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Private cloud fading, hybrid cloud ascending, Forrester says

Part one of this two-part interview with Forrester Research analyst Glenn O’Donnell focuses on desktop as a service, a cloud computing category the research outfit said is having trouble making it mainstream. Part two highlights another area of concern, internal private clouds.

Internal private cloud is the only form of cloud computing in Forrester Research’s recent report on the constellation of cloud computing products that’s seeing “minimal success.”

Internal private cloud is an infrastructure-as-a-service platform implemented on hardware owned and operated by a corporate data center — as opposed to hosted private cloud, which is essentially space in a cloud provider’s data center dedicated to a particular customer.

“There has been some notable successes in private cloud, but most people who are attempting it are either failing or they are building something that isn’t true cloud,” said Forrester analyst and co-author of the report Glenn O’Donnell. “They’re basically VMware customers who are using core VMware technologies — and because they have the ability to quickly provision new environments, based on that they say, ‘Oh, this is our internal cloud.'”

Such environments are not “true cloud,” he said, because they lack chargeback and showback — policies that tie cloud usage and associated costs — and other “classic cloud characteristics” like self-service provisioning, which allows end users to launch applications without directly involving the service provider.

Internal private clouds were also faulted in the report for being both expensive to buy — around $1 million just for the software, O’Donnell said — and difficult to deploy, requiring significant modifications to meet the needs of a specific organization.

“You’ve got to build a pretty humongous environment and get significant operational benefits out of it if you’re going to recoup that investment,” O’Donnell said. “And for a lot of companies, they just haven’t done that.”

The paradox is, internal private clouds are still a popular cloud computing approach. That’s because having the value propositions of the public cloud on-premises is attractive to a lot of organizations. “The promise has not gone away,” O’Donnell said.

What will go away someday, he said, are internal private clouds themselves — at least strictly speaking. Most organizations won’t be exclusively public or private cloud — they’ll have hybrid cloud environments, a blend of on-premises IT and public cloud deployments. The model offers companies both the flexibility and scalability of the cloud and the peace of mind of keeping certain sensitive information in their own data centers.

“The hybrid cloud is really the big story,” O’Donnell said. “It doesn’t mean people are giving up cloud, but they’re giving up this pure private cloud notion and going down the path of hybrid.”

Let us know what you think of this post; email Jason Sparapani, features writer, or find him on Twitter @jmsparapani.