The news from Microsoft this week about its private cloud initiative points to an undeniable trend. The concept of the private cloud is here to stay.
This sticks in the craw of many a cloud computing veteran who makes the clear distinction between what is an Internet environment as opposed to an optimized data center.
Amazon CTO Werner Vogels calls the private variety "false clouds." Vogels maintains that you can't add cloud elements to a data center and suddenly have a cloud of your own.
In systems architecture diagrams, servers are represented by boxes and storage by containers. Above it all, the Internet is represented by a cloud. That's how the cloud got its name. Trying to fit the Internet in a data center would be like trying to fit the universe in a small, little house. It's a quantum impossibility.
Our view is more in line with Vogels. In our report on the future of the cloud, Mike Kirkwood wrote that it is the rich platforms that will come to define the cloud. That makes more sense for us as platforms are part of an Internet environment, connected in many ways by open APIs.
But what do you think? Here's our question:
The concept of the private cloud is perceived as real, no surprise, by the players represented in the vast ecosystem that is the enterprise. You can hear their big sticks rattling as they push for private clouds.
Virtualization is important for data center efficiency. it helps customers make a transition to the public cloud.
But it is not the Internet. Private clouds still mean that the enterprise is hosting its own applications. And for a new generation, that can make it feel a bit like a college graduate of 30 years ago walking into an enterprise dominated by mainframes and green screens.
That's not necessarily a bad thing. A private cloud is just not a modern oriented vision. To call it cloud computing is just wrong. It's like saying I am gong to have my own, private Internet.
Still, we expect the term to be here for the long run, especially as the marketing amps up and "cloud in a box" services start popping up across the landscape.
The only thing we can hope is that these private clouds allow for data to flow into public clouds.
It is starting to feel like the concept of the cloud is at the point where the tide can go either way. Will we turn the cloud into an isolated environment or will the concepts of the Internet prevail? Those are big questions that will have defining consequences.