back to article Private clouds kinda suck, you know?

Are enterprises really starting to act like service providers? If you ask vendors, social media and "thought influencers" hired to speak at conferences, the answer is yes. I'm not so sure. On the one hand, we're asked to believe that enterprises are almost universally adopting private and hybrid cloud solutions in order to …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is this not relabelling?

    Nice article, but I'm puzzled, probably due to a lack of knowledge. I have avoided the whole cloud thing for various reasons (mainly because I have enough legal arguments to beat up accountants with if one of them threatens to utter the words "cost savings") so I'm probably out of date on this topic.

    Isn't a private cloud basically an end user/middle management term for the virtualised data centre of old before someone decided that we really needed a word that idiots/politicians (pretty much synonymous) could throw around without immediately being laughed at, thus accidentally also introducing the problem that those now somehow consider themselves "experts" in the matter?.

    Or maybe that's what it should be?

    Because if it is not, the question is why there isn't a proper private format yet. Surely such a hole in the market must attract "solutions" like a picnic attracts ants?

    1. Nate Amsden Silver badge

      Re: Is this not relabelling?

      What you describe is utility computing in my mind which is all most orgs need. Overhead with true cloud is massive and not worth it outside of very very large scale.

      Though management types love the concept of cloud(public or private). They just don't understand the costs or overhead involved(and trade offs). Some learn the hard way (my current and previous management did at previous companies). Some never stop trying. Others may think they have cloud with virtualization and some automation on top.

      To me the only worthwhile cloud is SaaS. IaaS and PaaS are both stupid jokes in every incarnation with no signs of them getting better.

      No I haven't wasted my time on vmware or microsoft or openstack cloud things. I am a solid customer of esxi and vcenter though (fuck the web client .NET client all the way. Never thought I'd be saying that as a Linux user for the past 20 years and vmware customer for 17 years )

      1. Mick Russom

        Re: Is this not relabelling?

        If you view the compute world through vcenter you are at risk of becoming Jurassic. I use vsphere and friends all the time but the days of having VMware and its huge ELAs jammed in the middle are at risk - badly.

        Public Cloud is never "cheap", private cloud is a mess, and you can do a LOT of neat things with vsphere and friends but the days of VMware are at risk - that stuff is just piles of job security at this point. Its a mess.

    2. ColinJ

      Re: Is this not relabelling?

      I think if you see VMWare vSphere (shared infra, redundancy, optimization, efficiency) a la enterpirse infra 5 years ago and compare to Amazon today (auto-scaling, software defined networking, utility computing, charge-back etc) then a true Private cloud should be in the middle of this.

    3. Robert E A Harvey

      Re: Is this not relabelling?

      I think so. It is the old days of "the mainframe" brought up to date, with the browser as a thin client and all services delivered through apps.

    4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Is this not relabelling?

      "idiots/politicians (pretty much synonymous)"

      The word you're looking for is "marketing".

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Is this not relabelling?

      This is another classic "Trevor Troll" post. You will notice that nowhere in the article does he refer to a single private cloud he has stood up or refer to a specific IT dept that has deployed a private cloud. He reads what others (who also haven't deployed a private cloud) are saying and recycles the useless noise.

      Since Trevor can't write about a real private cloud, here is a long list of real private clouds built on OpenStack - complete with case studies:

      1. Mick Russom

        Re: Is this not relabelling?

        I've worked with BrokenStack everyday at work since mid-2013. None of the major distros (RH, Mirantis, Canonical or Rackspace) are by default production un-usable. Upgrades are horrible. Lifecycle is horrible. Scaling is horrible. Federation is horrible. Piece of the solution fail spectacularly. You need sumologic/loggly plus ELK plus Riemann just to make sense of all the trash logs generated by BrokenStack. What I am seeing more now is companies are bringing their networks/routers to Amazon/Google/Azure and getting sub-private-cloud pricing on storage and compute while keeping the bandwidth bills under control by using their own networks. Anyways, the last 2.5 years of my life have been most likely wasted on working on BrokenStack. Red Hat, normally the bastion of sanity in the opensource bazaar, has gone off the rails a bit and has done nothing to productize brokenstack. Mirantis simply wants you to use Fuel to install a mostly working setup and then be slave to their professional services. Canonical is interesting but they rip and replace and change everything ever 9-12 months so its hard to use them over time. Rackspace is ok - their model is run the playbooks and everything gets fixed and that is nice but upgrades of major releases is a bear. After working with brokenstack for this long I'll know what the private cloud POC needs to look like in my next job. I know exactly how to make all these snake oil vendors collapse with a few simple test cases for the POC.

