back to article Does a cloud have to be public, or can it be private?

Is "private cloud" an oxymoron? Or just plain moron? The top brass at Amazon Web Services have been very clear since the launch of the e-tailers public cloud in 2006 that they do not believe in private clouds running in corporate data centers, and that to be a cloud, by definition, means being a shared public utility and not …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Amazon, Publicly Private.

    Considering Amazon is a Private company, what does that say about their "Public" cloud....anyways.

    Well, I don't think it is a matter of *if*, but when. The design of a public "cloud" is great, until dark clouds roll in. But a private "cloud", well that is much more controllable and not to mention, private. Amazon and the similar minded can go on and on about the public cloud, but when the day comes when we all have gigabit (yeh, someday right?), who needs it, or even wants it?

    I still wonder if the "cloud" is actually something at all new, or just a buzzword to fire up economic spending on something that has been implemented many times before. The kind of buzzword to push for spending and market dominance of whatever company pushing it. As far as I can tell, the buzzword "cloud" is the only thing new about the concept, but sadly we all still know the word that holds the keys to the gate...."bandwidth".

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    4.6 hours for heavy users




    If you are moronic enough to believe that public cloud is "enterprise ready" and you use it to host critical and core systems, then you get what you deserve.. which hopefully leads to a first class ticket to the doll office!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 4.6 hours for heavy users

      I was at AWS in Berlin last week.

      Amazon made a compelling argument that it is completely plausible to hand over the data centre operations to them, and concentrate on doing business (whatever that might be) rather then being data centre operators.

      In what way do you think that Amazon is not "Enterprise Ready"? I really want to know because my boss has drunk this particular Amazon kool-aid and if there are issues with Amazon's ability to serve enterprises reliably and seamlessly, then I would love to hear them.

      1. K

        Re: 4.6 hours for heavy users

        There are whole threads on this subject, you'll hear arguments for and against.

        Personally, I looked into EC2, Rackspace and IBM last year when I was planning our company infrastructure refresh. I ran a 2 month test on each, running dozens of virtual machines with our required spec (CPU, RAM and Disk) and simulating our systems. By the end of it, I concluded

        1) When fixed resource requirements that must run 24/7, Cloud it is not as cost effective as they make out (In fact, it worked out slightly more expensive than by our own Servers, Storage, VMWare licences and hosting it in a Colo)

        2) Support is very ad-hoc and usually requires problems to be emailed in (With the exception of rackspace). Unless your willing to pay thousands extra each month, just for the privilege of being to call a support line.

        So between the cost and support, I decided to go with purchasing our own infrastructure. In my eyes, That is not to say Cloud is bad, But I think it is over-hyped and missold. I see Cloud having 2 primary customers -

        1) Startups or SME's who have no capital, as they don't need to invest in their own infrastructure

        2) Businesses who need varying capacity on adhoc basis, as it means they don't have under utilised kit

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: 4.6 hours for heavy users

          Aside from those 2 cases where it makes sense, I believe there is a 3rd.

          I work in a large company where the primary focus is not IT. In fact, over the years the staff in IT have been reduced to the point that it now becomes neigh on impossible to get anything done through the official channels.

          If, after many months of battling, you manage to get a VM for a worthwhile business service, you find it turned off without warning, impossible to get working backups, or suffer a 2-3 week turn around to get later versions of software applied even while money is being lost and customers made to wait for orders to be filled.

          I once had the ordeal of waiting 3 months and burning easily 100 man hours in meetings to try and authorize a £50 spend through more official channels.

          Against this backdrop, a reserved instance running 24/7 does actually make sense. We can administer it and keep it running smoothly and simply pay for it out of a departmental budget.

          I totally accept that its not the most efficient arrangement, but given the realities EC2 and friends are the least worst option. I can't be the only one to find myself in this situation.

          1. K

            Re: 4.6 hours for heavy users

            @AC Yep absolutely. I feel for you, it shows that the management don't truly understand the implications. IT is getting more business critical (rather than less) so cutting here is only damaging.

    2. mhoneywell

      Re: 4.6 hours for heavy users

      Comments like this are fine if you explain your creds for making them. Otherwise they're just noise.

    3. Charles Manning

      Seriously bad logic

      What you're basically saying is that you think Joe and Jane Enterprise can do a better job of sys admin than Google, Amazon and other cloud providers.

      That might be true for very few companies, but for most companies that is not the case. The average small company (or even medium size for that matter) just lacks the dedication and IT expertise to run effective back ups, run redundant servers, etc. For most companies, the cloud providers do it way better.

      Many companies that I know still use cloud providers even though they have the skills. Why? It is a way better use of their time to deal with customers and generate revenue than it is to piss around with IT.

