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March 30, 2010


Jon Collins

Nice post. Your explanation is coherent and sound. But "private cloud" is still a crap term, no hiding from that (and we've researched this enough with real people to know).

My guess is that it will go out of vogue within the next couple of years, to be replaced by something more appropriate and less overloaded. If I knew what that was, I'd buy the domain ;)

Chuck Hollis

Hi Jon

In our industry, there are people who make things (vendors), buy things (customers) and people who make it their job to offer up their opinion on what the other two groups are doing.

Like you, for example.

I'd be interested in comparing your research alongside my hundreds of 1x1 engagements with senior IT and business leaders.

If we're talking to the same people, we should be hearing the same thing.

But, let's face it, all terms come and go in our industry -- nothing is forever. For example, when's the last time you remember someone formally using the term "The Internet"?

It's been wildly successful -- so successful, in fact, that it's part of our everyday fabric. Most of us have stopped thinking of it as a new or novel concept.

And I'm betting the term "private cloud" evolves along the same lines.

-- Chuck

Jon Collins

Ouch, referee! To be fair I've spent over half of my career being someone that buys things (e.g. IT manager etc), and now I spend most of my time asking questions of the same group. I'm not a fan of opinion, as it tends to be wrong unless tested.

Where we wholeheartedly agree is that the hybrid model will pervade, but do note this is not a view that is shared by all of your competitors (but they do speak with equal confidence, and no doubt they speak to lots of very important people as well). My dubiousness around "private cloud" is not least based on the fact that elsewhere, it is treated as synonymous with "internal cloud". Indeed, I just Googled it to that effect. The terminology at the moment is messed up, that's a fact, which is a shame as its getting in the way of progress.

Rackspace has a picture here which shows private cloud as being more about where the firewall sits, for example. And I bet the Rackspace guys also have plenty of 1:1 conversations. I could have picked others.


Incidentally, I confess to have watched with interest an animated debate between a large vendor and an analyst from "one of the big firms", in which both felt they had the ear of the customer. In my opinion (ahem) I put this down to the self selection factor, which is something we have to be very careful about. "The people I talk to" is very unlikely to be a balanced sample, and it will be skewed even more by the conversation and the person involved - a symptom of Heisenberg's uncertainty principle perhaps.

Chuck Hollis

Hi Jon - great convo, I just have to show my sharp teeth once in a while to up-level the conversation, which we've done here quite well.

You're right on the messy taxonomy at present. As a result, I always am very careful to define the terms as I (and our ecosystem partners) are using them. I would offer that when we all agree, it'll be a very boring topic.

You're also right about many vendors appearing to have the courage of their convictions, at least on the surface.

However, a deeper dive will reveal serious strategic conflicts, an inconsistent investment pattern, and other "red flags" that might cause you to perceive their convictions differently.

I find this strategic chessboard to be engine behind what you hear different vendors saying, and -- more importantly -- why they're saying what they are saying.

You're absolutely right about the self-selection phenomenon. I am incredibly self-aware in this regard. I tend to talk to very serious IT organizations with very serious IT concerns in selected verticals that tend to be both very IT-intensive and usually global in nature.

Is this a proxy for the broader market? Yes and no. A lot of the themes and trends that have found traction in this group first have found their way into other market segments over time.

And a few have not.

We also see what we call the backflow. There is a distinct and large group of IT organizations that are not critical to the overall business strategy, are not particularly investing in being proficient, are not in a typically IT-intensive industry, are local and/or regional players, etc.

These people look at private cloud and see something very different -- a new twist on outsourcing that's very attractive.

Also, there are also a whole bunch of smaller vendors poking around the edges trying to find that quintessential "unmet need" that can feed and grow their business models. I'd put Rackspace in that category. Nothing wrong with what they do, but their positioning is different than, say, a CSC or AT&T.

Great conversation.

-- Chuck

Don Trojan

Jon, based on what I see from mid level companies they tell me that the "Private Clound" includes a DR strategy. With VM becoming mainstream the opportunity to econnomically set in place a DR strategy is on the way to becoming a must have especially for customer or franchise facing applications.


Online Tech

Jon Collins

Hi guys, apologies for the delay but we needed to go away and do a bit of homework... please see the attached for why it is so crucial at the moment to be precise about what is meant by cloud. Please see the below - hope you find it interesting.


Best, Jon

Jon Collins

@Don it probably should, in that corporate IT should build in DR, and that "Private Cloud" (however the term is defined) is one way of delivering corporate IT.

Best, Jon

Chuck Hollis

Hi Jon

Had a chance to read through your research (thanks for that, BTW), and would agree with you -- there is no consistency in terms regarding the use of "cloud".

However, I still think no one has made the case that this lack of a precise definition is a bad thing. Annoying, perhaps.

What was the classic quip from a US Supreme Court Justice? "I can't define pornography, but I know it when I see it".

Thanks for sharing ...

-- Chuck

Jon Collins

That is too funny :)

Best, Jon

Don Trojan

As we approach 2011 we are seeing a major pick-up in both the private cloud and SAS-70. The SAS-70 is interesting since it will be replaced by a new standard. What it does show me is that IT is getting serious about infrastructure.


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Chuck Hollis

  • Chuck Hollis
    SVP, Oracle Converged Infrastructure Systems

    Chuck now works for Oracle, and is now deeply embroiled in IT infrastructure.

    Previously, he was with VMware for 2 years, and EMC for 18 years before that, most of them great.

    He enjoys speaking to customer and industry audiences about a variety of technology topics, and -- of course -- enjoys blogging.

    Chuck lives in Vero Beach, FL with his wife and four dogs when he's not traveling. In his spare time, Chuck is working on his second career as an aging rock musician.

    Warning: do not ever buy him a drink when there is a piano nearby.

    Note: these are my personal views, and aren't reviewed or approved by my employer.
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