Has Any Fortune 1000 Touched the Private Cloud?

What makes cloud computing truly unique from the computing frameworks of the past?  Here are two key characteristics that NIST defines as:

  • On-demand self-service. A consumer can unilaterally provision computing capabilities, such as server time and network storage, as needed automatically without requiring human interaction with each service provider.
  • Measured service. Cloud systems automatically control and optimize resources usage by leveraging a metering capability at some level of abstraction appropriate to the type of service (e.g., storage, processing, bandwidth, and active user accounts).  Resource usage can be monitored, controlled, and reported providing transparency for both the provider and consumer of the utilized service.

Without the characteristics above, I don’t believe that an environment really qualifies as cloud computing.

There are many companies successfully providing public cloud computing platforms, most notably the SaaS players like Salesforce.com.  And there are service providers like Savvis with its Symphony platform and Rackspace and Amazon that can provide a hosted, off premise private cloud.

But what about private clouds within the four walls of a large enterprise? And I’m thinking more of an enterprise of the Fortune 1000 variety.   How many have actually implemented these two key characteristics of on-demand, self service and measured service that makes the cloud truly unique?

Part of the “cloud-fusion” is that many vendors hype cloud computing solutions to enterprises when, in fact, they’re putting cloud lipstick on their product.   That’s not to say that the technology vendors are completely off base but I think they would come across more credible if they positioned their products correctly–and we’d have a more realistic view of cloud adoption in the marketplace.

Technology vendors are overstating things when they suggest they are providing a solution.  I would suggest that, for years now technology providers have been providing the key building blocks for creating a cloud computing environment.   These building blocks have successfully addressed the other three NIST characteristics for cloud computing including:

  1. Broad network access. Capabilities are available over the network and accessed through standard mechanisms that promote use by heterogeneous thin or thick client platforms.
  2. Resource pooling. The provider’s computing resources are pooled to serve multiple consumers using a multi-tenant model, with different physical and virtual resources dynamically assigned and reassigned according to consumer demand.
  3. Rapid elasticity. Capabilities can be rapidly and elastically provisioned, in some cases automatically, to quickly scale out and rapidly released to quickly scale in. To the consumer, the capabilities available for provisioning often appear to be unlimited and can be purchased in any quantity at any time.

Broad network access is ubiquitous.  Resource pooling is a key component of virtualization and is becoming quite common–the multi-tenancy aspect of pooling is not as widespread but is becoming simpler to deploy and more secure with architectures like SMT from Cisco, NetApp and VMware.  And the third, Rapid Elasticity, is becoming more common as the virtualization plateau is overcome in corporate data centers and as the server consolidation movement progresses.   While early in its maturity, orchestration software is becoming more prevalent and provides for elasticity in the infrastructure.

WWT’s own, Joe Onisick, DefinetheCloud.net, has a brief post on the types of Cloud Computing and there’s a great deal of info at the official NIST’s site.

So, while many of the building blocks exist today, how many large enterprises have pulled it all together?   Not just the “easy” elements of cloud computing but all five.   And, if so, “How did they do it?”  Looks like a subject for another post.

Which leads me to the question: “What percentage of the Fortune 1000 do you believe are providing a true private cloud with the NIST-defined On-demand Self-Service and Measured Service?”

Please take my unscientific poll below and feel free to use the ‘Share This’ button to spread the word via email and Twitter.  (I’m counting on WWT’s consulting engineers and technical architects to lead the charge in voting!)

I’ll share the results of the poll in a future post and my thoughts on what it all means.    Thanks for participating!

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5 responses to “Has Any Fortune 1000 Touched the Private Cloud?

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Has Any Fortune 1000 Touched the Private Cloud? | Perspectives on Technology & Business -- Topsy.com

  2. Great post! I think cloud computing will cause bandwidth to become more valuable. As more services go cloudless I think we will start seeing metered bandwidth become more widespread.

  3. Pingback: The World Is Getting Smaller As Our Opportunity Grows Larger | Perspectives on Technology & Business

  4. A recent industry survey with Novell’s fingerprints on it indicates that more enterprise organizations would like to have their own private cloud than wanted to have one a year ago. ( Novell just launched its Novell Cloud Manager for virtualized data centers.) However, I suspect that not many enterprise organizations are equipped to build a private cloud on their own. Experienced cloud architects are likely to be in short supply and then you need the “secret sauce” coding to manage everything as a true cloud or one that would be close to meeting the NIST definition. So into the private cloud fray jumps HP with CloudStart and its cloud-in-a-box P.O.D which is a customized shipping container that can hold 3000 computers or 12,000 disk drives with all of the racking, power and cooling systems ready to be plugged into your data center. The HP P.O.D. price tag is $1.4M and up. IBM, which probably hasn’t seen an opportunity as big as private clouds since the heyday of the IBM mainframe, is promoting its CloudBurst, which is a modularized system of computers and storage plus the “secret sauce” to make it work like a cloud. Cloudburst starts at about $200K per module. So I’d say you can get a private cloud…for a price, and it could actually be a lot less than trying to build one yourself. The question is how much success will the private cloud market enjoy as the economy continues to decline? The option to use a private virtual cloud at Amazon or Rackspace might start to look pretty good in comparison and cost a lot less up front.

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