Reconciling Private Cloud with the Accelerating Adoption of AWS

By Colby Dyess | February 20, 2014

What's the current state of the private cloud? More organizations have been investing in on-premises solutions secured by the corporate firewall, but in some cases these deployments are not much more than glorified virtualization projects.

Accordingly, there has been some confusion about actual uptake of private infrastructure. While some analysts have pointed to increased adoption of private clouds, others have taken a longer view and noted lowering security concerns about the public cloud, potentially leading to increased adoption of hybrid infrastructure.

How the Private Cloud is Doing with IT Operations and Developers

Forrester Research recently released a study finding that private cloud deployments outpaced their public counterparts - 30 percent went for private, 19 percent for hosted private and 10 percent for public. If valid, these figures would make the rise of private infrastructure as big of a story as Amazon Web Services' ongoing dominance of the public cloud.

However, these numbers don't square with the reality on the ground. According to ReadWrite's Matt Asay, VMware vCloud Director has about 100 deployments worldwide, with only slightly better totals for CloudStack and OpenStack. To its credit, Forrester analysts noted the possibility of cloudwashing - the phenomenon of labeling lightly reconfigured legacy systems as "cloud" - distorting the numbers.

"In 2013, Forrester saw an increase in the number of private clouds meeting each core requirement. What may appear to be decreased adoption is actually decreased cloudwashing across many of the core characteristics and an increasing maturity in the North American market," stated Forrester analyst Lauren Nelson. "This is a step forward, but cloudwashing will continue for quite some time, with 92 percent of private clouds still falling short of the core requirements."

Cloudwashing has serious consequences for organizations. It can blind them to the real value of the cloud and to rising developer interest in AWS instead of VMware. Gartner's Lydia Leong explained that developers were reshaping the infrastructure-as-a-service market, spurring companies to increasingly view AWS as a strategic vendor with offerings suitable for businesses of all sizes.

Needing to deploy multiple applications on schedule, organizations have gravitated toward AWS, with its unparalleled scale and rapidly evolving feature set. Public deployments give developers more options for automation and self-service than private clouds, only 8 percent of which have comparable features, according to Forrester.

Finding Middle Ground Between Public and Private Clouds

Still, rolling out an effective cloud for dev and test need not be a matter of choosing between on-premises infrastructure, VMware investments and AWS. With software from Eucalyptus, organizations can get all the best features of private and public clouds.

Developers can use AWS ecosystem tools for monitoring and image management, plus they can layer an AWS compatible private cloud on top of existing virtualization investments. Some cloud service providers have insisted that not using the public cloud in some capacity will put organizations at a competitive disadvantage, but with an AWS hybrid cloud, they can ensure that they utilize it in safe, compliant and cost-effective way.

The hybrid cloud puts companies in a position to capitalize on developer affinity for AWS while steering clear of elastic costs and still maintaining control. Eucalyptus gives current and future AWS users a flexible solution that is open source and compatible with hypervisors such as VMware and KVM and all major Linux distributions.

Moreover, compatibility with AWS is critical in light of the increasing mind share that the platform has among developers. Sixty-two percent of respondents to a separate Forrester survey were using Amazon EC2, putting it far ahead of Microsoft Windows Azure and Google Cloud Platform.

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