        BrokenStack is also largely a virtualization platform which fails to consider nesting within VMs, containers or bare-metal services.

        I have a new word for brokenstack - openshitack

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    They want to buy a cloud solution, and indeed sometimes do, but the organisational changes needed to actually deliver it as a service over time are often far more complex than expected (its clearly not in the sales pitch)

    I disagree to an extend with the horribleness of the various solutuions described in the article as the products all have their strengths as well as weaknesses.

    But, if you have a network team, a storage team, a database team, several disparate development teams and suddenly expect them to merge and cooperate it does not really matter how the infrastructure is provided, private, public or managed. they all still need to agree that the cloud will provision storage, IP networking, elastic nodes requiring applications to demobilise nodes, etc. This is the hard bit - not the management solution itself - its an adjustment of approach entirely.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Enterprises...

      Yes and setting up, customizing, training all and sundry, and restructuring the entire business processes around, all remind me of ERP. I fully expect a whole lot of fail stories to start appearing here over the next few years (probably next decade come to think on it).

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    OwnCloud. Open Source, runs on Linux and gives us global access to our files anywhere where there is Internet.

    It isn't as 100% functional as DropBox, but fills our needs.

    1. robertcirca

      What is a cloud ?

      The Anonymous Coward so far has given us a lot of good and very good feedback. However, he has not the slightest idea of what a cloud is. This is OK, because he already confessed he has no idea what a cloud is.

      Something like DROPBOX? Definitely NOT!

      So now i doubt if all his earlier stories - where he seems to be an expert in any topic - are based on phantasy or knowledge.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What is a cloud ?

        Actually, Rotating Robert, the correct answer is c) both of the above. There's more than one of us!!!!!!!!!!!one!!!!!one!!one!!!!one

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What is a cloud ?

        So now i doubt if all his earlier stories - where he seems to be an expert in any topic - are based on phantasy or knowledge.

        There's a disconnect in your logic. If the A/C admits to a lack of knowledge and thus asks a question, that is not the same as where an A/C states an opinion WITHOUT that caveat and thus may indeed possess deep knowledge. That is for any given value of Anonymous Coward, of course, for he/she/it are many :)

  4. Novex

    Shadow IT

    I was doing that at the desktop many years ago with Excel/Access, when the users wanted to get something done without it being costed as a multi-million dollar project because their IT departments couldn't think in terms of smaller scale solutions. Shadow IT in the form of cloud doesn't therefore surprise me at all. What does surprise me is that any IT system allows users to get through to such public cloud environments.

  5. John 104

    Also Confused

    Perhaps a definition of "Cloud" might be useful? What is it? Is it just compute power hosted someplace else? Is it software provided by someone not on premises? If it is either of these things, then businesses have been providing "private cloud" services to companies for decades. If it is something else, then I'd like to know.

    When I started in IT we used a drawing of a cloud to represent networking outside of our boundary firewall. Internet, direct connect to service provider, etc. Somehow this evolved into marketing bull shit terminology to represent services.

    In the end, it is robbing Peter to pay Paul. Cloud infra is no less of an expense than on prem. From an administrative standpoint all that is eliminated is patch management. From a cost standpoint, if you are hosting large amounts of servers, you can save on rack rent or power costs. If you are a smaller shop, the savings won't be there. The rest still requires hands on or scripted configuration. Either of which cost money in engineers to develop or maintain.

    We recently went to O365 to "save on costs of infra and allow our team to work on other projects". This was in October. We are only just now freeing up time to work on our normal work load due to the cock up that is O365 and all the crap that doesn't work as expected. New projects? Not likely to get more room for these due to the "unexpected" overhead of managing Exchange. Still. We shifted the location, not the work.

    While there is value in off prem hosting and services, I expect that the pendulum will swing back the other way in the next 5-10 years as companies realize that they still need or require on premises services and expertise (have you TRIED working with MS on service issues?). That should take me close to retirement. Then I can get a fun job like cabinet making or some other work that doesn't require me to work with idiot executives who fall for each others BS over an over again.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Also Confused

      That's precisely the point of buzzwords - they're supposed to be nebulous. As soon as time and use pins them down to actually meaning something the snake oil pedlars just slither off to invent a fresh one.

