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Home  > The Private Cloud Paradox: Servers Closer to Home Further From ROI?
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The Private Cloud Paradox: Servers Closer to Home Further From ROI?

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet.

For every advantage of the public cloud, there is a private alternative. Want scalable resources? Agility? Expandable storage? Advocates say to invest in a private cloud and retain control of data from end to end; enjoy the benefits of a totally flexible commodity infrastructure while locking down security loopholes. Sounds ideal, but there is a growing private cloud paradox: Adoption is stalling even as this technology is heralded as a game-changer. Is building out servers close to home pushing companies further from ROI?


Virtual Reality

According to Eric Knorr at InfoWorld, what companies want from their private clouds is commodity scale-out infrastructure. In most cases, however, this is not the reality: Businesses are faced with the task of either migrating legacy apps to the cloud or "bending" existing infrastructure to support cloud agility. Both avenues require significant time and effort and can all but negate the bottom-line benefits of a cloud migration.

In addition, Knorr points out that private Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) is used mostly for development and testing rather than the backbone of corporate networks, while private Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) is still in the early stages of development. Some PaaS products have been described as "clunky"; others require companies to run on specific stacks. As a result, it is difficult to predict which vendors will survive and which will fall by the wayside as their technology becomes obsolete. The public cloud, Knorr says, has solved most of the problems that inform the private cloud paradox, although for startups or specific enterprises that need a scale-out network, private may still be ideal. 


Fighting Dirty

A article does not see this as the end of private clouds. The piece discusses the need for environmental stewardship of cloud computing hardware, since much of what is used by servers gets stripped of precious metals once decommissioned and then dumped in landfills. With data centers growing larger — Nevada is the worldwide leader with a 2.2 million-square-foot data campus, which will soon be overtaken by China's new Langfang center, set to be bigger than the Pentagon — the amount of potential waste is skyrocketing. Most public cloud servers run 24/7 and are underutilized, meaning their hardware reaches end-of-lifespan much sooner than it would under ideal conditions.

How do companies solve the clean cloud problem? By considering the role of a hybrid deployment. Starting with a small public cloud presence, midsize businesses can safely build out private infrastructure and migrate essential elements. The private cloud can run at nearly full capacity with a public alternative on hand to spin up extra resources as needed or serve as a rapid-fire testing environment.

For midsize IT professionals, solving the private cloud paradox means following the money. What generates ROI? While a purely private cloud seems ideal on the surface, it can often be costly and complicated to move from one local server set to another, eating into any potential savings. Fully public options, meanwhile, can prove expensive if data is compromised or the service is unavailable. Hybrid clouds may offer a happy — and green — middle ground, with the added benefit of running some local stacks at or close to capacity, in turn minimizing the possibility of wasted resources.

The private cloud is not dead; private-only deployments are simply disappearing. ROI is king, and the cloud middle ground is now proving more lucrative.


This post was written by Doug Bonderud.

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