  3. Sean Kennedy

    What is the definition of a "Cloud"

    Does anyone know what a "Cloud" really represents? I know sales drones and managers love to throw the term around, each believing it to mean whatever is more advantageous to their own interests ( which is a hoot in meetings, let me tell you ), but neither really understands what it means. Sadly, nor do most IT folks. So sit right back and prepare to receive some serious knowledge;

    A Cloud is nothing more than a S.E.P., from HHGG, almost literally. When you contract for cloud services, what you are really do is making the infrastructure "Somebody Else's Problem".

    Amazon offers SEP services for companies, but it's equally possible to turn IT into a service oriented service, where other divisions of the business buy infrastructure services. Ergo, it is entirely possible to have a "private cloud" service.

    ( It's possibly worth noting that I have a rational need to do violence to people who use the word "Cloud" seriously. )

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: What is the definition of a "Cloud"

      Market droids are morons. We know this.

    2. Velv

      Re: What is the definition of a "Cloud"

      SEP. Works perfectly. In theory.

      Further, it shows exactly why a certain portion of the population (sales drones and managers) ended up on the Golgafrinchan B Ark.

      When that cloud bursts, whose arse is the boss going to kick?

      Now ask yourself - if you were responsible for your Enterprise IT, would you go with the people on the B Ark?

    3. BartVDE

      Re: What is the definition of a "Cloud"

      Cloud is the new name we like to give to Hosting.

      We have been using the cloud platform for years, only we called it housing, colocation, hosting and whatnot.

      with the emergence of virtualization, the hosting solutions moved from providing bare metal servers and storage into providing virtual platforms, easily divided into rentable chunks of capacity.

      The big differentiator between cloud and regular hosting, is the automation layer that is added to the platform.

      the cloud allows its users to deploy virtual machines in an automated way, the automation layer takes care of all the tricky parts of the deployment. It creates virtual networks, manages the underlying storage, creates and generates virtual machines and deploys applications. All the cloud user really needs to do, is own and configure/manage the application he wants to deploy in the cloud.

      Public clouds give you the least amount of control over the environment you pay for.

      private clouds allow for a lot more customization of the platform in terms of performance and capacity.

      Enterprise customers will never move critical servers into the public cloud space, for several reasons... no guarantees of performance, limited security features, no SLA on uptime, no guarantees on bandwith,... the public cloud will alwyas have a limited range of uses. for anything else, there is the private or hybrid formula. which is essentially the same, apart for location and customizability.

  4. Nate Amsden Silver badge

    of course they believe that

    Until amazon offers features that rival that of a private cloud things and eliminate the whole "built to fail" model. On top of that provide usage based billing (pay for what you use not for what you provision -- S3 has this model already). As well as pooling of resources (give me a dozen CPU sockets and half a TB of memory and let me provision however I want -- e.g. no more fixed instance sizes).

    Well they can keep the built to fail model for customers that wish to use it.

    Until they do those simple things (and a few others too) they have no leg to stand on as far as the argument public vs private cloud.

    fix the cost structure too. Most everyone who has used Amazon (and other cloud players) understand what a joke the pricing structure is across the board, largely due to extremely poor utilization of the system.

    conceptually it is quite simple - I think Amazon's archaic design prevents them from doing this and it's easier for them to argue the exact opposite than fix their shit. Their model works fine in very limited use cases, but falls apart quickly for I'd wager 90%+ of workloads out there. That doesn't stop people from trying though. Throw enough money at it and you can make it hobble along. But then your not saving $$ at that point.

    1. Philip Lewis

      Re: of course they believe that

      "I think Amazon's archaic design prevents them from doing this and it's easier for them to argue the exact opposite than fix their shit. "

      Enter Flexiant.

      These people think they are going to change the game and together with Telcos, ISPs and whatever seriously dent Amazon's "top of the heap" cloud position.

      The quote above might be now put to the test

  5. localzuk Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Not gonna happen

    A huge number of businesses will never move to a public cloud. They simply can't do it due to their legal responsibilities towards the data they have on their servers.

    Comparing to utilities is all well and good, but all you do as a customer of the power company is pay them for power. That's it. With a public cloud, you pay for the service, and then export all your most valuable data to an external location... So, you're giving the company the keys to your Ferrari when you do so.

    Yes, running your own data center is expensive, but it has massive advantages over giving some faceless company your dirty laundry...

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A huge number of companies will never move to a cloud due to the financial model. Rackspace, Amazon and every other public cloud/Virtual Data Centre provider will espouse the benefits of public cloud but the challenge for many organizations, my own included, is that paying for IT capacity 'on demand' is OPEX.

    OPEX is great for large multinationals. Corporates have been taking advantage of the shared IT services opex model for years and use transfer pricing as a means to limit corporation tax liabilities in high tax jurisdictions. When you also take into account the typically long lead times to procure and provision equipment and the ironic situation in many big organisations that the cost of their shared services is so high as to be a barrier, using an external provider starts to sound appealing.

    However, for people like me in a SME with owners keen to sell up and move on, EBITDA is very much the name of the game, so we need to capex our IT. Some of us manage to win over the different business units and get them to agree to pool IT investment so as to facilitate the development of a unified, highly automated environment that serves multiple customers.

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