      Watch some cosmetics ads for further information. ;)

      1. Down not across

        Re: Also Confused

        That's precisely the point of buzzwords - they're supposed to be nebulous. As soon as time and use pins them down to actually meaning something the snake oil pedlars just slither off to invent a fresh one.

        What, like hyperconverged?

        (initially I missed out the 'r' ...which actually would've been quite appropriate)

    2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: Also Confused

      From an outside perception, buzzwords are averse definition - otherways they wouldn't be buzzwords. Once the term is actually clearly and coherently defined it ceases to be a buzzword.

      From an inside perception, definition is so easy that it isn't really needed at all - it's whatever the vendor and it's marketeers want to sell to you.

    3. Long John Brass

      Re: Also Confused

      > Perhaps a definition of "Cloud" might be useful?

      Cloud = someone else's computer

      1. phuzz Silver badge

        Re: Also Confused

        >> Perhaps a definition of "Cloud" might be useful?

        > Cloud = someone else's computer

        So what's a private cloud then? Someone else's computer that you own?

        1. Long John Brass

          Re: Also Confused

          > So what's a private cloud then? Someone else's computer that you own?

          Yes, exactly

    4. GrumpyOldMan

      Re: Also Confused

      Ha - when I started in IT a Cloud was a white fluffy thing floating in the sky. And the dinosuar XT-Rex roamed the land.....

      I also had a prehistoric Apple ][.

  6. Erik4872

    It's relabelling but with a twist

    Think of all the work required to get an older enterprisey three-tier application up and running in a big company on physical infrastructure:

    - Architecture and design phase, all following billions of pages of "best practice" bought from some consulting firm (weeks)

    - Hardware specification and procurement (often takes weeks/months)

    - Data center planning (usually a couple weeks to secure a few U of rack space)

    - Network planning (switches, switchports, VLAN assignments, IP address assignments, firewalls)

    - Storage planning (LUNs required, backup strategy, fibre channel cards and zoning if you're real oldschool)

    - DBA planning (sizing, backups, selection of software)

    - OS and software licensing and procurement

    - Hardware reception, rack and stack

    - Network team configurations

    - Storage configurations

    - Bickering back and forth between network, storage, DBA and infrastructure teams during integration

    - OS install

    - DBA wizardry

    - And finally, the enterprisey app install

    The difference between this and virtualization is the ability to cut out the procurement phase assuming capacity exists. This is the VMWare virtual infrastructure phase, making server deployments less painful.

    The next leap for older-school enterprises is rebuilding their apps to be more cloudy, using web services and the like. This is going to be the bigger leap that makes it easier to decouple from some of the siloed IT departments. Of course, the complexity doesn't go away, but it does get abstracted.

    1. s. pam Silver badge

      Re: It's relabelling but with a twist

      Erik one cannot for a second presume Enterprises have the wherewithal to do this as they either won't have the source code, or the talent pool to do so.

      This is where the larger vendors are salivating and wetting themselves -- you really have to dump your current Apps and move to theirs to gain anything.

      Otherwise a "Cloud" is nothing more than Marketing Bullshit and better known as a Remote Data Centre...

  7. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained :-)

    How can all of this be if enterprises are also rife with "shadow IT"; the adoption of public cloud services undertaken by various departments specifically to avoid dealing with internal corporate IT? If both are occurring at the same time, why? ..... Trevor Potts

    The one is BetaTesting New Pioneering Privateer Programming for the other, methinks, TP.

    And more than a little something different for the Register to Register with the Federal Register, Trevor?

    Who Dares Win Wins.

  8. Cloud, what..... Sorry... Um... - you just made that up.

    Really good article

    Nice to see something that isnt just kissing upto vendors.

    I agree that most of the products on the market that promise private cloud are pretty awful and Azure Stack seems to have lots of potential, well anything that could kill off scvmm in the long run is good!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Really good article

      I agree that most of the products on the market that promise private cloud are pretty awful and Azure Stack seems to have lots of potential, well anything that could kill off scvmm in the long run is good!

      For now, I get the impression that Azure's main problem is that it is Microsoft's, and thus inherits the companies trust settings, which in some camps has descended into negative values.

