An IDC survey highlights the reasons why private clouds will mature before public, leading to the eventual consistency of public and private cloud computing frameworks

Network Computing recently reported on a very interesting research survey from analyst firm IDC. This one was interesting because it delved into concerns regarding public cloud computing in a way that most research surveys haven’t done, including asking respondents to weight their concerns as it relates to application delivery from a public cloud computing environment. The results? Security, as always, tops the list. But close behind are application delivery related concerns such as availability and performance.

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While growing numbers of businesses understand the advantages of embracing cloud computing, they are more concerned about the risks involved, as a survey released at a cloud conference in Silicon Valley shows. Respondents showed greater concern about the risks associated with cloud computing surrounding security, availability and performance than support for the pluses of flexibility, scalability and lower cost, according to a survey conducted by the research firm IDC and presented at the Cloud Leadership Forum IDC hosted earlier this week in Santa Clara, Calif.

“However, respondents gave more weight to their worries about cloud computing: 87 percent cited security concerns, 83.5 percent availability, 83 percent performance and 80 percent cited a lack of interoperability standards.” 

The respondents rated the risks associated with security, availability, and performance higher than the always-associated benefits of public cloud computing of lower costs, scalability, and flexibility. Which ultimately results in a reluctance to adopt public cloud computing and is likely driving these organizations toward private cloud computing because public cloud can’t or won’t at this point address these challenges, but private cloud computing can and is – by architecting a collection of infrastructure services that can be leveraged by (internal) customers on an application by application (and sometimes request by request) basis.


What will ultimately bubble up and become more obvious to public cloud providers is customer demand. Clouderati twitterbird like James Urquhart twitterbird and Simon Wardley twitterbird often refer to this process as commoditization or standardization of services. These services – at the infrastructure layer of the cloud stack – will necessarily be driven by customer demand; by the market. Because customers right now are not fully exercising public cloud computing as they would their own private implementation – replete with infrastructure services, business critical applications, and adherence to business-focused service level agreements – public cloud providers are a bit of a disadvantage. The market isn’t telling them what they want and need, thus public cloud providers are left dynamic-infrastructure-maturity-modelto fend for themselves. Or they may be pandering necessarily to the needs and demands of a few customers that have fully adopted their platform as their data center du jour.

Internal to the organization there is a great deal more going on than some would like to admit. Organizations have long since abandoned even the pretense of caring about the definition of “cloud” and whether or not there exists such a thing as “private” cloud and have forged their way forward past “virtualization plus” (a derogatory and dismissive term often used to describe such efforts by some public cloud providers) and into the latter stages of the cloud computing maturity model.

Internal IT organizations can and will solve the “infrastructure as a service” conundrum because they necessarily have a smaller market to address. They have customers, but it is a much smaller and well-defined set of customers which they must support and thus they are able to iterate over the development processes and integration efforts necessary to get there much quicker and without as much disruption. Their goal is to provide IT as a service, offering a repertoire of standardized application and infrastructure services that can easily be extended to support new infrastructure services. 

They are, in effect, building their own cloud frameworks (stack) upon which they can innovate and extend as necessary. And as they do so they are standardizing, whether by conscious effort or as a side-effect of defining their frameworks. But they are doing it, regardless of those who might dismiss their efforts as “not real cloud.” When you get down to it, enterprise IT isn’t driven by adherence to some definition put forth by pundits. They’re driven by a need to provide business value to their customers at the best possible “profit margin” they can. And they’re doing it faster than public cloud providers because they can.


What that means is that in a relatively short amount of time, as measured by technological imageevolution at least, the “private clouds” of customers will have matured to the point they will be ready to adopt a private/public (hybrid) model and really take advantage of that public, cheap, compute on demand that’s so prevalent in today’s cloud computing market. Not just use them as inexpensive development or test playgrounds but integrate them as part of their global application delivery strategy. The problem then is aligning the models and APIs and frameworks that have grown up in each of the two types of clouds.

Like the concept of “eventual consistency” with regards to data and databases and replication across clouds (intercloud) the same “eventual consistency” theory will apply to cloud frameworks. Eventually there will be a standardized (consistent) set of infrastructure services and network services and frameworks through which such services are leveraged. Oh, at first there will be chaos and screaming and gnashing of teeth as the models bump heads, but as more organizations and providers work together to find that common ground between them they’ll find that just like the peanut-butter and chocolate in a Reese’s Peanut Butter cup, the two disparate architectures can “taste better together.”

The question that remains is which standardization will be the one with which others must become consistent. Without consistency, interoperability and portability will remain little more than a pipe dream. Will it be standardization driven by the customers, a la the Enterprise Buyer’s Cloud Council? Or will it be driven by providers in a “if you don’t like what we offer go elsewhere” market? Or will it be driven by a standards committee comprised primarily of vendors with a few “interested third parties”? 

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