centers while others claim such implementations are real and providing significant value to the organizations that have undertaken to build them.

When Randy and I sat down to fill out the Private Clouds track for CloudConnect we came at the topic from very different perspectives. Thus we tried to craft a set of sessions and invite panelists from a wide variety of experiences and industries – from vendors to experts to media to enterprises – as a means to more fully explore both the up and downside of private cloud computing.

It seems inevitable to me, at least, that hybrid cloud – when defined as the integration of disparate cloud implementations to form a virtual data center, if you will – will be the end result. A large number of organizations are already highly invested in public cloud computing, primarily SaaS offerings, and have significant investment in the integration and orchestration of said services into their own existing systems and services. As organizations move ahead with their own cloud computing initiatives, i.e. private cloud computing, that would seem to indicate an end result of a hybrid cloud computing environment – public and private, integrated and orchestrated together.

That’s easier said than done. There is a difference between a highly virtualized data center and private cloud computing, and as an organization moves from the former to the latter there are obstacles and challenges that must be met and overcome. Simply choosing a platform upon which to build and orchestrate the services that make up a private cloud computing offering is challenging, with a growing variety of solutions from both the open source and commercial world.  Choosing the “right” platform and solutions is certainly highly dependent on organizational goals and policies, but there are technical issues such as interoperability and the robustness of solution support that must also be taken into consideration. There is no simple answer, no single “right” solution because cloud computing regardless of location is about matching technology to business and operational goals; it’s about leveraging solutions and services and offerings in a way that enables an organization to be leaner and more efficient while operating within the legal and financial constraints placed upon them.

But there are folks who disagree; who firmly believe private and hybrid cloud computing don’t actually exist or, if they do, that they are merely transitory architectures that enable organizations to get to the ultimate deployment model that is public cloud computing. Is that the case? Is hybrid cloud fact, is it fiction, or is it the future of data center models? The private cloud track will culminate in just such a discussion. It’s a very pertinent question, as knowing where you’re going will certainly influence how you get there and how you build out an architecture to support your end goals.

Cloud models both obviously and subtly alter infrastructure, network, and storage decisions. It is with these concerns and issues in mind that Randy and I have crafted the Private Clouds track at CloudConnect this year, and it is our intent that the sessions provide a perspective that covers both sides of the subject – the good and the bad, the obvious and the subtle, the advocate and the critic.

2 Responses to “Hybrid Cloud: Fact, Fiction or Future?”

  1. Kavion 25 Feb 2011 at 6:52 am

    Interesting dialogue.. I am going to watch for your further posts on this subject to see how it can help reduce some confusion (which may be good for sometime I suppose).

  2. clickeron 28 Feb 2011 at 1:46 pm

    Private Cloud? Really? Do you still have to purchase, & maintain, license and scale hardware for the peak demand that your “private cloud” will need to support the services its providing? If so, this is called your IT infrastructure. Even if you are running the V word inside of your IT Infrastructure, the fact remains that this is not a private cloud…even if that cloud decides to “scale up”. Why? Well, IMHO, its because it can’t scale down. Its a pool of fixed resources available to meet the demand, up to a certain point, and then you go buy more hardware. Not to mention that along the way you are paying the salaries of many project managers, architects, systems, and operations folks too. Seems that if you can get a fully licensed instance of a system pre-configured, for just the amount of time your service needs it, that it woudl be much cheaper than paying for a bunch of machinery up-front, to stand idle while waiting for the “worst case load” to happen.

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