Who gets to decide if you have a private Cloud or not?

CloudAn interesting debate came up in the comment section in an article on Network World discussing Forester research stating that 70% of the environments labeled as private Cloud isn’t Cloud at all but just virtualization.  As I have, the Forester Research used the NIST definition of Cloud Computing which dictates that a Cloud environment needs the following attributes.

1. Elasticity

2. Pooled resource

3. Self Service

4. Broad Network Access

5. Measured usage

The two sticking points for most environments has been Elasticity and Self Service.  Most virtualized environments nail items 2, 4 and 5.  But self service and elasticity are difficult solutions to provide not just technically but from a workflow perspective as well.  Its been common for me to walk into environments claiming to be private Clouds to find these two missing attributes.  Some of the comments were around NIST not being the proper body to define Cloud Computing even though their general definition has been accepted by most of the industry.  I find the NIST definition to be a valid and reasonable definition for Cloud.

But since there is no central governing body for Cloud Computing standards there seems to be some leave way for interpretation for what environments are Cloud and are not Cloud.  I’ve consistently been irked by Microsoft calling a hyper-v install a “Cloud” data center (see Microsoft’s definition here).  But the comments brought up a valid point.  Who get’s to determine if your environment is a Cloud environment or not?

I’ve decided that it’s the business requirements that determine if an environment is a Cloud or not.  It doesn’t matter if it’s virtualized and if it has any of the NIST defined attributes or not.  This isn’t an engineering test to determine if a airplane is flight worthy.  This is a service delivery model that IT organizations provide to the end user to help meet the organization’s mission.

If the organization is happy with the “Cloud” that the IT organization is providing, what research firm, consulting services company or blogger has the  basis to refute the claim?  I’m an admitted technical snob.  I like being able to define solutions based on an established standard but this is a case where it may not be worth the argument.  If a business is as efficient as it can be with it’s Mainframe based “Cloud” and I come and rip it out and replace it with a NIST defined solution that doesn’t provide any additional value but checks all the boxes for Cloud what value have I added in the end?

My conclusion hurts my ego a bit but I’ll survive.  What do you think?  Should there be a technical hurdle for what is and is not Cloud and who gets to decide?

Published by Keith Townsend

Now I'm @CTOAdvisor

8 thoughts on “Who gets to decide if you have a private Cloud or not?

  1. I spoke to a journalist about this recently. I was passionate that cloudwashing is wrong, and the premise of my argument is twofold: (1) it’s misleading and unethical to call a managed service a *cloud* when the majority of IT professionals agree NIST is the best definition we have now, and when a managed service fails those test (2) it intends to steal the good qualities associated with cloud to dress-up a not-cloud, which abuses the power imbalance between IT professionals and some decision-makers.


    1. I’m hoping that the old adage of “the truth will out” will guide the current scenario of just what private and hybrid cloud is. It’s not just marketing fluff for a colocation facility. It’s not just putting some of your stuff on AWS and laying some pipe between that stuff and your data center. I sincerely hope that organizations do the hard work of true evaluation, thinking, and questioning before they just hand over the keys blindly to someone who says: “Yep, it’s complicated! Don’t worrry about it, I’ve got you covered. Sign here.”

      1. I think that’s where all the true value in Cloud lays. It’s that hard work of re-engineering the way you deliver and maybe even consume IT services. It’s not magic at all.

    2. Giri, I fall more in-line with you normally. I think the distinction is important so that customers know what they are buying. If IT is synonymous with Automobile then Cloud is synonymous with a “Car” vs a van or a truck. It’s an important designation.

  2. The thing is, it causes even more confusion for those that aren’t “in the know”. Plenty of people still think that the cloud is actually in a cloud, seriously.

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