Skip to content

December 3, 2010


A brief response to those who criticize Cloud Vendors for warning about Private Cloud

by AlanSBPerkins

There are many who scoff at people like Wogels and Benioff for making statements like ‘Beware the False Cloud’. Focusing on the naming aspect rather than the conceptual aspect is missing the point Benioff and Vogels et al are making.

I agree, who cares what you call it, but this is not their point. Their key point in saying to be wary of private cloud is that you forego all of the real benefits of abstraction, information leverage, true scalability in both directions, and the expertise leveraged from multiple tenancy security platforms etc.

The term ‘cloud’ was adopted to demonstrate the fundamental differences gained by abstracting the hardware out of the picture.

DIY is DIY, and some things should not be tried at home, unless you REALLY have a phenomenal driver of life and death importance to segregate and isolate.
Until you have really experienced these cloud benefits it is difficult to understand this fundamental difference, and why it is seen as such an important distinction

Read more from Innovation, Service Vendors
6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Dec 3 2010

    The notion of the “private cloud” is one of the best real-world examples I’ve seen of what Plato described in his Allegory of the Cave. If all you’ve ever seen is moving shadows, cast on the cavern wall by the moving objects out in a world you’ve never seen, it’s easy to think that all there is to know (or worth trying to understand) is what’s in front of you.

    As Plato observed, the person who’s given a chance to go above ground — and see the world up there — will find it hard, upon return, to convince the others that their entire mental model is an elaborate fiction wrapped around a much simpler truth. If building a stack of middleware, on top of a server farm that you’re paid to construct and maintain, is your definition of the value that you provide to your firm, it’s going to take a vigorous shake of the tree to re-align that state of mind with the reality of cloud services.

  2. Dec 3 2010

    Alan, great post, I’m happy to see your opinion.

    > “who cares what you call it, but this is not their point.”

    I think you are right here. A lot of people are deflecting Werner’s and Benioff’s views as a semantic difference, and I don’t think that is the point either. They are talking about their perceptions of fundamental differences that make private cloud not ‘real’ cloud.

    However, I still don’t think they are right.

    I believe enterprises truly can get “abstraction, information leverage, true scalability in both directions” from their own IT systems. Private cloud can indeed be a ‘true cloud’ (which I think of as networked, on-demand/self-service, elastic, pooled, measured). It might take a bit of work, different skills, workload optimization, improved process, and additional technologies, but I know it is possible.

    CA Technologies does it internally, using our solutions (“drinking our own champagne”); so do many of our customers.

    Public cloud definitely has many unique benefits – no capex, high availability options, etc, – but I think businesses can do the things that make cloud, ‘cloud’.

    Coincidentally, I posted my detailed thoughts on the topic just today, on my blog Please Discuss, at

    Not sure what is in the water, but this was a hot topic today for sure!

    Andi Mann
    CA Technologies.

  3. Dec 4 2010

    It may have been my post from yesterday that inspired your response: If that is correct, thank you for taking interest! For many, it is difficult to take the “false cloud” seriously because of its inherently biased provenance. For me, it’s harder to take seriously because of an inherent contradiction in the argument: Before Amazon was a public cloud it was a private cloud, which was built to deliver the same agility and flexibility benefits enterprises are looking for today. Somehow that logic has been lost in the sauce. Ultimately this isn’t about “and/or” it’s about “and/and.” Private cloud advocates acknowledge an important role for the public cloud, but somehow the public cloud can’t make that same leap. Given the origin of the public cloud itself, it’s hard to take the “false cloud” argument seriously.

    Jake Sorofman
    rPath, Inc.

  4. Andreas Spanner
    Dec 6 2010


    I think you all have a point here.

    The most common points overlooked in a public vs. private cloud discussion are whether we talk about infrastructure, platform or software as a service and then further of whether multi-tenancy and security for example are an issue and need to be considered.
    In my view, each argument needs to be put into a very specific context in order to be validated.

    For example, Amazons common infrastructure services have been designed for a true multi-tenant use case, most enterprise/middleware software running nowadays is not.
    So it’s easy for Werner to emphasize on the strength of his specifically designed IaaS offering, pointing out that others are not there yet.

    Re false cloud: I can’t see why I wouldn’t be able to run my internal IT department as a composition of true service based offerings and hence as a true private cloud to the rest of the enterprise.
    For example on an IaaS level: virtualising the entire compute power of my servers, provisioning thereof on demand and billing on a per usage basis.

    Keen to get your thoughts.


  5. Dec 16 2010

    Concur, insofar as I understand. As far as I see it, every cloud is private (someone has to have a server). The question then is: how much do they open the cloud to you, and how much control do you have versus how much control do they have.

    My gmail is not “in the cloud”. It is one Google Inc’s servers.
    Abstracting private property away to assume that the cloud somehow religiously overcomes all is to lose control over your data and processes.

    To put it another way: there is no cloud. We simply outsource our internal processes under different contractual arrangements for control and privacy. As soon as we stop thinking of these as contractual arrancgements, we religiously believe in the cloud.

    A friend of mine has all his stuff hanging of a server sitting at his home. All other “cloud stuff” is synced to that machine. If our Australian ISPs had sensible uplink speeds, I also would have a private cloud.

    Anyway, that’s two cents from a non-expert (or should that now be $2.57, to allow for inflation?)


  6. Mani Pirouz
    Jan 18 2011

    There is a high level of attraction that the term “cloud” or “as a Service” seems to have on all IT vendors. It’s particularly interesting to see the hardware providers jump on it and label their offerings as clouds (in a box). This is indeed contradictory to the core concept of consuming IT as a service, opposed to owning hardware as software. Consequently, well-known analyst firm Forrester has stopped using the term “as a service” for private cloud offerings – it is not a service, so it’s absolutely right to stop using the “aaS” term in their research.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Note: HTML is allowed. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to comments

%d bloggers like this: