As enterprises begin to experiment with internal cloud computing to capitalize on efficiency gains, the question arises as to whether this shift is actually a beneficial change or simply an excuse to keep internal data centers. We turned to our panel of Zintro experts and asked them to share their opinions about the advantages of internal clouds. Here’s what they had to say:
Ellen Rubin, Co-Founder and VP Products of CloudSwitch, a company that develops cloud enablement software, explains that although internal clouds can provide many of the benefits of cloud computing without the potential risks of a third party, the economics of internal clouds make them inherently less efficient than the public cloud. First, deploying an internal cloud requires building out the infrastructure with things like “configuring the network, allocating storage, paying the electric bill, and providing square footage for the equipment.” Second, Rubin says that over-provisioning often occurs because anticipating resource requirements for an internal cloud can difficult because applications run at varying levels of use. Ironically, because much of the same protection and control offered by internal clouds is becoming increasingly available in an external public environment, enterprises may find that a public cloud provides a more cost-effective home for many of their applications. Therefore, Rubin believes that internal clouds “can make sense for the most business-critical requirements or those that need specialized hardware or have regulatory compliance issues.” By focusing internal resources on these types of applications, businesses can reduce the investment necessary to build, sustain and grow enterprise infrastructures. Companies must understand that while some applications need to run internally, many can run more cost-effectively today in a public cloud, “providing computing power on demand along with required security, agility and scalability.”
Neill Turner, an accomplished developer, consultant, and trainer with over 30 years of experience in a variety of positions with software companies including Cincom, Chordiant and DataSynapse, does not feel that there will be a large strategic shift for large enterprises moving to either internal or public clouds because “these companies provide the majority of revenue for in the Software/Hardware vendors.” Turner explains that SMEs are removing internal servers and hosted servers and moving towards a combination of SaaS and cloud servers for custom applications. Because large enterprises, specifically within Fortune 1000, are consolidating data centers and virtualizing servers with VMware in order to reduce costs, changing this would not save much money. Instead, businesses are focusing on saving money through the types of employees as well as applications. Turner recommends that such businesses utilize cloud computing in a tactical manner by “using resources for testing, using SaaS applications where appropriate, and using public clouds instead of expanding or creating a new data center.” Large enterprises can also benefit from developing PaaS features, which employs standardization further up the software stack such as through standardized deployment of applications, version control, test environments, and scaling features from each individual application.
Dr. Elijah Ezendu, a multidisciplinary consultant and Senior Partner for Shevach Consulting, recognizes that there are substantial benefits that can be derived from internal cloud computing. Not only will businesses have the opportunity to reduce costs, enhance the efficiency of applications, and increase performance via infrastructure, but also this can reduce “operational logjam demanding IT staff output.” Dr. Ezendu understands that internal clouds are advantageous over public clouds because of the “availability of better control, greater service delivery opportunities, greater flexibility and greater security.” This criteria especially concerns large firms, which is why such enterprises choose to handle the costs of switching to an internal cloud. David Torre, a security expert with over 13 years of managing security operations and strategy for companies and government agencies of various sizes, agrees that internal private clouds “can provide additional security, higher service levels, and greater overall control when compared to public clouds.” Torre explains that public clouds usually function with a cost that varies, because companies only pay for what they use. This is often less cost-efficient for businesses because if it has “a hungry appetite for resources,” it makes more sense to uses a more traditional and fixed economy of depreciating assets. However, Torre warns that it is ultimately important to consider the unique requirements of an enterprise, include organizational growth and IT maturity.
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