  9. Fungus Bob

    "Are internal IT departments simply incompetent? Are they not delivering the workloads corporate customers are demanding, or not delivering it quickly enough?"

    I think most corporate IT systems, policies, procedures, etc. are set up in such a way as to minimize the pain of the people in the IT department. Can't say that I blame them given some of the stupid users they have to put up with, but it does get in the way of getting work done once in a while.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Good point that fungus.

  10. tonster76

    Shadow IT and Private cloud in parallel

    The article questions how it can be possible that the enterprise is focussed on building a private cloud, while the staff are also known to be performing shadow IT and procuring their own public services.

    I'd say the focus on private 'cloud' is a result of the users demands... and it's a catchup.... the organisations are probably using different methods to block information leakage and use of public services through their network and internet links.

    So yes.... both are absolutely happening in parallel

  11. Captain DaFt

    Enough double-speak!

    "thought influencers"

    Why is that word a thing? There's so many, much more appropriate ones:

    Huckster, snake oil salesman, side show barker...

    if you're being polite, just call them salesmen, but ask yourselves, "Why the fuck am I paying this guy to sell me shit?"

    1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

      Re: Enough double-speak! The bigger question is ... Can you handle Truths?

      if you're being polite, just call them salesmen, but ask yourselves, "Why the fuck am I paying this guy to sell me shit?" .... Captain DaFt

      Because, Captain DaFt, whenever you are real fortunate and/or smarter enabled to see much bigger pictures, is some shit a fantastic high which just keeps on giving?

      Where's the double-speak in the following bold sales pitch ....... My name is xxxxxx. I can be reached at yyyyyy. My website address is zzzzzz. I want to work with Playground to build a:

      Virtual Reality Presentation Machine for Future Beta Tested Programming of Advanced Public Projects. And not so much the building of such, much more the enlightened hosting of the same. :-) Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained is AIPain.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I guess since you don't speak English and you are writing for a living, you should soon be broke. I can't take this article seriously when I read that. Isn't "sometime" a real word? I am not a native English speaker so I could be wrong.

    It's very easy to understand what is going on. However, you have to understand a few things:

    1. Companies (should) make money.

    2. Specialization.

    Because specialized software will have more butt wipes than generic software and will also have more sales wolves, sheeple are bound to follow the sales wolf.

    Anyway, it doesn't take a large amount of analysis to understand that the portable music player will sell better than the PDA that can also play music because most people don't enjoy thinking. Most people enjoy feeling.

    Computing devices have become mainstream, and while engineers and hackers might be annoyed by that, it does us no good to prolong the inevitable. Idiots will take over because they are good at leading other idiots. So the quicker the techopolypse ensues, the better off humans will be because the idiots will generally be eliminated.

    Oh, wait a moment, I sound a bit cynical. Were we talking about rain?

    1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

      Re: some-when???

      I guess since you don't speak English and you are writing for a living, you should soon be broke. I can't take this article seriously when I read that. Isn't "sometime" a real word? I am not a native English speaker so I could be wrong.

      You're wrong. Also more than a little constrained of thought. English is spoken by over half a billion people with almost 340 million confirmed native speakers around the world. There are dozens (if not hundreds) of dialects. The language has evolved and is evolving in multiple different directions simultaneously in different parts of the world.

      "Somewhen" is a perfectly legitimate adverb. One that was in popular usage predominantly in the 19th century, but which persisted in isolated pockets (especially Western Canada, where I am from) until modern times. It has recently seen something of a modern revival, thanks to the internet and the admixture of dialects and cultures it has enabled.

      The usage of "somewhen" has evolved since the 19th century. In the 19th century "somewhen" would be used very much interchangeably with how most cultures use "sometime" today. In Western Canada (and a couple other places, such as New Zeland) where "somewhen" has persisted, its usage has actually become different from "sometime".

      To wit: "sometime" is typically used when there is a general idea of when "sometime" might be. E.g. "Sometime before supper". The exact details of the time are a little fuzzy, but it is possible to give reasonably actionable timeframes if pressed.

      "Somewhen" is used when the target time is more fuzzy. For example: "I'll get around to finishing painting that wall somewhen; I just don't know when I can get away long enough to do so."

      So there you go, you have learned something. And I, for one, am glad to use words you don't know.


