Don't Step in the FUD: The Real World Demands Private Cloud
A Contributed Article By Bart Copeland, CEO of ActiveState
Last week, SD Times
contributor Alex Handy published an interesting article titled The PaaS market accelerates. The piece was noteworthy not just
for its insight into the burgeoning PaaS market space and introduction to the
major players, but for some bizarrely unfounded assertions made by one of the
article's subjects.Really, Adam?
In his January
6th SD Times article, Handy writes (emphases mine):
Wiggins, CTO of Heroku, said that PaaS is about the public cloud only. Although
he used harsher language to describe the private cloud and PaaS market, he
indicated that he and Heroku believe the private cloud to be entirely
"My opinion--and this is not a widely held opinion--is
that private cloud is total BS. If you make it private it is no longer
cloud. You destroy all the value you get from cloud by making it something you
have to run yourself. Anyone pursuing that path is advocating a false trail,"
(At this point,
the Enterprise IT Leads all do a spit take. I'm just curious to know what the unmentioned
"harsher language" was.)
Really, Adam? "BS"?
"Vapor"? Really? Is that the best you can do for FUD? Your
comments are at best puerile, and at worst naïve. Let's focus on the naïve...Save me, public cloud!
What Heroku's Wiggins is
desperately trying to obscure is that in the real world, the enterprise demands
private cloud and Private PaaS. Fortunately, he is correct in observing
that his is "not a widely held opinion."
Wiggins suggests that
customers derive value from the self-service nature of the public cloud, and
that making the cloud "something that you have to run yourself" defeats its
purpose. Hmm. Do I really want control over my own platform? My data
is probably safe, I mean, it's in the cloud. And do
I really want to deal with all that pesky provisioning and applications
management and infrastructure administration and oh, I'm overwhelmed-Save me,
simple public cloud!
it were that simple. As my colleague ActiveState VP of Engineering Jeff
Hobbs noted in Handy's article, Public PaaS can lift the burden of
cloud-management responsibility, lightening IT load. And public clouds also
deliver benefits like shared-resource efficiencies, utility computing, and
scalability. But let's be honest here: Every Public-PaaS developer promotes
those same supposed advantages, and whee! The race towards
commoditization is on. Indistinguishable public-cloud services foster desperate
competition, which drives down price, which ultimately benefits the consumer...at
least the one looking for the cheap solution.Public PaaS: Slumlord of the cloud's low-rent
In contrast with Private
PaaS, the very nature of the Public PaaS' shared-services model enforces a
lowest-common-denominator architectural approach. You're entering the low-rent
district: You get what you pay for with public cloud ("First month free!"), and
that means the same setup as the tenant sharing your virtual apartment building.
("Matching floor plans!") Does your company have unique data needs? Public PaaS
may impose restrictive limitations on the way you manage your data. ("No pets!")
Prefer a cookie-cutter approach, okay with limiting application portability, and
don't mind sharing a multi-tenant virtual hallway? ("It's just like a hostel!")
Then Public PaaS-at least as Adam Wiggins envisions it-might be right for
you.The real world demands Private PaaS
Recall those Enterprise
IT leads? (I hope they've regained their composure.) They are the ones who are
investing in private cloud and Private PaaS because it provides better security, better control, and-believe it or not, Adam-greater flexibility than
public-cloud alternatives. Oh, and with the right technology, those Enterprise IT Leads can also
realize those public-cloudy benefits like shared-resource efficiencies, utility
computing, scalability, and even multi-tenancy.
But don't take my word
for it. The U.S. Army recently invested a quarter billion dollars in private-cloud
technology. Sure, you could argue that the military has special security needs
that would never be well served by a public cloud. But so do
very-much-not-like-the-military companies such as Federal Express. The
package-delivery logistics giant has leveraged a private-cloud architecture in its newest data
center, and even retrofitted an old data center to match. Even SD Times
contributor Alex Handy noted in a November 2011 blog post that-despite Heroku's contention that
private cloud is just "a myth and snake oil"-he could "entirely understand the
need for an internal private cloud inside the major retailers [on Black Friday
and Cyber Monday]."Thanks Adam!
Don't get me wrong-I
have long admired Heroku's accomplishments (particularly its carefully
cultivated developer community), and Wiggins and team have produced some great
technology. Let's face it, there will always be market segments that can settle
for implementing a public-cloud solution. (Small business and municipal public sector are just two that immediately come to
mind.) But ultimately, Wiggins' comments ignore (and even denigrate) the needs
and priorities of the vast majority of the enterprise cloud market.
But you know what, the
more I think about it, maybe that's not so bad. Who knows? Maybe Wiggins is
right. Not that Heroku and Wiggins need my validation, but it's okay with me if
they want to believe there's no future in private cloud and Private PaaS. Adam,
you and Heroku can go play in your public-cloud-only sandbox. The rest of us
will be just fine over here providing solutions for the real world.
About the Author
As President & CEO of ActiveState Software, Bart
Copeland brings more than twenty years of management, finance, and technology
business experience to his role. With a passion for technologies that help
people lead more productive and enjoyable lives, Bart is currently focused on
ActiveState’s private platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offering, Stackato. With his
vision for PaaS as an enabler to accelerate cloud adoption and value in
enterprises, Bart is actively involved in the strategy, roadmap, business
development and evangelism of Stackato. Bart is also an active angel investor
and serves as a director on a number of other tech companies. He holds an MBA in
Technology Management from the University of Phoenix and a Mechanical
Engineering degree from the University of British Columbia.