    It's all about API's

    I think the author of this post is "bang-on", including his comments regarding OpenStack, and I run a company that monetizes OpenStack. There seem's to be some discussion with respect to cloud and what it is, why we need it, and is it really worth the effort ? I believe there is a need for an on-premise "AWS" like cloud. Yes, self-service is important, likewise with elasticity and many of the other features referred to in the comments but what makes AWS so appealing is their API's - while Microsoft and VMware have fallen very short here. OpenStack has created an abstraction layer that addresses the entire datacenter via API's. Yes, some of you will argue that VMware has API's and they do, but those API's are for front-end access for the purposes of automation, aka DevOps. OpenStack's API's are front-end and Back-end. With OpenStack, an enterprise storage array can speak to the Block API (Cinder) and front-end DevOps can automate the provisioning of storage, snapshots even replication. If you replace that storage array with another Cinder supported array, none of the DevOps front end scripts need change, because we are issuing Cinder commands not array specific commands. With Microsoft & VMware those scripts would require modification, in some cases very little, but still modifications. This same abstraction applies to Network and Compute. It's all about the API's. Assholes & Opinions, everyone has one, this is mine.

  14. Down not across


    Are internal IT departments simply incompetent?

    I think you often find the issue is bit higher up.

  15. JohnMcL

    private clouds better

    Your PHB has read somewhere that clouds are the thing so if you don't call them clouds he probably won't know what you're talking about.

    Are private clouds good? You bet ... unless of course you prefer you prfer to put your major data assets in someone else's hands and trust that (a) your data is safe from disaster and "leakage" and (b) when the excreta hits the ventilation equipment that the service provider agrees that your high priority is also his high priority. For most companies IT is their lifeblood; it involves every aspect of the organization and therefore how the company makes its income. Willing to cede control to someone else somewhere else? You'd have to be crazy.

  16. boatsman

    trevor needs a vacation. a long one. because......

    he has a ton of reading and surfing to do. and maybe even trying out stuff, just to make sure it does what it promises.

    e.g, openstack has had working installers from several sources for 2 or more years now.


    ansible and chef runbooks / recipees

    Fuel, a tool, originating from Mirantis

    Redhat and Suse openstack implementations. ( guaranteed to work .... etc ..... )

    all of them 100% OSS and guaranteed to work within the same afternoon.

    since Kilo you can upgrade openstack, too, and some of the above even support it.

  17. zootle

    No mention of Joyent?

    No mention of Joyent and SmartDataCenter?

    Shame, one of the easiest to manage and cost effective private/public cloud offerings.

  18. CliveFoster

    Great Post.

    HP has canned Helion which is sort of ironic as you almost gave it a thumbs up !

  19. Doogie Howser MD

    Good work, though I'm curious

    Decent article there, Trev. My curiosity was piqued however by the following comment:-

    "If you ask about things like self-service or API-driven workload management they'll lose their minds all over social media"

    If I didn't know better, I'd say it sounds like a company that may or may not rhyme with Buttflanix.


    Great article, Trevor.

  21. Mick Russom

    here is another problem:

    Networking abstraction and service insertion is an AFTERTHOUGHT. Hairpins everywhere on networking, true networking abstraction not possible and even with an SDN helping its plugins for kubernetes, openshift, docker, CNI/CNM, vpshere<>esx<>kvm is complex, openstack and SDN integration is tough- most SDNs are not in-box or batteries included with openstack .

    So we have bad SDN integration. Bad integration with cloud native/containers. We have issues with having containers and VMs and physical machines talking to each other without twisted issues.

    distributed firewalls, POD level network isolation, LBAAS/loadbalancing and DF/firewall , etc, simply integrating checkpoint/PA/NSX-DFW/fortinet is a HUGE pain, and then A10/F5 on that, pain.

    Private cloud is so bad and now the word has started to move onto cloud native, managed services, SAAS, etc. Nobody wants to pay attention to all this trash wiring anymore.

    REWRITE YOUR APPLICATIONS because trying to do things the old way on private cloud __STINKS__. Until then avoid any complexity and changes - go all in - containers and lambdas and the like. Avoid marrying private cloud anything and make sure your public cloud strategy works across clouds when possible. (Avoid too much managed service abuse at Amazon which causes lock-in ).

    Its a brave new world and private cloud is lost. Its horrible.

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